The toothpaste aisle at the local pharmacy may seem a bit daunting. There are so many varieties to choose from, and each label offers a slightly different combination of benefits. This guide will provide an overview of the ingredients in toothpaste so that you’re equipped to make the best choice for you and your family.
Ingredients in Toothpaste
While the exact ingredients may differ from brand to brand, the components that go into an average tube of toothpaste are the same.
Ingredients in toothpaste include:
- Abrasives: Abrasives are the ingredient in toothpaste which physically clean and remove stains from your teeth.
- Flavoring, sweetening and coloring agents: Flavoring, sweetening, and coloring agents give toothpaste their characteristic taste and appearance. Sweeteners included in toothpaste do not contribute to tooth decay.
- Fluoride: Fluoride re-mineralizes teeth and helps strengthen tooth enamel, a protective layer on the outside of teeth which prevents tooth decay.
- Binding agents: Also known as thickeners, binding agents keep the toothpaste stable – that is, they prevent the toothpaste ingredients from separating.
- Detergent: Detergents are what cause toothpaste to foam when you brush. In addition to foaming, detergents also loosen debris and plaque from the surface of the teeth.
- Humectants: Prevents water loss in the toothpaste so that the paste does not harden when exposed to air.
Now that you know what’s in toothpaste, how do you choose which one is best for you?
Tips for Choosing Toothpaste
Choosing a toothpaste isn’t as simple as grabbing the closest one you see off the shelf. Protecting your teeth is important for maintaining good oral health!
Tips for choosing toothpaste
- When choosing toothpaste, seek a brand which is ADA (American Dental Association) approved. ADA toothpastes have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness in preventing tooth decay.
- Natural toothpastes have become popular in recent years. You may notice that natural brands do not contain certain ingredients in their toothpastes. As a result, natural toothpaste may not be as effective against gum disease or tartar control. Ultimately, the choice of which to choose is yours.
- The FDA recommends that you avoid any brand of toothpaste which does not include an ingredients label. Some imported toothpastes may be counterfeit or ‘gray market’ products that could contain potentially harmful ingredients.
- Look for toothpastes which suit your needs. For example, if you need to strengthen your enamel, choose a toothpaste that is high in fluoride. If your teeth are sensitive, choose a toothpaste which has desensitizing ingredients. The right toothpaste for you is out there!
Fluoride in Toothpaste
Sodium fluoride, or ‘fluoride’ for short, is a common ingredient in toothpaste – and for good reason. Fluoride prevents tooth decay by fortifying the enamel on your teeth.
Fluoride can be toxic in large amounts, so it’s important to supervise children under 6 in case of accidental swallowing.
Stannous fluoride, also known as ‘tin fluoride’, is used to clean teeth much like sodium fluoride. The biggest difference between the two is that stannous fluoride is antimicrobial, which means that it’s especially effective to kill bacteria in the mouth. This added bonus is useful for people who have periodontitis and gingivitis, as stannous fluoride can reduce the amount of damaging bacteria in the mouth.
It’s important to note that many ‘natural’ brands of toothpaste do not contain fluoride. Make sure to double-check the ingredients label before you purchase your toothpaste.Share