What is all that “stuff” in my toothpaste?

Published on August 7, 2012 by

With a renewed emphasis on “organic” and natural products I thought we would take a look at something we come in contact with every day; toothpaste. There has been a lot of controversy concerning fluoride, sorbitol and artificial colorings. Why does our toothpaste have to have all that “stuff” in it and are there alternatives that will keep my teeth clean and cavity free? Let’s check it out! The following article from WebMD summarizes the “toothpaste basics” very well. This article does support fluoride use as we also do here at Anderson Family Dentistry. We are starting to see another important ingredient being added to toothpaste: Xylitol. This is a positive addition! (Sounds like a great topic for our next blog!!)

 For those of you who prefer not to use a fluoride toothpaste you do have options. There are several brands on the market that are fluoride free. You can find several of the toothpastes from the following list at Walmart (is there anything they don’t carry?):

Tom’s ofMaine

The Natural Dentist

Spry Toothpaste

Xliwhite

Jason Powersmile

Therabreath

            Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of what is in our toothpaste! We hope the following article answers some or all of your questions. Feel free to ask us any other questions you may have the next time you are in our office for a visit. Click on the link below for the full article.

                             Until next month…………..Happy Flossing

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/weighing-your-toothpaste-options

Toothpaste Basics

Toothpaste is available in paste, gel, or powder form. Despite the many types of toothpaste that exist, there are some ingredients common to most varieties. These include:

  • Abrasive agents. Scratchy materials, including calcium carbonate and silicates, help remove food, bacteria, and some stains from your teeth.
  • Flavoring. Artificial sweeteners, including saccharin, are often added to toothpaste to make them taste better. While many people equate the flavor of toothpaste with mint, toothpaste is available in a variety of flavors, including cinnamon, lemon-lime, and even bubblegum (for kids — or kids at heart).
  • Humectants for moisture retention. Paste and gel formulations often contain substances like glycerol to prevent the toothpaste from drying out.
  • Thickeners. Agents that add thickness to the toothpaste, including gums and gooey molecules found in some seaweeds, help achieve and maintain proper toothpaste texture.
  • Detergents. Those suds you see when you brush your teeth are from detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate.

Fluoride Toothpaste

The most important ingredient to look for when choosing toothpaste is fluoride.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. Its use has been instrumental in the dramatic drop in tooth decay and cavity occurrence that has taken place over the past 50 years. Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars and starches that remain on your teeth after eating. Fluoride helps protect your teeth from the acid that is released when this happens. It does this in two ways. First, fluoride makes your tooth enamel stronger and less likely to suffer acid damage. Second, it can reverse the early stages of acid damage by remineralizing areas that have started to decay.

Using fluoride toothpaste is an important way to ensure that your teeth are reaping the benefits of this dental-friendly mineral. Don’t think you can skip fluoride if you live in an area where the water is fluoridated. Studies have shown that using fluoride toothpaste helps increase the concentration of fluoride in the teeth, even in areas with water supplies containing high levels of the mineral.

Tartar Control Toothpaste

There are a variety of ingredients used in toothpaste to help prevent the accumulation of tartar on the teeth. Chemical compounds, including pyrophosphates and zinc citrate, are often added and have been proven effective. Additionally, some tartar control toothpastes contain an antibiotic called triclosan, which kills some of the bacteria in the mouth.

Certain toothpastes containing multiple anti-plaque agents have been demonstrated to be even more effective at tartar control than varieties with only one plaque fighter

Toothpastes for Sensitive Teeth

These toothpastes usually contain potassium nitrate or strontium chloride. These chemical compounds, which can take up to four weeks to offer relief, reduce tooth sensitivity by blocking pathways through the teeth that attach to nerves.

Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening toothpastes do not typically contain bleaches. Instead, they contain abrasive particles or chemicals that effectively polish the teeth or bind to stains and help pull them off the tooth surface.

**Note from our office: most whitening toothpastes contain a concentration of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.

Although you might be concerned that the abrasiveness of whitening toothpaste could damage your teeth, studies suggest that whitening toothpastes are no harder on tooth enamel than other types of toothpaste.

Tips for Choosing a Toothpaste

Here are some tips to help you choose the best toothpaste to meet your family’s dental needs:

  • Opt for ADA approval. Whatever your toothpaste needs, be sure to select toothpaste that has earned an American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval. Toothpastes that have earned this distinction have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness by an independent review board of scientific experts. All toothpastes earning the ADA seal contain fluoride — the most important ingredient in any toothpaste.
  • Be wary of imposters. In 2007, some toothpastes imported from China were found to contain a toxic substance, diethylene glycol. The FDA is currently advising against choosing toothpaste that says it was made in China.
  • Consider your needs and the needs of your family members. As long as you select a fluoride-containing toothpaste, the best toothpaste is a matter of personal choice and preference. If you’re committed to an all-natural lifestyle, you may want to opt for ADA-approved toothpastes that contain only natural ingredients. For people trying to instill good oral hygiene habits in your children, why not choose fruit-flavored toothpastes with sparkles to entice them to brush their teeth? Some people are eager to restore whiteness to their teeth with whitening toothpastes. Others like the feeling of brushing their teeth with toothpaste containing hydrogen peroxide or baking soda.

With so many different options and combinations available, you can experiment with different brands, varieties, and flavors to find the best toothpaste for you.

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