Despite its name, toothpaste isn’t always a ‘paste’. It can also come in gel or powder form, but it all works by brushing onto your gums and teeth to clean plaque. According to the ADA, toothpaste is an important component of good oral health, because it removes bacterial and plaque buildup on teeth. Most toothpastes also contain fluoride, which fights decay and strengthens tooth enamel.
Just What’s in Your Toothpaste?
A toothpaste’s composition might vary depending on the manufacturer’s claimed benefits (such as inflammation reduction or tooth whitening). In most cases, toothpaste contains these ingredients:
A gentle abrasive, such as dehydrated silica gel, magnesium or calcium carbonate, phosphate salts or hydrated aluminum oxides
Sorbitol, glycerol or other substances which keep the paste from dehydrating
Thickening agents such as cellulose, mineral colloids or natural gum, which gives the toothpaste a consistent texture and appearance
Fluoride to make teeth resistant to decay
Flavorings such as saccharin
Detergents to allow the toothpaste to foam in the mouth
Choosing the Right Toothpaste
There are so many toothpaste choices available that it can be hard to find the right one. When selecting a toothpaste, your first step should be to find out if the product is safe and effective. The FDA regulates any toothpaste with fluoride, because it makes disease-preventative claims. Toothpaste without fluoride is considered a cosmetic, and does not require FDA regulation.
If you’re confused about buying toothpaste, just look for the ADA’s seal of approval, which shows that the manufacturer participates in the ADA’s testing program for effectiveness and safety. For instance, any sugar-containing toothpaste won’t get the seal of approval. There are many products with the ADA seal; a complete list can be found on the ADA website.
The most important ingredient in toothpaste is fluoride. It has many benefits, for people of all ages; it fills microscopic cavities, it hardens the enamel and it slows the action of acid-making oral bacteria.
Although any toothpaste with fluoride has to have the FDA warning label, the ADA says that it’s impossible for a child to swallow enough during brushing to cause health problems. However, children should only use a pea sized amount, and should be supervised until they learn proper brushing habits. Your Dentist in Lubbock can advise you further on toothpaste selection and proper oral care.