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Toothpaste Ingredients

May 25th, 2012

Everyone has their favorite toothpaste, usually based on flavor and what they used while growing up.  However, today we are faced with an ever increasing choice of toothpastes with varying ingredients promising differing benefits and claiming superior results over their competitors.  So what do we choose?
Most toothpastes are basically composed of inactive ingredients for taste, color and sweetness along with some detergent agent to help clean.  They also contain substances to control the thickness, keep them from drying out, preservatives and binders.  Along with these are various ingredients to provide some clinical benefit.
The most common active ingredient is fluoride.  This element, usually in a compound with tin (stannous fluoride), phosphorous (mono-fluor-phosphate or  MFP) or sodium (sodium fluoride), will help strengthen enamel that has been weakened by acids from plaque and diet, thereby reducing the cavity rate.  There are prescription toothpastes that have 5 times the fluoride level of the over the counter ones and are of benefit to those with an increased risk of tooth decay.
Some toothpastes contain substances to decrease tooth sensitivity to temperature changes and sweets.  These may contain potassium nitrate which will block nerve pulses or stannous fluoride which can block the dentin tubules to insulate the tooth.  Continued use will often reduce or relieve symptoms altogether.
Newer products contain high levels of calcium and phosphorus which are carried by a protein that keeps them in contact with the tooth surface for hours.  This will rebuild the structure of damaged enamel and can decrease sensitivity, reduce the appearance of white spots, and also diminish or reverse decay damage.
Ask the staff at your dental practice what products they have had experience with and what they might recommend for you.  They will tailor a program to meet your needs.

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