toothpaste ingredients

Toothpaste Ingredients and Your Health

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The toothpaste market is projected to reach $36.98 billion by 2024. Valued at $26.09 billion in 2018, the industry is clearly booming.

So if you feel like your head’s been swimming with toothpaste choices, you’re not imagining things.

While we put our trust in the industry to give us products that are good for our oral hygiene, are they really? Wondering what exactly the toothpaste ingredients are in the products you use? Read on to find out.

What Do We Even Use Toothpaste For?

Let’s tackle this question first. You may think you’re using toothpaste just to make your breath minty fresh, but it does a lot more than that.

Not only does the act of brushing stimulate our gums to be stronger, but it also removes plaque that builds up during the day. Plaque is a small layer of bacteria on your teeth that feeds on food remnants.

If plaque is left on your teeth to multiply, it can lead to tooth decay. In turn, this means you have cavities and will need to have them filled.

Many kinds of toothpaste use detergents, abrasives, and foaming agents to aid in cleaning your teeth. However, some may not be too good for you and may actually damage your teeth.

Keep reading to find out what some common ingredients in toothpaste are.

Common Toothpaste Ingredients

Below, we’ll explore some of the common ingredients found in toothpaste and if they’re good or bad for you. That way, you’ll know whether you’ve chosen a good one to load up on your electric toothbrush.

Fluoride

This is a well-known ingredient that’s found in not only toothpaste but also our drinking water. It was previously believed that fluoride had completely positive effects on our health, as it helps strengthen the enamel on our teeth.

However, there’s been recent doubts regarding fluoride. It’s been brought to light that overexposure to fluoride can cause some health problems, such as fluorosis.

The good news is, if you use your toothpaste as recommended, these health problems shouldn’t be a problem. But if you have small children in the house and are worried about them swallowing toothpaste, you should look for fluoride-free products instead.

Triclosan

Triclosan is used for its antibacterial purposes. All sorts of toothpastes claim it fights oral bacteria, but does it really?

The FDA seems to think so. They claim that back in 1997, they performed their own assessment of triclosan and found it effective.

However, it’s been found to contribute to antibiotic resistance. It may also be so good at doing its job that it eliminates good bacteria as well.

While the jury’s still out on this ingredient, you may be better off using a triclosan-free toothpaste. The good news is, most of the toothpastes on the market don’t contain this ingredient.

Glycerol

Glycerol is an ingredient commonly used in products to keep things moist. So you’ve probably seen this listed as an ingredient in things like peanut butter and yogurt.

This is another ingredient that’s regarded as safe to use. Just be careful, as ingesting too much of it can also cause gastrointestinal issues. You shouldn’t be swallowing toothpaste anyway, so the concerns of GI problems with the last 3 ingredients shouldn’t be an issue.

Calcium Carbonate

Calcium carbonate is an abrasive that aids in cleaning plaque and stains from your teeth. It may also help give you a brighter and whiter smile.

In general, calcium carbonate is an ingredient that doesn’t harm your oral health. While it’s strong enough to take plaque and stains off your teeth, it’s not so overpowering that it strips your teeth of their enamel.

Because of this, you shouldn’t have to worry about switching to toothpastes that don’t have calcium carbonate.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

As a detergent, SLS is what makes toothpaste foam in your mouth. There was concern of it being a carcinogen and harmful to your health, but studies show it’s safe to use.

SLS may or may not cause canker sores and mouth ulcers for a select few people. If you have issues with either, you may want to try SLS-free toothpastes to see if that helps. Do be aware that most SLS-free toothpastes are also fluoride-free.

Parabens

Parabens are an ingredient used to both preserve toothpaste and stop contamination. But parabens have been found to contribute to breast cancer cell growth. It’s also linked to lower sperm count in mice, which means it may have the same effect on humans.

Finding paraben-free toothpaste may be a bit tricky. The tubes won’t say outright they’re paraben-free, but if they say they don’t have artificial preservatives, chances are, they don’t have parabens.

Sorbitol and Xylitol

Sorbitol is an artificial sweetener and xylitol is a sugar alcohol. Both of these ingredients are used to make toothpaste taste better.

Both of these ingredients are sweeteners, which means they won’t contribute to tooth decay. Because of this, they’re completely safe to use.

However, some people may experience gastrointestinal problems with high amounts of either, so if you’re sensitive, either be aware of how much you’re ingesting or switch to products that don’t have these ingredients.

Be Aware of What Toothpaste Ingredients You’re Using

Now that you know some of the toothpaste ingredients on the market, take a closer look at the packaging before you purchase your next tube. If you have any sensitivities, you may want to try cutting out some of the ingredients on this list to see if that helps!

Do you have any other burning dental questions? Then check out our Ask Dr. Greg section!

About the Author Dr. Greg

Dr. Greg's experience in dentistry spans over 25 years serving patients of all ages. He's an advisor to www.emergencydentistsusa.com and a consultant to many professional dental projects.