Friday, 19 October 2012

Learn more about toothpaste

What is toothpaste

  • Abrasives Detergent (1-2 per cent)
  • Binding agents (1 per cent)
  • Humectants (10-30 per cent)
  • Flavouring, sweetening and colouring agents (1-5 per cent)
  • Preservatives (0.05-0.5 per cent)
  • Water

Toothpastes are the most widely used oral health care product and there is considerable choice available to the consumer. Toothpaste types range from family anti-decay/anti-plaque types to the specific formulations for smokers, for sensitive teeth, special children's formulations and the recently introduced tooth whitening pastes which are the fastest growing sector of the toothpaste market.

Toothpaste ingredients are usually shown on packs w/w' - that is weight for weight, or grams per 100 grams. Under new European cosmetics legislation, toothpastes are required to list all ingredients. In addition to water and therapeutic agents such as fluoride, antibacterial, desensitising and anti-tartar agents, toothpaste will normally contain the following basic ingredients:

  • Abrasives
    These cleaning and polishing agents account for about a third of toothpaste by weight. Most of the abrasives used are chalk or silica based. Examples are dicalcium phosphate, sodium metaphosphate, calcium carbonate, silica, zirconium silicate or calcium pyrophosphate. Abrasives differ; an international standard defines a test paste against which toothpaste abrasivity can be assessed, but there is no system for ensuring that all toothpastes sold in the Republic of Ireland are at or below this abrasivity level.
  • Detergent (1-2 per cent)
    This makes toothpaste foam, as well as helping to distribute it round the mouth to lower surface tension and loosen plaque and other debris from the tooth surface. Examples are Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and Sodium M Lauryl Sarcosinate
  • Binding agents (1 per cent)
    These agents prevent separation of solid and liquid ingredients during storage. These are usually derived from cellulose, sodium carboxy-methyl cellulose being the most commonly used. Carrageenans (seaweed derived), xantham gums and alginates are also used.
  • Humectants (10-30 per cent)
    These agents retain moisture and prevent the toothpaste hardening on exposure to air. Glycerol, sorbitol and propylene glycol are commonly used, glycerol and sorbitol also sweeten the toothpaste, though this is not their main function.
  • Flavouring, sweetening and colouring agents (1-5 per cent)
    Peppermint, spearmint, cinnamon, wintergreen and menthol are among many, flavourings used. Mucosal irritations from toothpaste are rare and are usually linked to flavourings or preservatives. They can take the form of ulceration, gingivitis, angular cheilitis or perioral dermatitis. Flavourless toothpastes are not available commercially so the only solution is to change brand. For people who react to mint, some children's formulations are mint free - for example homeopathic toothpastes tend to avoid mint because of interactions with other homeopathic remedies, but they may also leave out fluoride.
  • Preservatives (0.05-0.5 per cent)
    Alcohols, benzoates, formaldehyde and dichlorinated phenols are added to prevent bacterial growth on the organic binders and humectants.

Above article from

Dentists Clemmons NC  
Tel: (336) 766-0511
2554 Lewisville Clemmons Rd 
Clemmons, NC 27012

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