Toothpaste, why it matters and what’s in it?

Preventative Dentistry Burnaby Dental Centre BC

Why It Matters

The mouth contains millions of bacteria, some that are good and some that are less than friendly. To prevent these bacteria from getting out of control our team at Burnaby Dental Centre typically recommends brushing twice a day with a toothpaste. Toothpaste not only helps control these bacteria but also leaves your mouth smelling and feeling fresh. Without toothpaste, you would be only using physical force to remove the bacteria and often times that doesn’t quite cut it.

What’s In it

Most toothpastes contain several common ingredients that can be thrown into one of two categories- active and inactive. The active ingredients are what help reduce your risk of cavities and gum disease while the inactive ingredients are what give toothpaste it’s texture and taste.

Water – Most toothpastes contain 20-42% water

Abrasives – These particles make up the majority of toothpaste and help remove plaque from your teeth. They are also effective at removing stain and ‘polishing’ your teeth. It is worth noting that toothpastes that are too abrasive can contribute to enamel wear and increased sensitivity. Calcium carbonate and silica gels are two common abrasives found in many toothpastes.

Fluoride – Shown to have antibacterial properties and to help strengthen tooth structure (enamel) thus decreasing the risk of cavities. Fluoride can be a hot topic for certain people and I think it is important to have that conversation with your oral health care professional. Here at Burnaby Dental Centre, we believe in presenting our patients with the best evidence but also respecting their preferences.

Detergents – Detergents typically give toothpaste its foaming properties which is intended to help the active ingredients reach more difficult areas. They also help most people feel like they are getting a proper clean as since they are seeing/feeling this foaming action. The most common detergent is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). If you find you get canker sores often or find the tissue on the inside of your mouth is sloughing off you may want to try a SLS-free toothpaste.

Desensitizers – Many toothpastes will contain a compound that aids in reducing tooth sensitivity. Potassium nitrate and stannous fluoride are two common desensitizing agents, although they work in two different manners.

Flavouring agents – Added to improve taste. Often are non-caloric sweeteners like saccharin or alcohol sugars like xylitol.

Binding or thickening agents – These agents are helpful in stabilizing the toothpaste. Common examples include natural gums, synthetic cellulose, mineral colloids and seaweed colloids.

Humectants – Humectants essentially traps water molecules in the toothpaste mixture, which ensures that when you use your toothpaste you get a smooth, consistent texture. Sorbitol, glycol and glycerol are some of the more common humectants you will find in toothpaste.

At Burnaby Dental Centre we pride ourselves on our high level of knowledge and the education we provide our patients. Part of this education involves helping our patients choose the best toothpaste for them, along with educating our patients on proper brushing and flossing techniques as well as the importance of regular hygiene appointments. Brushing twice a day and flossing twice a day are a part of maintaining good oral health.