Toothpaste is a paste or gel dentifrice used with a toothbrush as a medium to clean and maintain the health of teeth. It serves as an abrasive that aids in removing the dental plaque and food from the teeth, reduces halitosis, and delivers active ingredients mainly fluoride to help prevent tooth caries and gum disease. Most of the teeth cleaning is achieved by the mechanical action of the toothbrush, and not by the toothpaste. Salt and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) are among materials that can be substituted for commercial toothpaste.
Content of toothpaste
In addition to 20-40% water, toothpastes are derived from a variety of components, including three main ones: abrasives, fluoride, and detergents.
Abrasives constitute at least 50% of a typical toothpaste.
They helps in removing plaque and tartar.
The removal of plaque and calculus helps minimize cavities and gum diseases.
Commonly used abrasives are aluminum hydroxide, calcium carbonate, various calcium hydrogen phosphates, various silicas and zeolites, and hydroxyapatite.
Fluoride is the most popular active ingredient in toothpaste to prevent cavities.
Sodium fluoride is the most common source of fluoride, but stannous fluoride, olaflur (an organic salt of fluoride), and sodium monofluorophosphate are also used. Stannous fluoride has been shown to be more effective than sodium fluoride in reducing the incidence of dental caries and controlling gum diseases.
Toothpastes contain sodium lauryl sulfate which enables uniform distribution of toothpaste, improving its cleansing power.
Triclosan, an antibacterial agent, is also a common toothpaste ingredient.
Toothpaste comes in a variety of colors, and flavors intended to encourage use of the product. Three most common flavorants are peppermint, spearmint, and wintergreen. Toothpaste flavored with peppermint-anise oil is popular in the Mediterranean region.
More exotic flavors include anise, apricot, bubblegum, cinnamon, fennel, lavender, neem, ginger, vanilla, lemon, orange, and pine.
Strontium chloride or potassium nitrate is included in some toothpastes to reduce sensitivity.
Sodium polyphosphate is added to minimize the formation of tartar.
Other types of toothpaste:
Some of the toothpastes contain peroxide, the same ingredient found in tooth bleaching gels. The abrasive in these toothpaste remove the stains, not the peroxide. Whitening toothpaste cannot alter the natural color of teeth or reverse discoloration by penetrating surface stains or decay. To remove surface stains, whitening toothpaste may include abrasives to gently polish the teeth, and/or additives such as sodium tripolyphosphate to break down or dissolve stains. When used twice a day, whitening toothpaste typically takes two to four weeks to make teeth appear more white. Whitening toothpaste is generally safe for daily use, but excessive use might damage tooth enamel.
Herbal and "natural" toothpaste:
The ingredients found in natural toothpastes vary widely but often include baking soda, aloe, eucalyptus oil, myrrh, plant extract (strawberry extract), and essential oils.
History of toothpaste
The Greeks, and then the Romans, improved the recipes for toothpaste by adding abrasives such as crushed bones and oyster shells. In the 9th century, the Persian musician and fashion designer Ziryab invented a type of toothpaste, which he popularized throughout Islamic Spain. Toothpastes or powders came into general use in the 19th century. Tooth powders for use with toothbrushes came into general use in the 19th century in Britain. Most were homemade, with chalk, pulverized brick, or salt as ingredients. Arm & Hammer marketed a baking soda-based toothpowder in the United States until approximately 2000, and Colgate currently markets toothpowder in India and other countries. Fluoride was first added to toothpastes in the 1890s. "Tanagra", containing calcium fluoride as the active ingredient, was sold by Karl F. Toellner Company, of Bremen, Germany. Striped toothpaste was invented by a New Yorker named Leonard Lawrence Marraffino in 1955.