Most of us use toothpaste routinely without thinking about how it cleans our teeth. So is it just a minty fresh gel that helps keep teeth cavity-free, or is there more to toothpaste than meets the eye? In fact, toothpaste can contain a range of ingredients, and you can even buy toothpaste for a specific purpose, such as for sensitive teeth or smokers. However, most toothpaste contains certain ingredients to help keep your teeth clean and breath fresh.
It’s always worth choosing a toothpaste that contains fluoride, and most toothpaste available has this ingredient because it is so useful in helping to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is a mineral that helps make tooth enamel more resistant to the acids created by bacteria naturally present in your mouth. After using your fluoride toothpaste, spit out any excess. Don’t rinse, as this ensures a thin layer of fluoride ions remains covering your teeth and offers a bit more protection against cavities.
The most common detergent in toothpaste is sodium lauryl sulphate, which ensures your toothpaste foams up pleasantly when you use it and helps ensure other active ingredients in your toothpaste, like fluoride, coat your teeth more easily.
Your toothpaste needs to maintain a certain texture and moisture level, which is why it contains a humectant. Humectants prevent toothpaste from drying out, trapping water in the toothpaste so it can be squeezed out smoothly. Common humectants in toothpaste include sorbitol, a flavouring agent, glycerol, and glycol.
Flavouring ensures your toothpaste tastes pleasant, as ingredients on their own will not taste very nice. Typically, toothpaste flavours use sweetening agents like sorbitol or saccharin, but they do not contain sugar.
Abrasives are considered an inactive ingredient because they will decrease your risk of gum disease or tooth decay, but they are important for helping to remove food debris and some surface stains from teeth. Modern abrasives are gentle and designed to scrub your teeth without damaging the tooth enamel. They include dehydrated silica gels, hydrated aluminium oxides, and calcium carbonate.
Which Toothpaste to Choose?
When choosing your toothpaste, think about what you’d like it to achieve. For example, if you have sensitive teeth, choose toothpaste for this purpose. It will contain other ingredients designed to reduce the sensitivity but bear in mind the effect of this toothpaste is cumulative, so you will need to use it for several weeks to get the full impact. Another type of toothpaste is designed to help whiten teeth, but these should be approached with some caution. The whitening effect may be due to abrasives, and it’s important not to use toothpaste that is too abrasive. If you want to use whitening toothpaste, then choose a reputable brand. You can also buy toothpaste designed for smokers to help reduce tartar buildup and to keep the mouth fresher.
Please ask us if you would like help and advice on choosing the right toothpaste for your needs.