What is in Toothpaste?

We have all heard of the active ingredient in toothpaste: fluoride. It supplies tooth enamel with important minerals to keep it strong and it protects against tooth decay. It is also the one ingredient toothpaste must contain to earn the American Dental Association's Seal of Acceptance. But what else is in toothpaste?

1. Mild abrasive ingredients help scrub the surfaces of our teeth clean as we brush (and it does not take more than a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle brushing to get the job done).

2. Foaming detergents help the toothpaste reach every tooth. (Fun fact: the foam is why actors rarely use toothpaste when they brush their teeth on screen. It's too messy for TV!)

3. Humectants keep toothpaste from drying out, so that it can come out of the tube in a smooth piece.

4. Flavoring and sweeteners make toothpaste taste good, but they can't include actual sugar and still get the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Toothpaste for adults is usually a strong, minty flavor. Mint flavor can be overpowering for kids, which is why children's toothpaste often tastes like fruit or candy.

5. A lot of toothpaste contains bleaching agents, but anyone with braces should avoid those until Braces Off Day. Using whitening toothpaste could result in a slight difference between the color of the spot where the bracket was and the rest of the tooth, so save that for after the orthodontic treatment ends!

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