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Choosing the right toothpaste

Dental | March 26, 2019 | Author: Naturopath


Choosing the right toothpaste

With lots of variety available choosing a toothpaste for dental care can be over-whelming. Tartar-control, sensitivity, whitening and those that claim to repair are just some of the choices. This article looks at some common ingredients to help you make a more informed choice for what is the best tooth paste for you.

Toothpaste has been around for centuries with past civilizations using ingredients such as rock salt, crushed bone or shells, dried iris flowers, burnt bread, charcoal, soap or anything that was abrasive and maybe smelt nice, being used to create a paste for teeth cleaning. Post WW1 saw commercial toothpaste being manufactured containing hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and then fluoride.

Why brush teeth

Brushing teeth properly helps prevent tooth decay (caries) and gum disease (gingivitis) which can lead to tooth loss. Brushing aids the removal of food and oral plaque. It can help reduce halitosis (bad breath) by removing the bacterial culprits and promotes dental hygiene.  

Why use toothpaste?

Why use toothpaste?While brushing alone has been shown to help prevent tooth decay, some of the active ingredients in toothpaste can also help.

Dentifrice - toothpastes, powders and gels, generally contain 3 main components and water.

  • Abrasive product
  • Fluoride
  • Detergent
  • Water 20 -40%


Like the name suggest, are coarse particles designed to aid in the removal of plaque and calculus, preventing the accumulation of tartar. Although, studies have shown the use of abrasives to help minimize cavities and periodontal disease is no more beneficial than brushing alone. Abrasives can also work as whitening agents.

Commonly used abrasives include: particles of aluminum hydroxide, calcium carbonate, various calcium hydrogen phosphates, various silicas and zeolites, mica and hydroxyapatite. Calcium phosphate also has remineralizing properties for tooth enamel.

These abrasives cause a small amount of enamel erosion through their polishing action which aids in the removal of stains from tooth surfaces. The abrasive effect of toothpaste is indicated by its relative dentin abrasivity (RDA value). Too high RDA values are deleterious. Some dentists recommend toothpaste with an RDA value no higher than 50 for daily use.


Using fluoride in a paste for cleaning teeth has been shown to reduce the regrowth of dental plaque. The most effective way of caries prevention is the use of fluoride. Fluoride occurs naturally and through dietary intake, respiration and fluoride supplements and in toothpaste.
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These are foaming ingredients designed to help distribute the dentifrice around the oral cavity, improving cleaning capacity.  Why use toothpaste?

A common detergent/surfactant is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) also found in other cosmetic products like shampoo and body washes. SLS has been found to irritatate for some people. Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) is a similar chemical structure, is milder and may cause less irritation. SLS and SLES are compounds produced from petroleum and plant sources such as coconut and palm oil.

Average concentration is around 1-2 %. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regards SLS as a safe additive. Cocamidopropyl Betaine is another surfactant often derived from plant oils.

Other ingredients found in toothpaste might include: an antibacterial agent, re-mineralizers, flavourings, and various miscellaneous components.

Antibacterial agents can help reduce plaque-forming bacteria and gingivitis. Natural ingredients with antimicrobial properties such as tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), propolis, Aloe vera and Xylitol. Studies found using ethanolic extract of propolis and tea tree oil toothpaste showed improved hygiene and the condition of the periodontium of denture patients, though no influence on the reduction of denture plaque was found. A positive improvement in the composition of beneficial microorganisms’ in the oral microflora was observed. Other antibacterial agent are Triclosan and baking soda.

‚ÄčBaking soda/ Bicarb soda. Along with a significant bactericidal activity against oral pathogens, the low abrasiveness of toothpaste containing baking soda, whilst still offering stain-reducing and whitening properties, make it especially suited for safe daily use. Baking soda also offers neutralization of plaque acids thereby reducing caries and as well as facilitation of remineralization of carious lesions.

Flavourings are included to encourage use. Peppermint, spearmint and anise are common flavours used. Other ingredients used to enhance taste are; Saccharin and Sodium Saccharin, Glycerol, Sorbitol, Acesulfame Potassium, Sucralose, Limonene, Xylitoland and Erythritol.

Xylitol is a naturally-occurring sugar alcohol which inhibits acid production by oral bacteria and promotes remineralisation of the teeth. This natural sweetener has been found to reduce the bacteria streptococcus mutan responsible for majority of dental cavities. This particular sweetener does not fuel bacteria and is considered to be the healthier alternative than sucrose, fructose and lactose. Xylitol can support oral health by helping to reduce dental caries, halitosis, excessive plaque and gingivitis conditions. Sorbitol and Erythritol are other sugar alcohols which offer low-calorie sweeteners from nature.

Re-mineralizers such as Hydroxyapatite nanocrystals, baking soda and a variety of calcium phosphates are included in formulations to support the mineralization of tooth enamel. Remineralisation of tooth enamel is a naturally occurring process in the oral cavity. Calcium and phosphate ions promote ion deposition into crystal voids in enamel that has become demineralised. This is a continuous process often thwarted by acidity. Remineralisation is most important in the management of non-cavitated carious and prevention of disease progression within the oral cavity. This process can contribute towards restoring strength and function within tooth structure.

Why use toothpaste?Whitening ingredient. Specific ingredients hydrogen peroxide, glycerine and baking soda.

Reduce sensitivity.
Sensitivity can occur for a number of reasons such as forced or false tooth-brushing techniques or abrasions caused by bruxism or orthodontic procedures. Ingredients to help with sensitivity include: Potassium chloride, strontium chloride and calendula.

Calendula officinalis has been shown to help modulate inflammation in the treatment of periodontitis. Strontium chloride salt reduced sensitivity in regular at-home use of a dentifrice containing 10% strontium chloride hexahydrate.  

Miscellaneous components might include agents to prevent toothpaste drying out. 

Activated charcoal is a fine grain substance made from a such things as coconut shell, olive pips, peat and slow burned wood which is porous enabling it to absorb toxins and odours.

You don’t have to brush all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep.” (Unknown)  Australia’s best online discount chemist


Is plaque regrowth inhibited by dentifrice? A systematic review and meta-analysis with trial sequential analysis.


Does dentifrice use help to remove plaque? A systematic review.

Oral Health of Patients Treated with Acrylic Partial Dentures Using a Toothpaste Containing Bee Product

The Effect of Calendula officinalis on Oxidative Stress and Bone Loss in Experimental Periodontitis

Efficacy of strontium chloride in dental hypersensitivity.

Baking soda dentifrices and oral health

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