Good oral health is an indication of a healthy body and mind. To maintain this oral health we need various aids and toothpaste is one of the most common and widely used one. Its other common name is Dentrifice. We all use toothpastes but with such a huge variety of toothpastes available in the market it becomes a big question i.e. Which toothpaste should I choose? Should I go for fluoridated one or with tartar control or the one with specific formula or all natural ingredients or with tooth whitening qualities? Range is huge and the choice depends upon one’s own oral health needs. Our mouth is a home to thousands of bacteria, which by feeding upon food in our mouth leads to the formation of acid and volatile sulfur particles. The acid formed attacks and weakens tooth enamel. The volatile particles lead to Bad Breath. This is where the role of a toothpaste starts. It has to not only prevent acid formation but also to dissolve volatile particles. Toothpastes come in liquid, powder and gel form. Studies show that one need not be very particular on the toothpaste being used but one should adhere to proper cleansing methods i.e. brushing. If brushing is not done properly there is nothing to stop the teeth from caries and periodontal disease. But does this mean that it is the toothbrush and not the toothpaste which is important? The answer is NO. It is actually a combination of right brushing techniques and toothpaste. It is the toothpaste that helps in removal of plaque and cleaning the teeth. Thus a toothpaste improves and facilitates mechanical brushing of a toothbrush. Its various content work in a scheduled way.The main job of a toothbrush and toothpaste is to remove Plaque, a thin film formed by bacteria on teeth and gums. It has abrasives which polish the teeth. It eliminates bad breath, strengthens gums to prevent tooth loss and its fluoride content prevents tooth decay.

What does toothpaste contain

Ever thought what that thick white gel type material that comes out of tube called toothpaste contains? Toothpaste contains ingredients to fight plaque and prevent periodontal disease. Its active ingredients are abrasives, fluorides, humectants, thickening agents or binders, detergents, colors, flavoring agents, preservatives and sweeteners.

Toothpastes essentially contain some mild abrasives to remove debris and stains on teeth. Abrasives such as calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, silica and alumina are common. These abrasives remove plaque and polish the teeth. Polishing depends upon particle size, higher the particle size higher is the abrasive action. This is the reason toothpowders are not recommended by dentists.

Fluoride is an active ingredient of toothpastes, which fights against acid forming bacteria and strengthens the enamel. It forms a compound with enamel which resists attack from acid formed by bacteria, resident in our mouth. It is the most important ingredient in toothpastes.

Humectants - help in maintaining moisture in toothpastes

Thickening agents or binders such as seaweed colloids, natural gums and synthetic cellulose help in stabilizing the toothpaste formula.

Flavoring agents such as Vanilla, Mint, Strawberry etc.

Detergents create foaming action.

Some toothpastes also contain brighteners the only purpose of which to make the tooth glow in ultraviolet rays ( sunlight).

Triclosan is also an ingredient in toothpastes (Total). This fights against Gingivitis, Plaque, and tooth decay.

Metal salts such as Zinc and Stannous chloride are also known to fight against Decay and Plaque.

Carbamide peroxide and Baking soda are known to have tooth whitening effects.

Surfactant helps in removal of food debris

Types of toothpastes

Medicated Toothpastes

These toothpastes are recommended by dentists for particular reasons and dental problems. These toothpastes contain a higher concentration of an ingredient which works for the patients problem.

For sensitive Teeth

Teeth become sensitive in patients with gum recession. As a result their nerve endings become exposed and hence the pain. In these cases the dentist recommends toothpastes containing sodium chloride, silver nitrate, potassium nitrate which blocks the nerve endings and relieves the patient from pain. These toothpastes act as astringent in bleeding gums.

Fluoride Toothpastes

These toothpastes contain sodium chloride, silver nitrate, potassium nitrate which make the tooth resistant to acid attack from bacteria in mouth, which feeds on left over food.These toothpastes are not recommended for small children who are not able to spit properly as it may result in flouride toxicity.

Plaque Toothpastes

These toothpastes work against the formation of tartar.

Nonmedicated Toothpastes

These toothpastes are the general toothpastes found in all the stores.They have a balance of all the ingredients.

Do Toothpastes Cure Acne

Nowadays we often hear that people apply toothpaste on pimples. Is it advised to do so? The reason people apply toothpastes is that it contains Triclosan, which is known to be antifungal and antibacterial. It is an active ingredient of many anti-acne creams, deodorants, soaps and body washes.It is an inexpensive home remedy for acne.

Some people advise using toothpaste as a remedy for acne, as it dries very fast while some vote against it. Toothpastes have some ingredients which cause redness and irritation of skin. Thus applying toothpaste would aggravate the problem instead of solving it.It is advised to use spot treating acne creams containing Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide for better results.

Why do my teeth become yellow

Teeth have an innermost layer called dentin. Dentin is known to discolor with age. As our age progresses, dentin becomes yellowish in colour. It is also known to become yellow with Fluoride exposure. This is called Intrinsic staining. Our outermost layer of teeth is called Enamel, which is porous. It picks up stains from whatever we eat or drink. The main culprits are tea, coffee, red wine, cigarettes, tobacco etc. One should avoid them or rinse well after consuming them.

Do teeth whitening toothpastes actually help

The answer is Yes.Depending on the stains, the toothpastes made specially for whitening purposes do a good job .However one should be consistent in their usage and wait for atleast 4 weeks for effective result. In case of old stains or severe staining one should go for professional cleaning.These toothpastes do not actually whiten the teeth but like any other ‘car-wash’helps in removal of dirt and grime leaving the teeth white and shiny.

Facts one should know about teeth whitening

1.    This procedure is not covered under dental plans

2.   Tooth whitening products make teeth a shade lighter than the original color. They cannot replace professional cleaning by a dentist.

3.    For everlasting results one should avoid tea, coffee, red wine, cigarettes etc.

4.    Tooth whitening kits have different effect on different people’s set of teeth.

5.    IN case one has cavities one should get them filled first before going in for whitening.

6.    Dentists whitening kits work better as they have stronger peroxide in them.

7.    Patients with gum disease should not go in for Teeth whitening.

Problems encountered with toothpastes

Canker sores- Some people encounter this problem as toothpastes contain a detergent SLS(sodium lauryl sulfate).It causes problems only in some sensitive patients. The patients got relief when they used SLS deficit toothpaste. Biotene containing toothpastes also help in such cases.

Sensitivity- some toothpastes have higher abrasive power which results in removal of uppermost layer of enamel and exposing dentin. This leads to sensitive tooth-feeling pain on anything hot or cold. One should avoid such abrasive toothpastes.

Fluoride – Children who cannot spit properly should not be given fluoride toothpastes as it may lead to fluoride toxicity.

Baking powder- Is baking powder good as a toothpaste? Some people wonder if it is an effective ingredient to look for or not. Dentists agree that it has little to do for cleaning but gives a fresh breath feeling. Some people feel that it gives them an incentive to brush again for the fresh feeling, hence it is worth the investment. It is a caution for everyone that it is known to aggravate tooth sensitivity and High blood pressure.

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