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Dental Detective: Toothpaste Ingredients Uncovered

There are so many toothpaste choices available on the shelves of the drugstore these days. There seems to be a toothpaste for every kind of issue, from whitening, to tartar removal, to gum inflammation, and sensitivity. But, the main reason you brush your teeth is to clean them and fight decay. So, what exactly is in toothpaste that does that?


Fluoride is without a doubt the most vitally important ingredient in toothpaste today. Since 1914, when they first started adding it into the formula, it has proven to be the best at strengthening tooth enamel and making teeth more resistant to decay.


Abrasives are grainy substances that are used to scrub stains off of teeth. This concept was clear to the ancients because we have evidence that they used crushed shells, ashes, and stone pumice to do the same thing.


A mild detergent most common in toothpaste is called sodium lauryl sulfate. It is a sanitizing ingredient that loosens and breaks down difficult substances similarly to how dish soap breaks down grease. It also creates the foamy action associated with cleansing.


A group of ingredients that bind, preserve, and keep the mixture moist. They have names like glycerol, propylene glycol, sorbitol, carrageenan, gum arabic, sodium carboxymethylcellulose, magnesium, aluminum silicate, sodium benzoate, methyl paraben, ethyl paraben, etc.


You wouldn’t like the taste of toothpaste if they didn’t add flavors and sweeteners to make it all palatable. Don’t worry, these are natural and artificial sweeteners. For obvious reasons, the ADA won’t allow their seal of approval to appear on toothpaste that includes actual sugar.

Other Agents

The above ingredients are the basis of modern toothpastes today. There are some additional agents with specific purposes of whitening, prevention of tartar, focus on gum disease, inflammation, reducing sensitivity, etc.

If you’re interested in learning more about oral health, call Dr. Nathan Owens and our helpful team at Owens Family & Cosmetic Dentistry. Phone: (931) 277-4666. Make an appointment or come by our office in Pulaski, Tennessee.

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