Toothpaste has been around for a long time. The ancient Egyptians are believed to have used a form of toothpaste thousands of years ago. And one modern toothpaste brand began mass producing toothpaste way back in the late 1800s. Fast forward to today, and you’ll find numerous brands of toothpaste with various features, including tartar-control, extra-whitening, and pastes specifically for sensitive teeth. But what is toothpaste made of? And how can you choose the right one for you?
What is Toothpaste?
You’ll find most of today’s toothpaste available either as a paste or gel.
Almost all toothpaste types contain a common set of active ingredients, which include:
- Abrasives: Scratchy materials that are designed to remove food, bacteria, and surface stains from teeth. Abrasives also increase the effectiveness of mechanical brushing.
- Detergents: Sodium lauryl sulfate (which is also found in some types of soaps and shampoos) or similar materials help produce the suds and foam that appear when you brush. That foam helps break up and dissolve substances that may otherwise stick to your teeth.
- Fluoride: Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally here on earth. In the right amount it can strengthen teeth and increase their resistance to decay.
- Thickeners: Gums and similar materials help give a toothpaste its texture.
- Flavoring: Artificial sweeteners help give toothpaste a pleasant taste.
Additionally, most toothpastes also contain preservatives and other materials that help keep the gels and pastes from drying out or separating.
Many toothpastes today have added ingredients that claim to provide special protection or treatment against various conditions. These include:
Tartar control: When you brush your teeth, you remove plaque, a sticky film that contains acid-producing bacteria that can destroy your teeth. This is important, because if plaque isn’t removed, it eventually turns into a much harder material called tartar or calculus. Tartar is much harder to remove than plaque, and can lead to gum disease if not removed. Some brands of toothpaste claim to use special chemicals compounds to reduce this tartar buildup.
Whitening: Whitening toothpastes purportedly use special enzymes, hydrogen peroxide, or abrasive materials in an effort to remove surface stains.
Toothpaste for sensitive teeth: These toothpastes use chemical compounds to block sensations of pain, such as those produced by hot or cold.
What Should You Use?
Whatever toothpaste you decide on, make sure it has the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. This seal lets you know that this specific toothpaste contains fluoride, which is important to strengthening your teeth. Additionally, toothpastes with the ADA seal have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness by an independent panel of experts.
Would you like help to figure out which toothpaste is best for you? Your local Carmichael dentist, the Marconi Dental Group, can help you figure it out. Contact us today and we’ll help you find a toothpaste you’re motivated to use every day, keeping your mouth clean and healthy.