29 Sep What Everyone Should Know About Toothpaste
Toothpaste is an integral part of any dental care routine. Purchasing toothpaste should be an easy process. With many major retail stores carrying up to 8-feet of shelving filled with a plethora of product choices, we can feel overwhelmed about what to buy. In a sea of claims and benefits from a deeper clean, to enamel hardening to whitening, how do you choose which toothpaste is right for you?
At its core, toothpaste is a mild abrasive that removes plaque-causing bacteria while gently polishing teeth. With over 700 species of bacteria living in our mouth, poor dental hygiene may result in cavities, tooth loss, and other periodontal diseases. Fluoride is the active ingredient in toothpaste for fighting cavities by re-mineralizing teeth and strengthening enamel. There are 3 types of fluoride recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in toothpaste: sodium monoflourophosphate, sodium fluoride, and stannous fluoride. How are they different?
Three Types of Fluoride
Sodium monoflourophosphate and sodium fluoride are both fluorides with different chemical makeups but used for the same purpose – to strengthen enamel and prevent tooth decay. As with a kitchen recipe, not all ingredients work well together. Manufacturers will choose which fluoride to use based on the other ingredients in the formula. These ingredients provide functional support and contribute to certain product performance claims.
The third fluoride, stannous fluoride, has been clinically proven to provide cavity protection. Prior to the introduction of stannous fluoride in the 1950s, nearly 50% of kids had at least one untreated cavity (Tufts). Statistics dropped to just 25% and stannous fluoride has played a role in the decline of cavities. In addition to the re-mineralization and enamel strengthening of the other two fluorides, stannous fluoride also contains an antimicrobial to fight bacteria. Any toothpaste containing fluoride is a smart addition to a focused dental care plan.
What Are the Other Ingredients
Similar to other products, toothpaste contains ingredients to help thicken, to create a paste or gel consistency, to deliver a benefit, or to add flavor. Toothpaste may include one or more of these ingredients:
Glycerol – A sweetening and preserving agent. Glycerol is a humectant that keeps toothpaste from drying out. It is also used to help with thickening and texture. Glycerol is found in other common food products including cheese, yogurt, condiments, and precooked pasta.
Potassium Nitrate – Used for dental hypersensitivity, potassium nitrate calms nerve irritation while fluoride strengthens enamel. You’ll find this in toothpaste marketed as “sensitive” formula.
Peroxide – White, whiter and whitest. Hydrogen peroxide is an active ingredient that helps lift stains caused by foods, beverages, and tobacco products. Hydrogen peroxide is also a natural disinfectant in the daily fight against plaque.
Sorbitol – Adds a mild sweetness to toothpaste to make it more palatable. Sorbitol is found naturally in fruits like apples, avocados, peaches, blackberries, and cherries. Sorbitol also helps with consistency and is used in many sugar-free foods including hard candies.
What Should I Buy?
Choosing a toothpaste that contains fluoride is ideal for optimal prevention against tooth decay. The American Dental Association seal of approval is only given to toothpaste that contains fluoride. Depending on a secondary goal, a toothpaste with peroxide may be used for whitening, or potassium nitrate to mitigate nerve sensitivity.
The most important goal is choosing to commit to a daily routine of caring for your mouth. Adopt a dental care plan that follows the Daily 4: Brush, Floss, Rinse, Chew. Brush two times per day for two minutes each day. Along with regular 6-month check-ups, these simple tips will ensure the health of your mouth which also affects the overall health of your body.
If your gums are hurting or bleeding or you notice sensitivity while brushing or eating, schedule an appointment today. We use our mouth to talk, eat, drink, and smile. Give it the attention it deserves.
Dr. Dragana Angelova
Imperial Dental Center
“We Love to See You Smile!”