The formulations of different toothpastes vary, but most are made up of the following basic ingredients:
- Fluoride strengthens the tooth enamel and prevents caries. It is the active ingredient in most toothpastes.
- Water keeps the toothpaste from drying out.
- Binding agents stabilize the toothpaste and prevent the solid and liquid ingredients from separating. They usually consist of cellulose, but natural gums, seaweed colloids and mineral colloids are sometimes used as well.
- Humectants such as glycerol, propylene, glycol and sorbitol keep the toothpaste moist and soft.
- Abrasives, usually based on chalk or silica, remove debris and stains from your teeth. The amount of abrasives in the toothpaste varies from brand to brand, but in general it is better to use toothpaste with mild abrasives, since high levels can damage the enamel and make your teeth sensitive.
- Flavoring and coloring agents are used to make toothpaste taste and look good. Mint and peppermint are common toothpaste flavors. Many toothpastes also contain saccharin, stevia, xylitol or other sweeteners that do not contribute to caries.
- Preservatives are added to prevent bacterial growth in the toothpaste. Alcohols, benzoates, formaldehyde and paraben are among the most common preservatives.
- Detergent creates foam and loosens plaque. Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium N-lauryl sarcosinate are the most common detergents.
Different types of toothpaste
There is a wide variety of toothpastes available on the market, all geared toward different needs. For example, there are toothpastes that are specifically flavored to appeal to children. Others contain stronger abrasives and are marketed toward smokers, who more often tend to have stained teeth. Do you have gingivitis, problems with tartar or sensitive gums? There are special toothpastes for that as well. Some brands combine several of these properties in an “all-in-one” product. Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist if you are not sure which toothpaste is best for you. Regardless of which toothpaste you use, it is important to combine it with a regular
flossing routine. An effective mouthwash can also help keep the bacteria in your mouth under control and help prevent bad breath.