How Does Toothpaste Work?

The Surprising Ingredients that Keep your Mouth Clean

By Dr. Anthony Hill
‹ Back to Dental Health
Posted in on June 28th, 2018

Have you ever wondered how toothpaste works, or why it makes orange juice taste so bad? Have you heard the rumors that toothpaste is made from seaweed? Most of us know that brushing twice a day helps prevent cavities, but the list of ingredients on the toothpaste label can be hard to understand. Here is a basic breakdown of some of the main ingredients you will find in most brands of toothpaste, and how they help protect your teeth.

Fluoride: Molecular Armor

Brushing with fluoride toothpaste is like putting a molecular coat of armor on your teeth. Fluoride is a mineral that is found naturally in the ground. It is added to most drinking water in America because of its dental health benefits. It actually binds to your teeth and changes their chemical composition to be more resistant to the acids that cause cavities.

Abrasives: To Scrub Your Teeth Clean

Most toothpaste has abrasive ingredients to gently scrub away food, plaque, and bacteria that were stuck to your teeth. One common abrasive is hydrated silica, which is also used in some packaging to keep food dry.

Foaming Agents: The Soapy Bubbles that Wash out your Mouth

When you brush your teeth, it creates a foam that picks up and helps wash away particles of food that the abrasives scrub off. This comes from foaming agents like baking soda and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. These chemicals also block your taste buds from detecting sweetness. Until this effect wears off, you will mostly taste the bitter, salty, and sour flavors in food. This is why food, and especially orange juice, may taste really bad right after you brush your teeth.

Flavor, Texture, and Color: To Make it More Appealing

Most of us prefer putting things into our mouth that have a pleasant flavor, texture, and color. Without these ingredients, toothpaste would not be very pleasant. Because adding sugar would defeat the whole purpose of toothpaste, artificial sweeteners and flavors are added to improve the taste. Have you ever heard that toothpaste is made with seaweed? Carrageenan, or seaweed gum, is one of the most common ingredients used to make toothpaste smooth and creamy. Artificial coloring is also added to make toothpaste look better.

While the ingredients in toothpaste are harmless in small quantities, swallowing too much toothpaste can be very bad for you. This is why children should always have adult supervision while learning to brush their teeth, and should only use a tiny amount of toothpaste.
Brushing your teeth twice a day is great for maintaining the health of your teeth, but nothing gets them clean like a visit to the dentist. We are always happy to give you a professional cleaning and fluoride treatment.

To book an appointment, Call 281-376-0911 or Make an Appointment Online.

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