Toothpaste is a paste or gel dentifrice utilized with a toothbrush to clean and preserve the aesthetics and health of teeth. Toothpaste is used to improve oral hygiene.

Furthermore, toothpaste contains abrasive and fluoride that aid in diminishing dental plaque and food debris from the teeth assist in quelling halitosis and deliver active components (fluoride) to help curb tooth decay (dental caries) and gum disease (gingivitis) respectively. 

However, owing to differences in composition and fluoride content, not all toothpaste are equally beneficial in sustaining oral health. The plunge of tooth decay during the 20th century has been attributed to the introduction and regular use of fluoride-containing toothpaste worldwide. 

Nevertheless, large amounts of swallowed toothpaste can be toxic. Common colours for toothpaste include white (sometimes with coloured stripes or green tint) and blue.

Importance of toothpaste

Toothpaste is generally useful to maintain dental health and fresh breath. The importance of using toothpaste is as follows;

  • Prevention of tooth decay
  • Reduction of plaque build-up
  • Removal of food debris
  • Elimination of bad breath
  • Removal of stains
  • Treatment of sensitivity
  • Treatment of gum disease
  • Reduction of tartar build-up


Toothpaste is derived from a variety of components, the main ones are;

  • Fluoride; fluoride is added to toothpaste in various forms and is the most popular and effective active ingredient in toothpaste to prevent cavities. Fluoride is present in small amounts in plants, animals, and some natural water sources. The additional fluoride in toothpaste has beneficial effects on the formation of dental enamel and bones. Sodium fluoride is the most common source of fluoride, but stannous fluoride and sodium monofluorophosphate are also used. At similar fluoride concentrations, toothpaste containing stannous fluoride is more effective than toothpaste containing sodium fluoride in reducing the incidence of dental caries.
  • Abrasive; these are carbonate and silicates, which help remove food debris, bacteria, and some stains from the teeth.
  • Flavouring; Artificial sweeteners, including saccharin, are often added to toothpaste to make them taste better. While many people equate the flavour of toothpaste with mint, toothpaste is available in a variety of flavours, including cinnamon, lemon-lime, and even bubblegum (for kids)
  • Humectants for moisture retention. Paste and gel formulations often contain substances like glycerol to prevent toothpaste from drying out.
  • Thickeners. Agents that add thickness to the toothpaste, including gums and gooey molecules found in some seaweeds, help achieve and maintain proper toothpaste texture.
  • Surfactants. Those suds you see when you brush your teeth are from detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate.

Types of toothpaste

There are toothpaste for managing various oral symptoms. They include,

  • Fluoride toothpaste for tooth decay
  • Tartar control toothpaste
  • Toothpaste for sensitive teeth
  • Tooth whitening toothpaste
  • Gum care toothpaste

Recommended toothpaste

No matter what your concerns are about toothpaste, fluoride should be a key ingredient in it. Though there are a lot of products in the market, which comes in various flavours and colours any toothpaste without fluoride is not good enough for routine use.

Nonetheless, it is important to note that there are toothpaste prescribed by the dentist that main not contain fluoride. These fluoride-free toothpaste are for treating specific symptoms, not for routine use and are to be used according to prescription.

Right use of toothpaste

The invention of toothpaste has drastically reduced the incidence of tooth decay. Moreover, the appropriate use of toothpaste is vital in getting all the benefits it has to offer. The following precaution should be followed;

  • Apply the paste over the brush.
  • Embed the paste in the bristles of the brush by tapping the brush head lightly.
  • The paste on the brush should not be dipped into water before brushing.
  • Brush all tooth surfaces with the paste.
  • Rinse only once or twice after brushing.
  • Children should only use peanut size toothpaste on their brushes with adult supervision.
  • Toothpaste is toxic to the body if consumed in large quantities.

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