Toothpaste is an essential product for oral and dental hygiene. Though natural products like neem and sea salt are used in some Asian countries to clean teeth, the majority of people rely on it.
Brushing teeth in the morning and evening with toothpaste is a routine for most. But have you ever wondered what goes into it? What gives it the refreshing scent and anti-bacterial property? Let us have a look at the major components of toothpaste.
What Are The Major Components Of A Toothpaste?
Fluoride is a mineral that plays a key role in strengthening the enamel of your teeth. Brushing your teeth with toothpaste containing fluoride makes them less susceptible to cavities and less likely to wear down due to acidic food and drinks.
The most commonly used fluoride in toothpaste is sodium fluoride which prevents tooth decay. In addition, stannous fluoride is also used to prevent tooth decay and gingivitis and reduce the sensitivity of the tooth.
A small quantity of fluoride is enough to provide the best result. Toothpaste mostly contains 0.15% fluoride ion, and the children’s version contains even smaller quantities of fluoride.
Abrasives do not help in fighting cavities and strengthening the enamel, but they help to remove food particles and stains from the teeth. Ingredients like dehydrated silica gels, calcium carbonate and hydrated aluminium oxide are used as abrasives in toothpaste.
Because of the presence of abrasives in toothpaste, you need not press the brush firmly while brushing the teeth as it can cause damage to the enamel.
The various ingredients of the toothpaste do not provide a good taste. To counterbalance this, flavouring agents are added to make the paste taste good. Besides flavouring agents, sweetening agents like sorbitol are also used to provide a sweet taste to toothpaste.
Humectants are agents that prevent toothpaste from drying off. It provides enough hydration to it so that it remains like a smooth paste while inside the tube and help it glide out easily. Humectants like glycerol, sorbitol, and propylene glycol are commonly used in toothpaste.
Detergent provides a nice foamy texture to the toothpaste and helps other ingredients coat the teeth. The most commonly used detergent is sodium lauryl sulphate, but it can cause mouth irritation for some. Thus, if you notice a mouth ulcer and suspect your toothpaste to be the cause, look for one that does not contain sodium lauryl sulphate.
What Are The Other Components Of A Toothpaste?
Potassium nitrate is a key ingredient in toothpaste meant for sensitive teeth. This agent can calm the nerves in the teeth and thus reduce the sensitivity of teeth. To get the desired result, you should use the toothpaste consistently.
The main role of zinc citrate is to prevent plaque buildup in the teeth. The plaque is a sticky film that contains bacteria. When plaque hardens it becomes tartar. By using toothpaste containing zinc citrate, you can prevent the formation of plaque.
Hydrogen peroxide is a key component in stain-removing toothpaste, but a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide can damage your teeth. Because of this, most kinds of toothpaste contain a low quantity of hydrogen peroxide.
What Are The Toothpaste Ingredients You Should Avoid?
Triclosan is an antiseptic product used in toothpaste to prevent gingivitis. Studies have shown that the increased use of toothpaste containing triclosan can cause antimicrobial resistance. This can eventually lead to increase resistance against antibiotics. Another study has shown that increased use of triclosan can cause an allergic reaction to peanuts.
FD&C Blue 1 is a synthetic dye that is widely used in toothpaste to give the blue colour. Synthetic dyes have a tendency to develop allergic reactions. Thus, it is best to avoid blue coloured ones and go for white ones.
Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS)
The main role of sodium lauryl sulphate is to create a nice foamy texture to the toothpaste. Apart from that, it does not serve any purpose. SLS can irritate the soft tissue inside the mouth and cause inflammation for some people.
Research is going on as to whether artificial sweeteners like saccharin and aspartame can have a negative effect on your health. It is believed that saccharin can cause cancer and tumour. Similarly, aspartame can affect your gut health and increase the glucose level in the blood. Since research is still going on in this area, it is best to switch over to toothpaste containing natural sweeteners like honey.
Toothpaste is a product used daily. Thus, it is very important that you know its ingredients well. If you changed your toothpaste recently and have developed sores or ulcers in the mouth, you are more likely to be allergic to some of its ingredients. Having a good understanding of the various ingredients will help you to select toothpaste wisely.