Toothpaste Guide

toothpaste guideGood oral hygiene demands you brush your beautiful teeth twice a day to keep them healthy and shining. Why do you use the toothpaste while brushing? What does it contain, and how does it help you? We will discuss these subjects, and also, talk about how to select a toothpaste with the toothpaste guide below.

What does toothpaste contain?

Most toothpastes contain some or all of five general classes of ingredients: Fluoride, abrasives, humectants, flavors, and detergents. Here is what each does.

  • Fluoride: Fluorides increase the ability of your teeth to fight tooth decay by strengthening the tooth enamel. As per American Dental Association (ADA), fluoride is ‘nature’s cavity fighter’. You should choose a toothpaste that is recommended by the ADA or your local dental regulatory authority, and contains fluoride.
  • Abrasives: All toothpastes have varying quantities of abrasive. The role of the abrasive polishing the surface of the teeth to cleanse them of food remnants. Thus they act indirectly to prevent tooth and gum disease. Abrasives have been used since ancient times. Powdered sea shells and egg shells have been mentioned in the literature. Both these substances are calcium rich. Currently, calcium carbonate, hydrated aluminum oxides, and dehydrated silicia gels powdered form are present in the tooth pastes. These abrasives are ground fine enough so that they do not harm your tooth enamel or your gums.
  • Flavors: Fancier tooth pastes may have flavors and tasting ingredients added to them. Tasting agents may be like saccharine or sorbitol. Only tooth friendly sugars are added to the toothpastes, else ADA does not give its approval. Some flavors may also be present, mint and fruit flavors being quite popular with children.
  • Humectants: Humectants are substances which help the tooth paste retain water so as not to dry up, say, in the tube. Sorbitol can play a dual role. Sorbitol is a humectant, and prevents loss of water in the toothpaste. Other examples of humectants are glycerol and glycol.
  • Detergents: Detergents generate the foam in the mouth when you brush your teeth with a toothpaste. Sodium lauryl sulfate is the most common detergent used in toothpastes.

Selecting a toothpaste

Your best advisor on all dental matters is your dentist. However, as a matter of general advice, you should look at the contents of the toothpaste which are invariably printed on the carton. These will indicate to you the ingredients of the product. In case you are buying for children, they may prefer a certain flavor and scent. As for the active ingredients, i.e., those which fight tooth decay and gum disease, it is best to select your flavor and scent from among the ADA approved toothpastes available.

How much paste to apply?

It is universally recommended by dentists that you apply just about a pea-sized sized spot of toothpaste on your brush each time. More will not help, rather if you apply toothpaste in larger quantity onto your toothpaste, it may ingested and can cause health hazards, especially in children.

On an expedition?

If you are on an expedition you will normally take your stock of toiletries along. If you run out of stock on non-dental items like body sprays, scents, etc. it is not very serious. But if you run out of your tooth paste supply, or lose your tooth brush you must find an alternative.

In the orient, a very simple solution is the ‘miswaak’ which is nothing but a brush fashioned out a fibrous green branch of a tree with one end chewed into bristles. You do not need a tooth paste with this brush because the tree juices in the branch are expected to have a medicinal effect. The brush may be usable for many weeks if you dry it after use and wet again before reuse. The brush head can be ‘renewed’ by cutting of the used part after a few days or weeks, or a new brush cut off a tree every day.


This toothpaste guide was written by a dentist. You should always consult your own dental provider when making decisions about your dental health. Find a dental provider in the United States at and get your dental needs at a discounted rate.

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