You’ve been brushing your teeth every day with toothpaste. But have you ever thought about what toothpaste is made of? What is in a toothpaste that makes it a valuable tool to clean your teeth?
Well, that’s why I am here to help you gain that extra knowledge about your favorite toothpaste. Most kinds of toothpaste share common ingredients, such as fluoride, abrasives, flavor, detergents, etc., that are both active and inactive.
The active ingredients help to prevent cavities and reduce the risk of gum diseases. The inactive ingredients add taste and texture to the toothpaste.
The inactive ingredients don’t take part in protecting your teeth from cavities or gum problems, but they play a significant role to add that extra freshness and flavor without which toothpaste would not be the same.
Let’s dwell into the article to understand what is a toothpaste. Also, you will learn about the five most essential ingredients in toothpaste that play a significant role in maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
What is toothpaste?
Toothpaste is an abrasive that aids in removing food and dental plaque from the teeth. It assists in suppressing halitosis and delivers active ingredients like fluoride to help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
Toothpaste comes in the form of a paste or gel which is used with a toothbrush to clean and maintain the health of the teeth and promote oral hygiene.
What are the five ingredients of a toothpaste?
Fluorides also are known as “Nature’s Cavity Fighter” are the active ingredient of a toothpaste that plays a protective role in preventing cavities.
It’s a mineral by the composition that helps to strengthen the enamel on the teeth, making them less susceptible to cavities and less likely to wear down from acidic foods and drinks.
Toothpaste with fluoride is highly recommended for children primarily under the age of 6. A study done on children less than six years of age showed that the use of fluoride helped in reducing the incidence of caries formation effectively. (1)
Though abrasives play an active role in toothpaste, they are technically considered as an inactive ingredient because they are ineffective in reducing the risk of cavities or gum disease.
Abrasives are the ingredients that help to remove the food debris and stains from teeth.
They are coarse and rough in texture. In earlier days, things such as crushed eggshells were used as abrasives by the ancient Egyptians. Romans used crushed oyster shells.
- Also read: History of Toothpaste
Today’s abrasives are a bit gentler and typically include calcium carbonate, dehydrated silica gels, and hydrated aluminum oxides.
The main aim of the abrasive in modern toothpaste is to clean the surface of the teeth without scratching or damaging tooth’s enamel.
A wide range of flavoring ingredients is used in toothpaste, which acts as the prime factor in selecting a toothpaste for yourself.
These flavors typically come from sweetening agents, such as saccharin or sorbitol. Some kinds of toothpaste, are even fruit-flavored for children’s use.
Although a toothpaste contains sweetening agents, they don’t include sugar, and thus they do not cause any tooth decay.
You can check for a seal of acceptance of ADA to toothpaste with sweeteners, but ADA will never sign off on a toothpaste that contains decay-causing sugar.
A humectant is an agent that traps water in the toothpaste to bind all the ingredients together and form a paste. It is because of the humectant that you get a smooth consistency of the paste when you squeeze the tube.
Some of the flavoring agents, like sorbitol, play dual roles. Sorbitol in addition to being a flavoring agent also acts as a humectant to prevent loss of water in the toothpaste.
Other examples of humectants include glycol and glycerol.
Detergents in toothpaste help to provide the formation of foam while you brush your teeth. One of the most common detergents used in toothpaste is sodium lauryl sulfate.
Detergents add an extra cleansing mechanism to aid in thorough cleaning of teeth.
Tips for Choosing Toothpaste
Now that you know about the ingredients used in toothpaste, here are some tips for choosing one –
When buying toothpaste for your child, look for one that contains fluoride and has an appealing taste.
When deciding which toothpaste to buy, look at all the benefits of that toothpaste. For example, if you want to whiten teeth, a whitening toothpaste could be a good option, or if you have sensitive teeth, then toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth is a good option.
Take away message
Choosing the right toothpaste for you can be daunting. The next time you’re in the toothpaste aisle and wonder what its contents are, pick up the box and flip it over.
All the ingredients present in the toothpaste are also listed on its packaging so you can get an idea of what type you are looking for.
It is always best to select a paste that will clean your teeth and provide extra protection against conditions like gingivitis. So, which type of toothpaste are you looking for?