Research has looked into the damage caused by ingesting detergent pods. Detergent pods are commonly used for household chores, but can be mistaken for candy by children. Unfortunately, many children place these pods in their mouths, resulting in severe injuries. The researchers have urged dentists to raise awareness of the potential damage these pods can cause during dental appointments.

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Researchers from West Virginia University have called for dental professionals to help raise awareness of the potential damage that can be caused by interacting with colorful detergent pods [1].

These detergent pods are typically used for household chores. While adults wouldn’t even think about placing them in their mouth, their colorful nature can appeal to children, which has the potential to cause plenty of harm.

Detergent pods

Detergent pods have a range of uses – normally in household chores like laundry and cleaning. They are typically in a multi-colored design which appeal to children, making them often grab them and potentially place them in their mouths. This is especially the case if they mistake the pods for candy.

The design of these pods makes them very useful for household use. The pods are made from water-soluble membranes which dissolve easily, making them perfect for laundry and cleaning.

However, this has the unwanted effect of being dangerous when a child does place a pod in their mouth. The pods have a very high alkaline content. If ingested, a child becomes vulnerable to poisoning, chemical burns and swelling [2].

These can cause further complications and in some cases, death. For example, further complications include lung damage, upper airway blockage or the perforation of the esophagus [2].

The Research

The research was carried out by a team at West Virginia University. They published their findings in The Journal of Dental Hygiene [1].

The researchers sought to find trends from past detergent pod injuries that had resulted in emergency department visits for those under the age of 18 [1].

The pods were first found in the United States in 2010 [2]. Since then, there have thousands of injuries attributed to the pods each year [1].

In order to get their data, the research team used figures from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. This was then narrowed down to detergent pod-related injuries and cases involving those aged below 18 [1].

In fact, the researchers found that there was an estimated 13,176 detergent pod related injuries and poisonings between 2016 and 2020 [1]. Moreover, there were approximately 8,654 eye injuries – which happened when the pod exploded in a child’s hands or mouth and squirted into their eyes [1].

This staggering number resulted in thousands of injuries. The researchers found that the majority of these injuries happened to those aged 3-5 [1]. This is crucial and is an important topic for parents to know.

The research team found that the numbers have remained steady throughout the years, making them realize that this is an ongoing problem that needs immediate attention.

What this means

The researchers concluded that the number of incidents between 2016 and 2020 were “unacceptable”, resulting in their conclusion that more awareness among the public is needed.

Dr. R. Constance Weiner of the research team commented that the 3-5 age group “is inquisitive” and could “consider the pods as candies” [2].

Dental professionals are aware of the damage they can cause and it is important for parents to know this too. Fortunately, dentists will often see parents and their children for dental check-ups.

Therefore, the researchers have urged dental professionals to make their patients aware of the dangers posed by these pods in regular check-ups [2].

The research team are aiming to create an emergency resource sheet that dentists could use and give to parents to warn them about the potential danger these pods can cause.

Wiener said that his team hoped to “build awareness of the accessibility of a common household item and encourage prevention” [2]. This would hopefully result in awareness into this issue being increased.

Unfortunately – and understandably – many people don’t understand the potential harm these pods can cause. But as this research shows, it is important for parents to be aware of this.

Thinking points…

[1] If you are a parent reading this article, hopefully it has educated you. Please don’t worry if you didn’t realize this before – it is something that is easily overlooked! But make sure you have contact information for an emergency dentist in case you need immediate assistance with your oral health. For information on how to contact us here at our Calgary dental clinic Taradale Dental, please visit our website!

[2] While it is very important for the oral health of children to be looked after, for adults it is just as vital! We recommend attending a dental check-up at least twice a year. This can provide a dentist with the chance to look at your oral health, give advice, and suggest treatment if necessary. This can keep your oral health strong! We highly recommend booking an appointment now!

What we offer at Taradale Dental

Taradale Dental is a Calgary dental clinic that provide its patients with a wide range of dental treatment options and advice aimed at improving their oral health.

It is very important to have excellent oral hygiene. This involves brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing regularly and eating healthily. Therefore, this should help your oral health.

We advise our patients to attend our Calgary dental clinic at least twice per year for a regular dental check-up. At these check-ups, we provide a comprehensive review of a patient’s oral health. If any problems are detected, we have many treatments available. For example, these include cavity fillings and root canals.

Here at Taradale Dental, we also have some cosmetic treatments available! These include dental implants, teeth whitening and Invisalign™! Many people find that these treatments have a positive impact on their appearance, confidence and self-esteem.

Moreover, all of our services at our Calgary dental clinic Taradale Dental are set in line with the Alberta Dental Fee Guide. This ensures transparent and fair pricing.

We hope to see you soon at our Taradale Dental clinic in Calgary! You can find out more about us by visiting our website


[1] Wiener, R. C., Waters, C., & Bhandari, R. (2023). Detergent Pod-Related Oral-aerodigestive/ocular Injuries in Children, Ages >0 to <18 years. Journal of Dental Hygiene. 97 (1): p18-32. PMID: 36854577.

[2] West Virginia University. (2023). Researchers sound alarm on continued high rate of detergent pod ingestion. Available: Last accessed: 7th April 2023.