From your grocery to your expensive cosmetic products, everything has an expiry date. Even medications that we take have a fixed validity.
So, did you ever check the expiry of toothpaste before buying it?
Most of us would say no. It is common to think that a toothpaste lasts for a long time and it is not harmful to use it for that long. But let me tell you that toothpaste does have an expiry date and there is an explanation to why does it have it.
A toothpaste typically expires when the fluoride loses its potency and no longer provides the beneficial effects. You must have noticed that toothpaste become semi-liquid over the time and no longer stay thick in consistency.
Even the flavors of the toothpaste start to fade as the time passes. Let us learn in detail on why a toothpaste gets expired and how vital it is to check the expiry date.
What is toothpaste?
Toothpaste is a dental dentifrice in the form of a paste or a gel that is used with a toothbrush to clean your teeth and remove the plaque from the tooth surface.
Toothpaste is an oral health care product that delivers active ingredients to fight the tooth decay and gums.
Does toothpaste expire?
Toothpaste does have an expiration date. But using a toothpaste even after it has expired poses minimal threat to your health. It has been mandatory by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States to put an expiration date on the toothpaste.
Usually, the expiration date of toothpaste is estimated to be eighteen months to two years from the date of manufacture. (1)
Why does a toothpaste expire?
An expiration date is also given to toothpaste so that it can meet the universal requirements of safety and effectivity.
After fulfilling these criteria, the toothpaste becomes eligible to get a verification seal from the American Dental Association.
The life of the toothpaste stays intact until the ingredients don’t start to disintegrate and lose their effectivity.
So, in a nutshell, an expired toothpaste is not exactly harmful to your health, but if used over a long time, it will not protect your teeth from the oral bacteria and tooth decay. It will be ineffective in removing the plaque.
As the toothpaste reaches its expiration, the fluoride in the toothpaste starts to break-down. It loses its effectivity to protect the teeth from tooth decay and cavity formation.
Along with the fluoride, the coloring agents and the flavoring agents also lose their efficiency and the taste of the toothpaste starts to become bland and tasteless.
The binding agents begin to lose its property, and you may notice a liquid consistency of the toothpaste.
The time extension of two years is given to ensure that all these properties that are required to clean the teeth efficiently remain intact and serve their purpose.
Toothpaste made for children does not have fluoride in it, so they usually are not affected much by the expiration date.
However, manufacturers do put an expiry date and recommend to follow it to maintain the efficacy and quality of the product.
Can we use an expired toothpaste?
Using an expired toothpaste is not harmful to your oral health or overall health, but it also doesn’t have any beneficial effects on the teeth.
We use toothpaste to maintain good oral hygiene by letting it clean our teeth, remove the food particles and plaque. Such a mechanism protects our teeth from cavities and decay and even gum diseases.
When a toothpaste loses its properties to provide our teeth the necessary protection, there is no point in using it further.
An expired toothpaste may have the following characteristics which you may not want to put in your mouth.
- Less efficacy of fluoride
- Change in consistency
- In most cases, an expired toothpaste dries out
- Difference in texture
- May contain growing bacteria or fungi
Importance of using a toothpaste
Toothpaste is an integral part of our oral health routine. A suitable toothpaste and a proper brushing technique can take you a long way without developing cavities and tooth decay.
Toothpaste is an amalgamation of various ingredients that add their dynamic properties and help us fight the cavities.
- Fluoride strengthens the tooth surface (2)
- Abrasives provide a thorough cleaning
- Foaming agents provide that extra foam for cleanliness
- Antimicrobial agents fight the cavity producing bacteria
- Humectants maintain the moisture in the toothpaste
- Binding agents give the desired consistency
- Flavoring agents give you the long-lasting freshness
All these properties provide healthy oral hygiene and preserve the oral health of your mouth. Brush twice daily, gently in a circular motion to stay away from the bacteria and its harmful effects.
Tips to keep your toothpaste fresh for a long time
Small tips can help you to maintain the quality and freshness of your toothpaste and enjoy the benefits for the right amount of time. (3)
- Put the cap back after using toothpaste and close it tightly
- Make sure you don’t leave toothpaste around the edges of the cap to prevent dust particles from settling on it
- It is wise to put your toothpaste in a closed cabinet and not leave it in the open. This will protect it from the bacteria that may reach from the toilet or surrounding open areas.
- Store the toothpaste in a cold environment to maintain the consistency and effectivity of all the ingredients that may break down in hot temperatures
Take away message
Like every dental product, a toothpaste also has an expiration date. There is no benefit in continuing the use of an expired toothpaste.
In turn, it causes our teeth more damage by not protecting it from the oral plaque and bacteria leading to the formation of tooth decay and cavities.
Generally, a toothpaste has an expiration date of almost two years which is quite to finish it off with daily use. So, next time when you go to the market, keep a check on the expiration date printed on the box of the toothpaste.