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What’s In My Toothpaste Exactly? A List of Key Ingredients

What’s In My Toothpaste Exactly? A List of Key Ingredients

Nowadays, we want to know about the ingredients in everything, from the food we consume to the products we use to clean our homes. After all, we all want to make the best decisions for our family.

We all know brushing our teeth with toothpaste is critical to maintain good oral health. But what do all those ingredients on the side of our toothpaste box do exactly? Our experts here at Wildwood Dental are chiming in to share what ingredients may be found in your toothpaste, and how they work to help us maintain strong smiles.

Key toothpaste ingredients and what they do:

  • Fluoride

    This is the key active ingredient in toothpaste - and for good reason. Research shows it prevents tooth decay. Its primary job is to settle into the tooth structure (enamel and dentin) making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks by decay-causing bacteria.

  • Mild abrasives

    These work to remove food debris and stains, as well as the sticky plaque that is always forming on the teeth. Abrasive ingredients you may see on your tube include calcium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), dehydrated silica gels, hydrated aluminum oxides, magnesium carbonate, phosphate salts and silicates.

  • Detergents

    These create the foaming sensation that helps the toothpaste coat the teeth. The foam reduces surface tension on the tooth, and makes cleaning easier and food particles less likely to reattach to the tooth before you spit. Ingredients may include sodium lauryl (dodecyl) sulfate (SLS) and sodium N-Lauryl sarcosinate.

  • Binders or thickeners

    These ingredients keep the paste or gel stabilized, and provide the texture of the toothpaste. These may include ingredients such as natural xanthum gums, seaweed colloids (carrageenan) and synthetic cellulose.

  • Humectants

    These are compounds that hold water and help the toothpaste maintain its moisture even when exposed to air. Ingredient examples include glycerol, propylene, glycol and sorbitol.

  • Flavor, color and sweetening agents

    These ingredients work to make brushing a better experience by providing visual and taste appeal. The most common flavors used include peppermint and spearmint, though there are endless options for toothpaste flavors - even bacon! For a sweet taste, artificial sweeteners like saccharin or natural sweeteners like xylitol are added, as they do not promote tooth decay.

No matter which kind of toothpaste you choose, make sure to select one that is recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA). This will be stated right on the outside of the box with their seal of approval. The ADA recommends toothpastes that have undergone extensive testing to make sure that they are safe to use and will not cause any harm to teeth.

For best tooth decay prevention, we recommend brushing with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day. Happy brushing (and don’t forget to floss)!

Learn more about toothpaste ingredients at this American Dental Association page: ada.org/1322.aspx

Have oral health questions? Give us a shout by scheduling an appointment with us by calling 425.481.1889.

Learn more about oral health as we share information on Facebook and Twitter.

Learn more about smile-friendly tips as we share on Facebook and Twitter or call us at 425.481.1889 to schedule an appointment.


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