The Doctor is In | The ingredients in toothpaste and what they mean

When going to the grocery store to get more toothpaste, it can be quite challenging to understand what each ingredient is and does.

For many people, oral health means brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist twice a year. However, using the right toothpaste is important for your oral health as well.

It can be overwhelming to choose a toothpaste with so many options available, but understanding the ingredient list can help you decide which one will best serve your needs.

What toothpastes should you consider?

The American Dental Association promotes the safety and efficacy of dental products through its Seal of Acceptance. Any product with the ADA Seal of Acceptance has undergone testing to prove its safety and efficacy according to the ADA requirements. Regardless of which product you chose, it is best to choose one with an ADA Seal of Acceptance.

What ingredients should you look for?

One of the most common tooth-related concerns are cavities. One study showed that 20 percent of adults in the U.S. have untreated cavities. Fluoride-containing toothpaste is proven to prevent cavities when compared to non-fluoride toothpaste.

There is also specific toothpaste for those with teeth sensitivity, which is temporary pain that occurs when eating, drinking, or brushing teeth. Potassium nitrate has been shown to reduce sensitivity. Persistent sensitivity and pain should be addressed with your dentist, who can prescribe higher-strength toothpaste.

Finally, for those struggling with gum disease, stannous fluoride has been proven to have a positive impact on gingivitis when compared to non-stannous fluoride toothpaste.

An additional factor to keep in mind when selecting toothpaste is whether the company makes a cosmetic or therapeutic claim. Toothpaste can be referred to as a “personal care product,” which makes it a cosmetic. For reference, other items considered cosmetic include perfumes, lipsticks, and shampoos.

Toothpastes that are not considered drugs are not subject to the same rigorous premarket approval by the FDA. Keeping this in mind, it is important to determine if the claims made by cosmetic toothpaste are accurate. Although this can be difficult to determine at the grocery store, it can be determined at home with a little bit of research.

  • Abhigna Akurathi, 2nd Year Dental Student

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