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Most people, if asked what is in their toothpaste, can only tell you that it contains fluoride. Yes, that is probably the most important ingredient, but have you ever wanted to know exactly what in your toothpaste makes it clean and protect your teeth?

Fluoride – Any toothpaste that sports the seal of the American Dental Association (ADA) will have fluoride, and you shouldn’t use any toothpaste that doesn’t have it. Ever since fluoride was first added into the formula back in 1914 it has been protecting teeth by strengthening enamel and making them more resistant to decay.

Abrasives – Scrubbing off stains requires a grainy material added to toothpaste, Ancient toothpaste used things like crushed shells, ashes, and pumice. Today’s abrasives may be listed as “cleaning or polishing agents” on the tube.

Detergents – The mild cleaning detergent used in most toothpaste is called sodium lauryl sulfate. It is responsible for loosening and breaking down the difficult substances on teeth, and making toothpaste foam.

Humectants – Humectants encompass many ingredients that bind, preserve, and keep the whole mixture moist. They have names like glycerol, propylene glycol, sorbitol, carrageenan, gum arabic, sodium carboxymethylcellulose, magnesium, aluminum silicate, sodium benzoate, methylparaben, ethylparaben, etc.

Flavors and Sweeteners – These natural and artificial ingredients make the whole thing palatable. You wouldn’t put it in your mouth if it tasted nasty. Obviously, there is no actual sugar in toothpaste. We use things such as saccharin and sorbitol.

Other Ingredients – In another blog post we will dive into special additives for such things as teeth whitening, prevention of tartar, reduction of gum inflammation, reducing sensitivity, etc., but for now, the above ingredients are the basis for good toothpaste.

If you’re interested in learning more about oral health, call Dr. Paul Neumann and our helpful team at Paul Neumann, DDS. Phone: 225-687-4366. Make an appointment or come by our office in Plaquemine, Louisiana.