11-Year-Old Girl Dies After Severe Allergic Reaction to Toothpaste

By Zachary Stieber

An 11-year-old California girl died after a severe allergic reaction to toothpaste that contained a milk protein.

Denise Saldate was prescribed a certain kind of toothpaste after dentist saw spots on her teeth. The dentist suggested MI Paste One, suggesting that the toothpaste would strengthen the girl’s tooth enamel.

Denise’s mother Monique Altamirano said that she used to religiously check toothpaste labels because of her daughter’s dairy allergy but stopped after never seeing milk present.

“I did not think to look at the product ingredients,” Altamirano told Allergic Living. “She was just excited to have her special toothpaste.”

Denise brushed her teeth with her new toothpaste on April 4. She was soon crying.

“She said, ‘I think I’m having an allergic reaction to the toothpaste,’ and her lips were already blue,” Altamirano said. “I picked her up and put her on my bed. I ran to the living room, told my [other] daughter—‘Call 911!’—and I grabbed the EpiPen.”

Altamirano administered the EpiPen and gave her daughter her asthma inhaler before starting CPR on the advice of the dispatcher. Soon, though, the girl was dead.

Because of Denise’s dairy allergy, both mother and daughter would read every food label to make sure there were no allergens present. Other family members were also cognizant of the allergy.

MI Paste One includes a small warning on the tube that states it contains the ingredient Recaldent and milk protein. There’s also a caution printed out on the back.

Altamirano wants what happened to her daughter to be a lesson for other families.

“Read everything. Don’t get comfortable, just because you’ve been managing for several years. You can’t get comfortable or be embarrassed or afraid to ask and ensure that ingredients are OK. Be that advocate for your child,” she said.

The Allergic Living magazine also said that dentists should regularly ask patients if they have any allergies. In a blog post, a Canadian dentist and mother wrote that parents of children with allergies should talk with dentist offices about any allergy-friendly policies. If you aren’t comfortable with an office, look for a new one.

Parents should also carefully fill out the detailed medical questionnaire, filling in all allergy information. And they should ask about allergen statements. Some brands of dental products, such as Nupro, a prophy paste used to remove stains from teeth, specify they are gluten-free or free of other allergens.

“The best preparation is communication, so be sure to communicate any concerns you may have about the cleaning or proposed treatment with your child’s dentist. And don’t feel awkward asking questions! Your dental team wants to provide a safe and comfortable experience for you and your child,” wrote Dr. Jyoti Parmar, the dentist.

Remembering Denise

Denise’s uncle said in a GoFundMe that the girl was precious to the family.

“Denise Alyna Saldate was such a loving daughter, sister, cousin, niece, and friend with such an amazing personality. She could light up a room and make you smile even when you’re down. Through all of her struggles with allergies she always remained so happy,” he wrote.

“She took everything like a champ! Her presence brought an undeniable grace that was impossible to ignore. Her perspective on life was to always look on the bright side. She wanted to make a difference in the world, and we knew one day she would change the world. She was a born leader. She started a petition to start her own slime club at school and to get an umbrella for her table at lunch where she hung out with her friends.”

He added, “Her goal to make a difference will live on in the form of organ donation as she saves other children’s lives. We’d like to thank everyone for your thoughts and prayers. Her memory will live on in our hearts.”