Brushing your teeth is a pretty easy concept to master. Selecting the right toothpaste however, is not.
This is mainly due to the sheer number of toothpaste types in production and the number of different brands that all have their own spin (or several) on each type. For instance, industry leader Colgate alone lists over 40 different varieties of toothpaste on its website with nearly a quarter of these described as having “whitening” properties.
Not only that, but the available varieties range from fruity flavors containing fluoride which cater to the tastes of children, to those for mature adults who want a whitening toothpaste that can also address hypersensitivity experienced from receding gum margins, to prescription only toothpastes for people experiencing dental issues such as dry mouth.
In order to better understand the various types of toothpaste it’s important to know that most varieties, be they paste or gel, share some ingredients in common. These ingredients include:
Surfactants such as sodium lauryl sulfate create the suds you see when brushing and are important to the ability of toothpaste to impact the entire mouth including the hard to reach places.
Flavoring agents including artificial sweeteners such as saccharin are added to make the flavor of toothpaste appealing. While the most commonly available flavor of toothpaste is some form of mint, there are toothpastes on the market which range in flavor from chamomile, to cinnamon, to orange and even bubble gum for youngsters.
Abrasive agents such as silicates and calcium carbonate are materials that act to remove bacteria, food particles, and stains from your teeth.
Humectants are included to keep toothpaste from hardening upon exposure to air. Commonly used substances such as glycerol and sorbitol also serve to sweeten the toothpaste but moisture retention is their primary function.
Thickeners keep the solid agents in the toothpaste suspended within the liquid components. Thickeners prevent bacteria found in the mouth from breaking down pyrophosphates which control tartar buildup but most importantly, they assure that the toothpaste can be squeezed out of the tube and that it stays on your brush.