What’s in your toothpaste? If you’re curious about what makes toothpaste freshen your breath, fight cavities, whiten your teeth, and protect enamel, take a look at the top ingredients in most toothpaste.
This naturally occurring ingredient plays a primary role in dental protection. Even though fluoride is in tap water (most communities add it to the water supply), it’s also a key to your toothpaste product’s ability to keep your teeth cavity-free.
While fluoride-containing toothpaste won’t eliminate dental decay, it can reduce the risks. Fluoride helps to remineralize your teeth. This helps weakened enamel become stronger and can reverse early tooth decay. Keep in mind, fluoride won’t cure extensive dental decay. If you have existing cavities, your dentist will need to remove the decay and fill the tooth.
Some toothpaste products also contain baking soda. Sodium bicarbonate, the chemical name for baking soda, is a common household ingredient. Why would a toothpaste manufacturer put something that’s in your kitchen cabinet into a dental product? Baking soda may help to reduce plaque buildup. This decreases cavity and gum disease development.
Along with plaque reduction, baking soda may decrease gingivitis-related gum bleeding. But this doesn’t mean it will eliminate the problem or you should stop flossing. Blood when you brush is a gum disease warning sign. Even if your toothpaste contains baking soda, you’ll still need to care for your gums and visit the dentist regularly to stop the infection and heal the area.
Peroxide and baking soda often go hand-in-hand when it comes to dental products. Some patients use plain hydrogen peroxide (available in the first-aid aisle of most pharmacies) and the powdered form of baking soda alone to brush their teeth.
When used in toothpaste, hydrogen peroxide typically functions as a whitener. While it may help to somewhat lighten your teeth, it won’t sit on the surface long enough to make a major impact. Don’t expect your hydrogen peroxide-containing toothpaste to have the same effect as a doctor’s office whitening procedure.
Is your toothpaste an uncharacteristic shade of black? Charcoal toothpaste products are growing in popularity. Even though you can find these pastes in most grocery store dental care aisles, do they really work?
Product-packaging claims about this ingredient often include antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, whitening, and detoxification effects. According to a research review published in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), there is little scientific evidence to support these claims, so don’t feel pressured to buy toothpaste containing charcoal.
Also known as polyalcohol or sugar alcohol, this naturally occurring substance is most often used as an artificial sweetener. You see this ingredient in no-sugar sodas, gums, and mints.
Why would a toothpaste manufacturer use an artificial sweetener in a dental product? Unlike foods and beverages, xylitol isn’t added to toothpaste to change the taste. Instead, it’s used for the ingredient’s supposed antibacterial properties.
The bacteria in your mouth feed off sugars and produce enamel-eating acids. This leaves your teeth open to dental decay. The more bacteria in your mouth, the more likely you are to have cavities. A bacteria-reducing ingredient, like xylitol, could, in theory, reduce the risks of cavity formation.
Research on the effectiveness of xylitol alone, and in combination with fluoride, is mixed. While some experts believe this ingredient is beneficial, others aren’t sure if it can help to decrease decay. If you’re not sure whether you need this ingredient in your toothpaste or not, talk to your dentist about xylitol and your individual dental needs.
Do you need help with your oral care routine? Contact Crest Hill Family Dental for more information.