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Toothpaste – Types, Usage, Complications

Excerpt: There's a lot to talk about when it comes to toothpaste, what kind, how much, how often
Table of Contents

What Is Toothpaste?

Toothpaste is a paste or gel that is formulated specifically to clean, whiten, decrease sensitivity and/or add fluoride.

Toothpaste Facts

  • Egyptians were the first recorded civilizations to have used toothpaste.
  • Toothpaste use goes as far back as 5,000 years.

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to toothpaste, what kind, how much, how often… does any of it really matter? Yes, it does, let’s talk about toothpaste!

Ingredients in toothpaste

Toothpaste can contain a lot of different ingredients, there are 5 common key ingredients:
  • Fluoride
  • Abrasives
  • Flavors
  • Humectants
  • Detergents


Quite possibly the most well-known toothpaste ingredient. Fluoride is incredibly useful for fortifying teeth. While fluoride is incredibly useful for increasing the strength of the enamel, you can ingest too much of it. You should never swallow your toothpaste if you can help it (it’s ok to swallow a little), and only use fluoride toothpaste if it is recommended by a dentist, or your teeth are showing signs of decay.


Abrasives do not play an “active” role, since they don’t contribute anything to your teeth, but they do help remove the excess food debris, and can even whiten your teeth.


These are added only to promote the usage of toothpaste, as the other ingredients would taste unpleasant without flavoring. The flavoring is not done with sugar, it is done with artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol.


The main purpose of humectants is to stop your toothpaste from drying out. Some examples include glycol and glycerol.


Detergents cause the toothpaste to foam, the foam ensures the coverage of a greater surface are.
Toothpaste - Types, Usage, Complications - 1 - Smiles Dental Group

How Much Toothpaste To Use?

If you’re using standard toothpaste, you don’t need much toothpaste, if you are brushing a child’s teeth, you should use toothpaste formulated for children.

  • Everyone older than 3 (including adults) – Use a pea-sized amount
  • Children under 3 – Use a rice-sized amount or about half of the pea-sized amount.
The toothpaste formulated for children will typically have less or no fluoride in it, in case the child swallows it, they also don’t need nearly as much fluoride as older users.
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What Kind Of Toothpaste Should I Use?

Just brushing your teeth with the standard toothpaste, and a traditional toothbrush will be enough to have a good standard of oral care, however, there are quite a few different formulas for toothpaste. If you’re interested in learning about them, here is what they do.

Whitening Toothpaste

This toothpaste is formulated to whiten teeth with surface stains on them. Surface stains are often a result of lifestyle choices, i.e. food, drink, alcohol, tobacco use, etc. Depending on what caused the stain, you may be able to make it a few shades whiter or get rid of it completely. However, whitening toothpaste is not nearly as effective as a professional whitening treatment. 

Fluoride Toothpaste

Fluoride toothpaste has extra fluoride in it for those that are deficient. Too much fluoride is also a bad thing since you can be diagnosed with fluorosis. Fluorosis can affect the visual appearance of your teeth in a number of ways and may even promote tooth decay. You should consult a dentist to see if you need more fluoride. You may also want to check your city’s policy on adding fluoride to the drinking water (which has been proven both safe and effective in small amounts).

Sensitive Toothpaste

Sensitive toothpaste is meant for patients who have sensitive teeth. The sensitivity is caused by abrupt changes in temperature. Sometimes teeth may just be more sensitive without any explanation, other times there may be an underlying condition. If you rarely have sensitive teeth but they suddenly become sensitive, you could consider booking a dentist appointment. If the teeth are causing pain through the sensitivity then it may be a sign of something more serious like tooth decay.

Children’s  & fluoride-Free Toothpaste

Children’s toothpaste should be used for children under 3, this toothpaste has less or no fluoride in it. Fluoride can be overconsumed by infants because they need only about half as much as adults. Fluoride can also cause health issues if swallowed consistently over a long period of time. However, as an adult, it is generally considered best practice to avoid fluoride-free dental products since it is an incredibly useful component of dental health.
Toothpaste & glass

Which Toothpaste Should I Buy?

Here are a few toothpaste brands you can look into if you’re shopping around:

  • Good Overall – Colgate Cavity Protection Toothpaste
  • Best Budget – Crest Pro-Health Pro
  • Whitening Toothpaste – Arm & Hammer Extreme Whitening Toothpaste
  • Gum Disease – Parodontax Toothpaste
  • Sensitive Teeth – Sensodyne Fresh Impact Sensitivity Toothpaste
  • Bad Breath – TheraBreath Fresh Breath Toothpaste
  • Dry Mouth – Biotene Fluoride Toothpaste

This list is merely a good place to look at recommendations for specific types of toothpaste. If you get good results with a product that isn’t listed, you can use that brand as well.

What Ingredients Should You Look Out For?

Here are a few things you can look for on the ingredient label.
  • Fluoride – You will want to know if it’s present, and how much it has. The American Dental Association recommends fluoride at RDA 250 or less.
  • Sweetener – Toothpaste will often contain sugar-free sweeteners for taste, if your toothpaste has sugar in it, you will want to switch brands.
  • Whitening Agents – Does it contain a whitening agent like hydrogen peroxide? If so, you may not want to use it as your main toothpaste. If your teeth don’t appear whiter after using the toothpaste over time then it will be best to use a standard toothpaste.

Is It Bad To Use Expired Toothpaste?

Most people don’t know the difference between toothpaste that has been manufactured before or after a certain date. Toothpaste is not expected to last forever, so expiration dates are put on products in order for the manufacturer to make sure their product gets used up. 

Toothpaste expires anywhere from one month up to two years after being produced, but it is best to use toothpaste within six months of when it was manufactured. If your toothpaste is expired it may be harder to use effectively because it will harden over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, you can just use standard toothpaste if you have no special requirements.

No, you can just use standard toothpaste if you have no special requirements.

No, human formulated toothpaste should never be given to any kind of pet.

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