For most people, brushing your teeth twice a day is just a habit. It’s been part of our routine since childhood, so we don’t really think about it — and most of us don’t think twice about our toothpaste, either.
Maybe you just buy the cheapest tube in the dental hygiene aisle. Or maybe you picked a brand one day years ago and have simply stuck to it ever since. I mean, how different can all the choices even be, right?
Well, it turns out we should be thinking about it. Your toothpaste is not only an integral part of your oral health — certain ingredients can actually have adverse side effects on your entire body over time.
Let’s take a look at toothpaste ingredients you want in your bathroom cabinet and those you want to avoid.
You want your toothpaste to have:
Fluoride is the number one most important ingredient to have in your toothpaste. It’s a chemical compound that can prevent tooth cavities and decay by making your teeth enamel more resistant to demineralization.
In short, fluoride strengthens your teeth so they can better stand up to your diet and daily habits!
While many city water supplies have small amounts of fluoride, it’s still important to get a healthy dose in your toothpaste — especially if you’re one of the growing number of people using well water.
Some type of mild abrasive
“Abrasive” might sound scary, but it can actually be really helpful in your toothpaste.
In order to remove plaque, tartar, and surface stains from your teeth, your toothpaste needs to have at least some abrasive action. The key is to find an option that’s abrasive enough to get the job done without being so harsh that it wears away on your enamel.
How do you know if your toothpaste hits the mark? The American Dental Association actually has an abrasiveness scale referred to as the Relative Dentin Abrasivity or RDA. Anything under 250 is considered safe by their standards!
You don’t want your toothpaste to have:
Triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal agent that was originally included in toothpaste to help prevent gingivitis. Unfortunately, we’ve recently realized that it does more harm than good — it can cause endocrine disruption, negatively impact your body’s immune system, and lead to antibiotic resistance.
Some evidence also suggests that triclosan is a carcinogen. When combined with small amounts of chlorine in tap water, it’s actually capable of creating chloroform gas.
Most toothpaste companies are phasing out triclosan from their offerings, but it’s a good idea to check your tube to make sure.
Some toothpastes have artificial sweeteners like sorbitol to improve taste — and most of them just aren’t necessary. In fact, sorbitol is a laxative known for causing digestive discomfort, especially in children.
On the other hand, there’s one artificial sweetener that might actually be good for your teeth: xylitol.
Some small studies suggest that xylitol can help prevent cavities when paired with fluoride, but we’re waiting for more research. There’s no need to avoid it, but you don’t need to seek it out, either.
Always consult with your dentist for recommendations
We know that looking through ingredients can be overwhelming! If you have questions about what toothpaste is right for you, your dentist is happy to help.
Feel free to ask for our recommendations at your next appointment!