Toothpaste might be something that is used every day all over Australia, but few people know exactly what goes into the average tube. You might have read the ingredients list on your preferred brand of toothpaste, but do you know what they all are? Read on to discover what the major ingredients of all toothpastes are and what function they perform in this crucial healthcare product used the world over.
One of the best-known ingredients in toothpaste is fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral. Fluoride is an important thing to have in a product which is designed to protect your teeth because it helps to remineralise your teeth's enamel. Simply coming into contact with fluoride causes your teeth to harden. The brushing you do is to make sure that debris is removed from your teeth and to make sure each part of every tooth gets a thorough coating of this all-important ingredient.
These do a cleaning job, as you would expect from their name. Ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate tend to be used to keep your teeth looking good. Detergents also help guard against bacteria building up, which might lead to gingivitis in some cases. Some detergents, like hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, are known for their tooth whitening properties and are added to products which are marketed as such.
These ingredients are not exactly active in that they have no direct effect on your teeth's health. However, they help to make the other ingredients work better. Essentially, abrasives make the paste a bit rougher, which means the scrubbing effect of your brush is more effective.
Mint-flavoured toothpaste is by far the most common, but all sorts of other flavours can be found — especially those which cater to the sensitive palates of kids. Mint is often preferred because it offers a clean and tingling sensation in the mouth. However, there is no clinical reason for this to be the flavour of your toothpaste. Anyone for tomato- or bubble gum-flavoured toothpaste for the next brush?
Humectants include things like sorbitol, which is a well-known artificial sweetener. Although humectants are there to make the paste more pleasant to the taste, they also make sure that the consistency of the product is maintained. If your toothpaste gets hard or dries out easily when it is squeezed out, then it will probably have a level of humectants that is too low.