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The Truth About Toothpaste

By Jill Feilmeier on June 4, 2013 in Dental Health

Patient and dentist having conversation

You brush your teeth with toothpaste every day. But have you ever thought about what's in it?

The first toothpaste was far from minty fresh. Ancient Egyptians used the tasty combination of powdered pumice (a porous rock formed in volcanic eruptions) with vinegar and applied it to their teeth.

Toothpaste today may taste better, but it's still a mixture of ingredients – an abrasive, a detergent, a thickener, a humectant (moisturizer), water and other elements – that give it taste and color. Your toothpaste should also contain a fluoride compound that helps prevent tooth decay.

Toothpaste today now helps with a variety of tooth problems, including stain removal. It helps prevent tooth decay by removing food particles and sticky plaque from teeth. Plaque, a substance that forms on teeth, is made up of oral bacteria that can erode a tooth's enamel, resulting in cavities.

When buying toothpaste, what's the most important ingredient?

Fluoride, says the American Dental Association.

Fluoride helps protect teeth from painful cavities. Other toothpastes have ingredients that help:

• Whiten teeth.
• Control tartar.
• Prevent gum disease.
• Freshen breath.
• Desensitize teeth from discomfort.

Whatever type of toothpaste you choose to buy, the most important thing to remember is to use it twice a day for 2 minutes each time!