Think about your daily routine: if you’ve got good hygiene, you’re brushing your teeth at least twice a day. But have you ever actually looked at the ingredients in your toothpaste? I know I haven’t. But now that I’ve heard this story, I just might start.
Monique Altamirano shared her concerns after her 11-year-old daughter, Denise, died after using a new toothpaste recommended by her dentist to help strengthen her enamel. The problem, however, is that Denise was severely allergic to dairy products, and no one thought to look at the ingredients on her toothpaste.
Monique used to read all the labels on toothpaste when Denise was younger, but she never saw any that contained dairy, so she didn’t continue to do so as years went on. Had she read the label on this MI Paste One, Monique would have seen that it contained Recaldent, which is derived from milk protein.
“I did not think to look at the product ingredients,” Monique told Allergic Living. “Contrary to what everyone’s telling me, I feel like I failed her!”
When Denise went to use the toothpaste, Monique said her daughter was “so excited to use her ‘special toothpaste.'” Within seconds of using it, Denise knew something was wrong. She couldn’t breathe and her lips started to turn blue.
“She said, ‘I think I’m having an allergic reaction to the toothpaste,’ and her lips were already blue,” says Monique. “I picked her up and put her on my bed. I ran to the living room, told my daughter – ‘Call 911!’ – and I grabbed the EpiPen. She was saying, ‘Mommy, I can’t breathe.’ I was saying, ‘I love you, yes, you can.”
Monique administered her daughter’s EpiPen, but it was no use. She also began administering CPR, but the reaction was too severe by that point.
“The toothpaste was all over her teeth and gums and it cut off her oxygen,” Monique said.
Sadly, Denise died two days later in hospital.
Monique still feels responsible for her daughter’s death, but she knows there’s nothing that will bring her back. That being said, the family intends to use Denise’s legacy for good.
“We can’t bring Denise back but we can help others in her name,” Monique said. “We are so grateful to people who take allergies seriously. Denise wanted to change the world, but it’s heartbreaking how she’s doing it.”
The grieving mother had a strong message for parents of children with allergies.
“Read everything. Don’t get comfortable, just because you’ve been managing for several years,” she implores parents. “You can’t get comfortable or be embarrassed or afraid to ask and ensure that ingredients are OK. Be that advocate for your child.”
None of my kids ever had allergies, and I’m so grateful. I can’t imagine the stress it adds to parenting, and I really can’t comprehend how awful this mom must feel. My prayers are with the whole family.