Toothpaste Ingredients: What to Pick and What to Avoid

There are dozens of toothpastes on the market, all promising to give you a bright, shiny smile and protection from cavities. Which toothpaste ingredients deliver on their promises, and which should you avoid?

This handy guide to toothpaste ingredients will help you narrow down your selection. Of course, you can always ask your Fioritto dentist for suggestions—we’ll be happy to make recommendations based on your oral healthcare needs.

Look for these ingredients

Look for a toothpaste which features the following ingredients:

  • Hydrogen peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide can reduce stains. In large amounts, it can damage your enamel. However, the amount present in toothpaste is safe for you to use.
  • Fluoride: Fluoride fights cavities, strengthens enamel and prevents tooth decay. Any toothpaste with the ADA seal contains fluoride. Generally, fluoride is safe to consume, including in drinking water—but talk to your dentist if you have concerns.
  • Calcium carbonate: Calcium carbonate is a mild abrasive, which can quickly reduce stains without damaging your enamel. Remember, however, that brushing too hard with any toothpaste can harm your teeth and gums.
  • Zinc citrate: Zinc citrate helps cut down on plaque buildup. Tartar occurs when the calcium in your saliva is absorbed into plaque. Zinc citrate helps reduce bacteria and plaque, and can prevent tartar.
  • Potassium nitrate: Potassium nitrate helps reduce tooth sensitivity. If eating cold or sweet foods makes you cringe in pain, look for this ingredient. Remember that it can take several weeks to notice a real difference.

Avoid these additives

Not every “miracle ingredient” delivers on its promises. Some ingredients are more harmful than helpful:

  • Activated charcoal: Activated charcoal is a popular ingredient, thanks to promises that it can whiten teeth better than other traditional ingredients. Beware: it’s actually a highly abrasive additive which can wear down your enamel. The black color may be a novel addition to your dental care routine, but it’s not worth the potential harm.
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate: This ingredient is added to create a foaming action, which can enhance that “clean” feeling. However, some people have negative reactions to the ingredient. If you experience redness, swelling or mouth sores, check your toothpaste ingredients—and avoid this one in the future.
  • Triclosan: This ingredient isn’t very popular these days, but you may still see it on the shelves. Triclosan is thought to contribute to thyroid hormone problems, and could even contribute to antibiotic resistance. This antibacterial was once used in Colgate Total, due to its gingivitis-fighting properties. Check the ingredients on your old tubes of toothpaste to make sure you’re not exposing yourself unnecessarily.

There’s no single “perfect” toothpaste. Individual oral care needs, preferences and dentist recommendations can help determine which toothpaste is right for you. This guide will help you get started, but there’s no substitute for a checkup with your Fioritto dentist!

When you’re ready to come in for a checkup and cleaning, call Fioritto Family Dental today. We’ll help you find the right toothpaste for your brilliant smile.