What’s Really In Your Toothpaste?

Woman Squeezing Toothpaste Onto Electric Toothbrush In Bathroom

Do you choose your toothpaste based off of the brand, color, price or by what’s in the ingredients? There are “active” and “inactive” substances added to toothpastes to give them their color (even white), thickness and flavor. You want more of the good, active ingredients that will help fight tooth decay and oral health diseases.


What’s In Your Toothpaste?

Oral health diseases (tooth decay and gum disease) are the most common diseases in the U.S. That’s why the American Dental Association recommends that every person brush their teeth at least twice a day for two minutes at a time. Patients should use quality toothpastes from trusted brands and should follow up brushing with flossing.


With brushing, you want to use toothpaste to get a really good clean for your teeth. Using water and a toothbrush only simply won’t cut it when you don’t want cavities or gum issues. Toothpastes have to be able to fight back against decay without drying out or becoming ineffective quickly. That is why there are various substances in your toothpaste such as:

  • Fluoride: This is a naturally-occurring element in the earth’s crust. It’s known as nature’s cavity fighter, because using the right amount can help shield the teeth from acids and bacteria that would decay them. Fluoride can be harmful in large amounts if swallowed, but regulations in the U.S. put fluoride in ADA-approved toothpastes at a healthy level.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: Your toothpaste foams up thanks to this ingredient, which is in many soaps. This ingredient is actually a type of detergent, but one safe for your teeth. However, if you get mouth sores or mouth irritation easy, it can be a mouth irritant. Switch to toothpastes without this ingredient if you need better healing for canker and other sores.
  • Sorbitol: Because you use toothpaste in your mouth, you don’t want it to be revolting. Sorbitol is a sweetener that is added to toothpastes, gum and many other products to sweeten up the taste. Because it is a humectant, it also keeps your toothpaste moist.
  • Glycerol: Not all ingredients are perfectly smooth and coherent in toothpaste. However, glycerol helps toothpaste to be smooth and wet instead of dry, gritty or clumpy.
  • Abrasives: The most common one is calcium carbonate, but others like silica, aluminum oxide, magnesium carbonate and phosphate salts are all abrasives to help buff and clean the teeth.


A blue tube of toothpaste that is squirting out onto a gray wooden backdrop. The toothpaste has a blue stripe and a red stripe in it.

Some Ingredients to Look For

Some ingredients may be harmful by themselves. Other ingredients will depend on the amount that is in the toothpaste. However, you can be the judge on if you buy toothpastes with these somewhat questionable ingredients:

  • Triclosan: This ingredient is found in some toothpastes, even though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found it to be an ingredient also used in pesticides. It is an antiseptic ingredient used to help with gingivitis, but can lead to bacterial resistance, endocrine system disruption, and the development of allergies.
  • Peroxides: Hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are whitening agents that bleaches the teeth. Too much can lead to tooth sensitivity and burns. These are found in over-the-counter teeth-whitening systems, but an in-office dental whitening is the safest way to use these ingredients.
  • Dyes: Vibrant toothpastes (like blue or pink) have dyes in them, which are linked somewhat to higher indications of ADHD, allergies, and certain cancers. As substances such as FD&C Blue 1 are dyes in toothpastes, maybe stick to plain white toothpaste instead.


Off-Brands: Worth It or No?

When choosing toothpastes at the store, you might want to save a few dollars by choosing “no-name” or off-brands that you don’t recognize. In your local grocery store, store brands and off-brands may be completely safe and very similar to the name-brand items. Try comparing a name-brand toothpaste with the store brand that looks just like it. Double check that ingredients are similar or the same, where the toothpaste was manufactured and if it is ADA-approved.


That ADA approval is the biggest factor in deciding if an off-brand is worth the cost or not. In the United States, safe toothpastes and other oral products should have the ADA Seal of Acceptance stamped somewhere on the packaging. The ADA states, “every product with the SEal has been scientifically evaluated by independent experts to be safe and effective.” There are many standards and guidelines companies must follow in order to get that seal. If you see it, then you can know for a surety that your product is safe for your teeth and gums. This is especially important for small children and infants.


woman shopping toiletries and household cleaning supplies goods.

Dollar Brand Origins

A study conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May 2007 found diethylene glycol (DEG) in many dollar toothpastes. This is a harmful substance found in antifreeze and various poisons, and not something that should go in your mouth.


Many “name-brand” products were also found to be fake versions of the real deal, packaged to look the same, with subtle differences. Those items came from China, South Africa and various other countries with different health standards or no health standards for oral care. The toothpaste products contained harmful chemicals, were several years expired, or contained at least 10 times the amount of fluoride allowed in toothpastes in the United States. With toothpaste, skip the dollar brands and buy trusted products.


Check Your Oral Health

If you have a condition such as gum disease, there are specific toothpastes for those conditions you will likely need. After a dental exam and visit, you can receive one of those special toothpastes from your dentist and recommendations for ones you can get on your own. If you want to improve your oral health and know what brands we trust, call us at Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies today at (970) 223-8425!