Patient often ask if it is really necessary to use toothpaste. Toothpaste, also called dentifrice, is essential to your daily oral hygiene routine. Toothpastes are pastes, gels or powders that help remove plaque, a film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums. Toothpaste improves the mechanical brushing and cleaning power of a toothbrush. Toothpaste which contains fluoride helps remove plaque, a film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums every day. Plaque can cause gum disease and tooth decay. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by strengthening tooth enamel.
What’s in fluoride toothpaste?
Toothpaste ingredients typically consist of:
- Mild abrasives to remove debris and residual surface stains. Examples include calcium carbonate, dehydrated silica gels, hydrated aluminum oxides, magnesium carbonate, phosphate salts and silicates.
- Fluoride to strengthen tooth enamel and remineralize tooth decay. All ADA-Accepted toothpastes contain fluoride.
- Humectants to prevent water loss in the toothpaste. Examples include glycerol, propylene, glycol and sorbitol.
- Flavoring agents, such as saccharin and other sweeteners to provide taste. Flavoring agents do not promote tooth decay. (No ADA-Accepted toothpaste contains sugar or any other ingredient that would promote tooth decay.)
- Thickening agents or binders to stabilize the toothpaste formula. They include mineral colloids, natural gums, seaweed colloids or synthetic cellulose.
- Detergents to create foaming action. They include sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium N-Lauroyl sarcosinate.
What else can fluoride toothpaste do? Some toothpastes contain ingredients such as potassium nitrate or strontium chloride to help reduce tooth sensitivity. Stannous fluoride and triclosan help reduce gingivitis, a mild inflammation of the gum tissue. Pyrophosphates, triclosan and zinc citrate help reduce a build-up of hardened plaque, called tartar. Modified silica abrasives or enzymes can help whiten teeth by physically removing surface stains. And some ingredients, such as triclosan, have been shown to help reduce bad breath.
Your Bearable Dentistry dental professional can answer all of your questions about toothpaste and fluoride. We’ll look forward to seeing you at your next appointment. Meanwhile, be sure to floss and brush and don’t forget the toothpaste!