The most common toothpaste ingredients include fluoride, baking soda, sodium laurel sulfate, hydrogen peroxide, hydrated silica, and additional thickeners and preservatives. Each ingredient serves a basic purpose and they all work together to provide optimum oral health. Many of these ingredients are found in virtually all toothpastes, while others, such as baking soda, are found in many options are not included as a basic ingredient in all formulas.
Perhaps one of the most common and most controversial toothpaste ingredients is fluoride. Studies have proven that the use of fluoride helps prevent tooth decay and cavities, and is essential in combating early signs of damage. It works by keeping the acid levels in the mouth down so that tooth enamel stays in tact. The acid is generally produced by bacteria during their metabolic processes.
Despite this information, there are some reports that fluoride is more harmful than useful. Some claim that fluoride can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, thyroid gland, and brain. These claims have not been fully proven.
Baking soda is also one of the most common toothpaste ingredients. It is used as a surfactant to help scrub away stains and plaque buildup. There have been no studies to confirm that baking soda helps prevent gum disease or tooth decay, but some people like the flavor and feel of baking soda toothpastes and are thus more likely to brush after every meal. The use of baking soda may also help prevent bad breath due to its odor reducing powers.
Another of the most common toothpaste ingredients is sodium laurel sulfate. This ingredient is primarily used as a surfactant, thanks to its ability to remove grime and buildup from nearly any surface. Some have claimed that it is carcinogenic, but no studies have shown this to be the case.
Hydrogen peroxide is one of the most powerful toothpaste ingredients, as it is able to kill bacteria as well as whiten teeth. Bottled peroxide is commonly used a mouthwash, as it is high effective as killing bad breath and decay causing germs. Added to toothpaste, it works with other ingredients to not only destroy bacteria but also to whiten teeth and refresh the breath.
Hydrated silica is also used in toothpaste along with other ingredients which give the paste its texture. Preservatives may be added, as well as thickening agents and flavoring. Various brands may use slightly different ingredients for these purposes, but they are common among most varieties and manufacturers.