Part I: Toothpaste Ingredients, Yay or Nay

Have you ever had a look at the ingredients list of your toothpaste? We usually check the ingredients of food in our grocery list, but we are forgetting to check one important item – our toothpaste.

Toothpaste is a paste used with a toothbrush to clean our teeth and tongue. Primarily, it is used to maintain good oral hygiene by removing plaque, preventing halitosis or bad breath, and delivers Fluoride which prevents tooth decay.

However, not all toothpastes are made with the same ingredients. Here’s a run-through of what you can find in your toothpaste and what it does.


Toothpaste’s abrasiveness is measured by its Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA). Toothpastes uses abrasives like Hydrated Silica, Dicalcium Phosphate Dihydrate, Calcium Carbonate, and Aluminum Hydroxide. Abrasives give toothpaste its cleaning power. Toothpastes with RDA rating of 0-70 are highly recommended because those are usually low abrasive. Most toothpastes have one abrasive ingredient. Any toothpaste that contains two or more abrasive components should be avoided.

Few Arm & Hammer toothpaste variants have 48-70 RDA rating, while Colgate, Crest, and Sensodyne variants are found after 70.


Fluoride is the most popular active ingredient of toothpastes. Forms of fluoride like Sodium Fluoride, Stannous Fluoride, and Sodium Monofluorophosphate are found in every toothpaste. Sodium Fluoride, the most commonly added type of fluoride, can readily be used during brushing of teeth while Sodium Monofluorophosphate needs saliva or more moisture to be activated. People with dry mouth (i.e. someone under chemotherapy or taking certain medications that can cause dry mouth) are not recommended to use Sodium MFP-based toothpastes.


Surfactant, also known as detergent, is the foaming agent of toothpastes. Just like soap and shampoo, it is the reason why the product lathers or foams. Surfactant like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) gives a more cleaning effect to some people.

At present, SLS is one of the most controversial ingredient found in several beauty products. SLS was said to affect the endocrine system of the body and produces mouth ulcers. There’s insufficient research studies to prove the toxicity of SLS in the form of toothpastes, but a lot of people are switching to SLS-free toothpastes which some variants of Colgate, Sensodyne, and Tom’s of Maines have.

Fluoride, abrasives, and surfactant are just a few of the main ingredients found in toothpastes. These three primarily work together in removing plaque and food lodged in the teeth. Aside from these three, there are a few more ingredients you need to be familiarized with. Stay tuned for Part II!

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