Ahhhhhhhhhh. I just brushed my teeth and they’ve never felt fresher….
Not long ago, we shared some basics on home care. Hopefully you found our pearls to pearly whites helpful. When our patients leave from a hygiene visit at White Dental Studio, we give them choices of toothbrushes, toothpastes, and floss (along with a sample of Tooth and Gum Tonic rinse in-office if preferred). It’s pretty easy to see what your toothbrush and your floss are, but what about your toothpaste? It’s paste-y and white or striped or tinted… but what IS it?
Toothpaste is a lot of things! Depending on the brand it can have a lot of different ingredients in it. Let’s shed some light on what is in your toothpaste today. We sample Colgate and Tom’s of Maine products in our office, and also serve as a point-of-purchase for The Dental Herb Company’s Tooth and Gum Paste. For simplicity, I’ll list the ingredients of Colgate’s Total toothpaste as it is one of the most commonly recommended and used toothpastes in America.
What are the ingredients in toothpaste?
The two active ingredients in Colgate Total are Sodium Fluoride, for its anti-cavity properties, and Triclosan, as an antigingivitis medication (which can be thought of as a topical antimicrobial). Many other over-the-counter toothpastes do not contain Triclosan, so if this is a concern to you, there are plenty of other options.
The inactive ingredients are what form the paste itself. They serve to act as abrasives, provide hydration, provide flavor, and create the foaming effect of toothpastes. The inactive ingredients are: Hydrated silica is an abrasive agent added to the paste. Water is another common ingredient, which I’m sure we’re all quite familiar with. PVM/MA is added to help the toothpaste “stick” to teeth and gums and it gets the antimicrobial part of your toothpaste to hang around and do work! Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is the foaming agent to provide that soft, smooth foamy feeling.
Other ingredients include:
Cellulose Gum – made from wood and cotton, it is a thickener
Flavor – most likely this is an artificial flavor, some sort of science derived ingredient that makes it quite tasty
Sodium Hydroxide – increases the pH levels in your mouth which makes it less acidic and reduces cavity causing bacteria
Carrageenan – a red seaweed extract that is used as a thickener
Propylene Glycol – derivative of natural gas that is actually used in many cosmetic products to keep things moist
Sodium Saccharin – a form of sugar that makes it sweet
Titanium Dioxide – makes the paste white
The USDA deems all of the above ingredients safe for ingestion (otherwise they couldn’t be used in many big brand toothpastes) but many people still have concerns. We’ll let you do the research and talk to professionals about what is appropriate for your mouth and if all of the above ingredients aren’t your style, we have a few other ideas!
Want some other toothpaste options?
One of our favorites (and we sample it!!!) is Tom’s of Maine‘s product line. Below is a screen shot from their website where they list each ingredient in their Fluoride-Free Antiplaque & Whitening Toothpaste and exactly what it is! You can visit their ingredients page to view every ingredient that they put in their products and the purpose of each item (it’s actually quite fun to see what they use). And here you can view what they don’t put in their products and why they choose not to. We love Tom’s of Maine because it gives our patients a choice, and to us that’s very important.
Additionally, we endorse The Dental Herb Company’s Tooth and Gum Paste. This paste is a combination of essential oils and alcohol free extracts of organic herbs consisting of:
Calcium carbonate, deionized water, vegetable glycerine, titanium dioxide, sodium carrageenan, kaolin, cellulose gum, extracts of: echinacea, gotu kola and green tea, pure essential oils of: peppermint, red thyme, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus globulus and lavender, plant saponins. As with all toothpastes, it is intended for oral use only and shouldn’t be ingested. For more information visit their website!
Post written by: Dr. Brandon White, owner dentist at White Dental Studio in Ashland, OR.