If you ever tried not brushing your teeth in the morning, you’ll know how weird that feels. Nothing beats having a clean, fresh and minty feeling in your mouth to start off your day.
I’m guessing not many people are aware of what goes into the making of your everyday toothpaste. It is something that is required but not questioned.
Maybe it is about time you learn more about this basic necessity.
The History Of Toothpaste
The Egyptians have been documented to use a toothpaste-like mixture to brush their teeth more than 5000 years ago.
This mixture actually did more harm than good as it was abrasive but it did a fine job of keeping their teeth clean.
The components of toothpaste have evolved over the years. It started with ingredients like crushed salt, mint, crushed bones, oyster shells, charcoal, eggshells and ox hooves.
Not something anyone would consider putting in their mouths in this modern world.
These days our toothpaste contains ingredients like Sudsers, abrasives, fluoride, flavors, humectants and binders.
Let’s further explore what each ingredient does.
Sudsers are cleaning agents like the soap you use to wash hands and the detergent for your clothes and floor.
Well, you are not exactly using washing detergent to clean your teeth but it functions the same way. One common sudser used in toothpaste is sodium lauryl sulfate.
This ingredient helps to create those bubbles and foam as you brush your teeth to get rid of all the nasty stuff.
As the name suggests, this component is abrasive in nature because it takes some effort to keep our teeth clean. It is also considered an inactive ingredient as it doesn’t help to prevent tooth or gum disease.
In the past, abrasives in toothpaste consisted did more harm than good like gum damage. These days, the abrasive in toothpaste is made from baking soda or hydrated silica. These ingredients are gentler on your tooth enamel.
If too much of your tooth enamel is eroded off, it can cause sensitive teeth.
Fluoride is a very important and active ingredient in toothpaste. It helps protect your tooth enamel and keep your teeth strong from the wear and tear of everyday use. It is found in trace quantities in both plants and animals.
To be honest, toothpaste on its own taste pretty bad without any flavoring. Try brushing your teeth with baking soda or dry chalk and you’ll get what I mean. The flavoring used in toothpaste is often minty in taste for a nice pick me up in the morning.
It is also a bit sweet tasting due to the artificial sweetening agent like saccharin or sorbitol. But don’t worry as these components won’t give you tooth decay.
Not all toothpastes taste minty though. Toothpaste for kids can in more neutral flavors like fruits or ice cream. This helps young kids get accustomed to brushing their teeth on a regular basis.
If you ever tried using toothpaste that has dried up, you’ll know how hard it can be to brush your teeth. Humectant systems help to keep your toothpaste in its soft paste form by trapping water in it.
The binders in toothpaste help to give the toothpaste volume and keep all the ingredients together in the paste. It is like one big chemical taco wrap.
Dangers Of Using Toothpaste
This might sound alien to many of us but there are a group of dental professionals who feel that toothpaste do more harm than good.
As mentioned earlier, the abrasives in toothpaste help to polish and scrub our tooth enamel. Some doctors argue that the abrasives used in modern toothpaste is still too harsh on our teeth and should be avoided.
They recommend using water to brush our teeth instead. Studies have shown that brushing with water is just or even more effective than using toothpaste.
Doesn’t Prevent Plague
Plague is this sticky substance that is caused by eating sweet stuff. It sticks to the surface of your teeth and can cause dental issues.
It has been shown that toothpaste doesn’t necessarily remove the plague. What removes plague is through the act of brushing. The bristles from your toothbrush do a pretty fine job of removing plague. Therefore, toothpaste is not required for the job.
It Is Toxic
Before you start dumping your toothpaste in the trash, toothpaste if used in the right amounts isn’t toxic.
However, if a kid were to eat an entire tube of toothpaste out of curiosity, it can cause issues like diahrrea, vomiting and other tummy issues.
Toothpaste is also very toxic to cats and dogs due to the presence of the artificial sweetener, Xylitol. It is toxic enough to be fatal to cats and dogs. So please keep it away from your pets.
Alternatives To Toothpaste
Do you know that you can substitute toothpaste with some other less abrasive ingredients?
There are some of the alternatives that people have been using:
- Sea salt
- Baking soda
- Coconut oil
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Essential oil
Since it has been shown that brushing one’s teeth can be done effectively with just water and a good toothbrush, you can do more research into looking for better toothpaste.
How To Choose A Good Toothpaste?
Most consumers will just stick to a certain toothpaste out of brand loyalty. But how good is the brand that you are using?
Here are some tips that can help you choose the right toothpaste.
ADA Seal Of Acceptance
The ADA seal of acceptance shows that the ingredients used in the toothpaste are safe and non-toxic. It also serves as verification that the toothpaste does what it says it can do. If you are getting anything to do with dental hygiene like dental floss and mouthwash, stick to one that has the ADA seal of acceptance.
On top of the ADA seal, look for brands whose products have been approved by the FDA. This gives you double peace of mind that the toothpaste you’re using won’t do more harm than good in the long run.
Avoid Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
As mentioned earlier, sodium lauryl sulfate is used as a sudser in toothpaste. It can irritation for people with sensitive teeth and gums. Stick to toothpaste that uses sodium lauryl sarcosinate which is a milder cleansing agent.
Use One That Is Less Abrasive
It is normal for toothpaste to contain abrasive agents to remove the gunk stuck on our teeth. But an abrasive that is too strong or harsh can remove too much enamel over the long term. Stick to a toothbrush that is less abrasive.
Even though you know now that not all toothpaste are made equal, it is not a good reason for you to stop having practising good dental hygiene.
On top of brushing your teeth regularly, make sure to also see your dentist at least once a year for a full dental checkup.