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The Make of Toothpaste

From a marketing perspective, all of the other things that are in your toothpaste are in there to give it additional perceived value. So let’s deconstruct these ingredient

1. Fluoride.

This was probably the first additive to toothpaste that brought it under the jurisdiction of the Food & Drug Administration and made toothpaste part drug, part cosmetic. Over time, a fluoride toothpaste can improve the strength of teeth, but the fluoride itself does nothing to make teeth cleaner. Some people are scared of fluoride so they don’t use it. Their choice. Professionally speaking, I know that the benefits of a fluoride additive far outweigh the risks.

2. Foam.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is soap. Soap has a creamy, thick texture that American tongues especially like and equate to the feeling of cleanliness. There’s not enough surfactant, though, in toothpaste foam to break up the goo that grows on your teeth. If these bubbles scrubbed, you’d better believe that they would also scrub your delicate gum tissues into a bloody pulp.

3. Abrasive particles.

Most toothpastes use hydrated silica as the grit that polishes teeth. You’re probably most familiar with it as the clear beady stuff in the “Do Not Eat” packets. Depending on the size and shape of the particles, silica is the whitening ingredient in most whitening toothpastes. But whitening toothpaste cannot get your teeth any whiter than a professional dental cleaning, because it only cleans the surface. Two weeks to a whiter smile? How about 30 minutes with your hygienist? It’s much more efficient and less harsh.

4. Desensitizers.

Teeth that are sensitive to hot, cold, sweets, or a combination can benefit from the addition of potassium nitrate or stannous fluoride to a toothpaste. This is more of a palliative treatment, when the pain is the problem. Good old Time will usually make teeth feel better, too, unless the pain is coming from a cavity. Yeah, I’m talking to you, the person who is trying to heal the hole in their tooth with Sensodyne.

5. Tartar control.

It burns! It burns! If your toothpaste has a particular biting flavor, it might contain tetrasodium pyrophosphate, an ingredient that is supposed to keep calcium phosphate salts (tartar, or calculus) from fossilizing on the back of your lower front teeth. A little tartar on your teeth doesn’t harm you unless it gets really thick and you can no longer keep it clean. One problem with tartar control toothpastes is that in order for the active ingredient to work, it has to be dissolved in a stronger detergent than usual, which can affect people that are sensitive to a high pH.

6. Triclosan.

This antimicrobial is supposed to reduce infections between the gum and tooth. However, if you just keep the germs off of your teeth in the first place it’s pretty much a waste of an extra ingredient. Its safety has been questioned but, like fluoride, the bulk of the scientific research easily demonstrates easily that the addition of triclosan in toothpaste does much more good than harm

7.Humectant Systems

This refers to a combination of ingredients that retain moisture in the toothpaste (humectants) and keep all the ingredients from separating (binding agents). If toothpaste didn’t have these components, it would dry out or require stirring before use just like paint. Here are some common components of humectant systems:

Humectants: glycerol, propylene glycol and sorbitol.

Binders: Carrageenan (seaweed gum), gum arabic (sap from the Acacia tree), sodium carboxymethylcellulose and magnesium aluminum silicate (both synthetics).

Preservatives for non-fluoride toothpastes: sodium benzoate, methyl paraben, ethyl paraben (gentle antimicrobial agents used as preservatives in foods, beverages and cosmetics).


The ADA will not put its seal on toothpastes that contain sugar or any other ingredient that promotes tooth decay. Toothpaste would taste pretty bad without the addition of flavoring agents, which is why you will always find various natural and artificial flavorings and sweeteners such as saccharin. The humectant sorbitol also adds a sweet taste. The ADA will not put its seal on toothpastes that contain sugar or any other ingredient that promotes tooth decay

Halal Toothpaste

Since the use of pork and its byproducts are forbidden in Islam, practicing Muslims must stay clear of any products containing these ingredients.

What many don’t realize is that it’s a common practice to use pork-based ingredients in cosmetics and personal hygiene products, such as toothpaste.

When looking at the ingredients used in toothpaste, it’s important to pay particular attention whenever glycerin is listed, as it may be derived from pork fat.

Since manufacturer often fail to state where their glycerin is derived from, it’s often difficult to determine the exact type of glycerin used in products. Glycerin can be made from the fat and lard of cows and pigs, or it can also be completely plant based., the best way to be guaranteed halal toothpaste is to look for products certified as being halal or vegan.

For the most part, toothpaste manufacturers use glycerin as a sweetening and preserving agent for their products.

While some manufacturers will list whether their glycerin is plant based or derived from animals directly on the label, most only list the word glycerin, which can be frustrating to those who desire a more detailed description.

Manufacturers may also alter their glycerin sources every now and then, depending on which type is cheaper at any given time.

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