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Clinician’s Corner: Toothpaste

Every morning and every evening before going to bed, we put a dollop of this stuff called toothpaste on our toothbrush.  Here is what is in it that amazing stuff that makes our teeth so white, and our mouths so sparkling clean:

  • Mild abrasives that “scrub” the teeth.
  • Fluoride to strengthen tooth enamel.
  • Humectants are added to prevent water loss in the toothpaste.
  • Flavoring agents, such as saccharin and other sweeteners improve taste.
  • Thickeners and binders stabilize the toothpaste formula.
  • Detergents cause foaming when contacted with water and manual brushing.

The American Dental Association Seal means that:

  • The toothpaste must contain fluoride
  • Must not have any excipients (flavors, sweeteners) that can cause tooth decay
  • Must not be “too abrasive”

“RDA” for toothpaste?  We are familiar with the Recommended Daily Allowance for our vitamins, but there is an RDA for toothpaste, which refers to the Relative Dentin Abrasivity.  This is a scale the industry uses to make sure the formulations are not too abrasive to the enamel and can expose the very sensitive dentin, either by wearing down the enamel or causing gingival recession.

Pyrophosphate: Tartar control toothpastes cause more problems than good.  Tetrasodium pyrophosphate is the most common pyrophosphate, and is added to decrease tartar formation.

  • These pyrophosphates in the mouth can form an alkaline solution which can cause irritation.
  • Pyrophosphates have such a bitter taste more flavoring agents and detergents are used which can cause the teeth and gums to be more sensitive.

Chances are when any patient has a red ring around his lips or redness inside the mouth is often caused by tartar control toothpaste. Tartar control toothpastes work on the surface of the teeth to block tartar buildup, but the below the gum tartar is what causes the problems.  That is why we must go to the dentist at least every six months to get the below gum tartar removed- our brush and toothpaste doesn’t do the entire job.

Do we even need toothpaste? According to the American Dental Hygienist the most important factor in plaque removal is the mechanical action of the toothbrush!

Consult your Thompson Pharmacist for your dental needs.  Have him pick out a basic toothpaste that is “pyrophosphate free.” At Thompson Pharmacy, it’s all for YOU!