Lifestyle & Human Interest

Young Girl Suffers Fatal Allergic Reaction After Dentist Prescribes New Toothpaste


A Southern California family is mourning the loss of their daughter 11-year-old Denise Saldate, who had a fatal allergic reaction to an ingredient in a prescribed toothpaste.

On April 4, Denise went to the dentist with her mother, Monique Altamirano. The dentist noticed some spots on the girl’s teeth and suggested that a prescription toothpaste called MI Paste One would help strengthen her tooth enamel.

Denise lived with a severe dairy allergy and was accustomed to reading the labels on food products. When she was very young, Denise’s parents would read children’s toothpaste labels, but had never seen milk as an ingredient.

Altamirano told Allergic Living that nobody thought to read the prescription toothpaste label, which did include a milk-derived protein called Recaldent.

“I did not think to look at the product ingredients,” Altamirano said.

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Denise, who had grown up learning to check product labels for milk, did not think to look either.

“She was just excited to have her special toothpaste,” Altamirano said.

On the evening of April 4, Denise tried the new toothpaste for the first time, brushing her teeth in the bathroom alongside her 15-year-old sister.

Did you know milk could be an ingredient in toothpaste?

The next few moments were a whirlwind as Denise’s body immediately reacted to the milk protein.

Crying and unable to breathe, Denise ran into her mother’s bedroom and said she believed she was having an allergic reaction.

“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 daughter – ‘Call 911!’ — and I grabbed the EpiPen.”

“She was saying, ‘Mommy, I can’t breathe,’” Altamirano said. “I was saying, ‘I love you, yes, you can.’”

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Altamirano administered the EpiPen and had Denise use her inhaler, but it was not enough to stop the reaction. Altamirano, who knew CPR from her days as a school bus driver, began CPR on her daughter until paramedics arrived.

Tragically, Denise did not make it. Her mother, father and three older sisters were at the hospital when the family received the devastating news.

Flooded with grief, Altamirano cannot help but blame herself.

“Contrary to what everyone’s telling me, I feel like I failed her!” Altamirano said.

Altamirano hopes that Denise’s story will serve as a cautionary reminder to families dealing with severe allergies.

“Read everything. Don’t get comfortable, just because you’ve been managing for several years,” Altamirano said.

“You can’t get comfortable or be embarrassed or afraid to ask and ensure that ingredients are OK. Be that advocate for your child.

“This is your child’s life, and God forbid you have to go through what I’m going through.”

Liftable, a section of The Western Journal, has reached out to GC America, the makers of MI Paste One, for comment but has not yet received a response. We will update this article if and when we do.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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