Between the huge number of toothpaste brands on the market today, the different flavors, and claims from most to do different things, it isn’t surprising that people feel so confused when it comes to something that should be as simple as buying a tube of toothpaste. This guide will help you identify the common ingredients in toothpaste, and help you understand the important factors to consider before buying toothpaste again.
Toothpaste comes in gel, paste, and powdered forms. When it comes to the type of toothpaste, the choice is more a matter of preference.
- Abrasive Agents – Abrasive agents are the scratchy substances added to toothpastes to help in the removal of food particles, bacteria, and minor stains. Calcium carbonate is one of many abrasive materials, and arguably the most common.
- Flavor – When toothpastes are flavored, they almost always have artificial sweeteners to enhance the flavor of the toothpaste and increase the likelihood that you’ll use it. Flavors run the gamut from traditional mint to cinnamon that may appeal to adults, and bubble gum or lemon lime – flavors to target children.
- Humectants – Humectants are moisturizing agents that keep paste and gel toothpastes from drying out. Glycerol is commonly used as a humectant.
- Thickeners – Thickeners are used to give toothpaste its distinctive consistency, and to make it maintain a uniform consistency and come out of the tube easily.
- Detergents – Sodium lauryl sulfate is the most common detergent used in products that foam up, like toothpaste does in your mouth.
What to Look For in Toothpaste
Fluoride is naturally occurring mineral. It is the most important ingredient to look for in a toothpaste. Although there are people who argue against using fluoride toothpaste, dental professionals like Dr. Andrew Schwartz emphasize that the fact that the incidence of tooth decay has decreased so significantly in the past 50 years is because of fluoridated toothpaste.
The suggestion that fluoridated water gives you enough fluoride to protect your teeth is wrong. Fluoride toothpaste is the best cavity protection there is. In addition to strengthening tooth enamel and protecting teeth from acid erosion (from acidic foods and drinks,) it remineralizes the surfaces of teeth that are suffering from early acid damage and may prevent developing tooth decay from worsening.
Tartar is the result of hardened plaque buildup on the teeth. Good oral hygiene and in between twice yearly cleanings from a dental hygienist are the best defense against plaque buildup. Plaque turns to tartar when people neglect their oral hygiene. Over time, tartar can build up on teeth and under the gums, increasing the risk of gum disease.
Your best bet is to use a toothpaste that has a combination of anti-plaque agents. Products containing more than one plaque reducer may be more effective than products that only one. Common ingredients to look for are zinc citrate or pyrophosphates. Triclosan is an antibiotic that is believed to kill bacteria in the mouth, and it can be found in some anti-plaque toothpaste.
Look for toothpaste that bears the seal of the American Dental Association. That seal is an endorsement of the ADA – and it means that many dentists agree that that particular toothpaste does what toothpaste is designed to do. We can also recommend toothpaste to meet your specific oral health concerns at your next visit to our Washington DC office.