There are numerous ingredients included in common toothpastes. Some have a direct effect on your teeth. Other ingredients may not be as important, but serve a useful role nonetheless. Here is a list of all types of ingredients you may encounter while searching for the toothpaste that is best for your mouth:
Fluoride provides protection against potential cavities. Examples include sodium monofluorophosphate, sodium fluoride, and stannous fluoride.
ANTIMICROBIAL (Anti-plaque and gingivitis):
Antimicrobial agents kill bacteria or inhibit their actions. Examples include triclosan and fluoride.
Plaque can absorb minerals in your saliva and turns into a hard tartar. This calcification process can be prevented. Tartar controlling agents include zinc citrate and zinc chloride.
Abrasive agents help remove tough stains. Examples include silicas, calcium carbonate, calcium pyro-phosphate, and alumina trihydrate.
Hypersensitivity plagues most everyone at one point or another. It can be treated with chemicals such as potassium nitrate which acts on nerve endings to inhibit pain signals. The other commonly used chemical, strontium chloride, acts to block the tiny tubules that house your tooth’s nerve endings.
Without humectants toothpaste would dry out quickly. Often these materials also help add sweetness and carry the therapeutic agents. Examples include sorbitol, glycerin, and polyethylene glycol.
Foaming agents serve to make your brushing experience more refreshing and leave you with a clean feeling in your mouth. Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is commonly used in this way and also serves to alter the acid/base balance in your favor.
Toothpastes are given their appearance in many different ways. For example, titanium dioxide provides an opaque appearance, vegetable dyes add color, and titantated mica is used for sparkle. Without these, toothpaste can look pretty ugly (as you may have noticed with natural toothpastes, but these ingredients are by no means necessary.
It’s difficult to brush your teeth if the toothpaste tastes awful. Xylitol (also useful in preventing cavities) and other sugar substitutes, cinnamon, and spearmint and peppermint oils are commonly added to mask any bitter ingredients. Many natural toothpastes will also use fruit extracts.
Thickening ingredients help hold the other ingredients in place and prevent them separating. Carrageenan, xantham gum, carboxy-vinyl polymer, and hydroxyethyl cellulose are just a few examples.
Dispersants or detergents help the active ingredients spread throughout the mouth more easily which assists in any cleansing activity. Sodium lauryl sulfate is the most common type of dispersant but has been shown to cause some harmful effects to certain people.