Toothpaste is a key part of your daily oral hygiene routine. Along with your toothbrush and floss it helps to remove food debris and plaque from your teeth and gums.
Toothpastes can come in a gel, paste or powder form. While the ingredients differ slightly, all toothpastes contain the same general components:
- Mild abrasive. With some help from your toothbrush, these help to remove debris and surface stains.
- Humectants. This ingredient helps to prevent water loss, and keeps your toothpaste from drying out or getting gummy.
- Flavoring agents. This is what gives your toothpaste a little bit of sweetness, and that minty fresh scent. Since these do not contain sugar, they also do not promote tooth decay.
- Thickening agents. Also known as binders, these help to stabilize the toothpaste formula.
- Detergent. That foaming action comes from detergent. It also helps to spread the toothpaste through your whole mouth, and helps clean teeth.
They may have all the same basic ingredients, but all toothpastes are not the same. Depending on the toothpaste, other ingredients can also be added for other benefits. Here are some important things to keep in mind when choosing your toothpaste:
- Decay prevention. Fluoride is a natural cavity fighter that helps to strengthen tooth enamel and fight tooth decay. Not all toothpastes contain fluoride. Be sure to always use toothpaste containing this cavity-fighting mineral.
- Plaque and gingivitis. Several toothpaste contain active ingredients that can fight plaque and gingivitis, an early form of gum disease.
- Whitening. If you’re looking for a little extra sparkle in your smile, “whitening” toothpastes have special chemical or polishing agents that help remove more surface stains than regular toothpastes.
- Desensitizing. If you have sensitive teeth, you may want to consider using a desensitizing toothpaste. These contain compounds which help to reduce tooth sensitivity.
Finally, always look for the ADA Seal when selecting toothpaste. The Seal helps you make sure you are choosing the best toothpaste for your dental needs. It’s also your assurance that the toothpaste has met the ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness, and that it does what it says. Visit the ADA website for more information about the ADA Seal of Acceptance and toothpaste.
(Reprinted from American Dental Association)