Quiz: Do you know what’s in your toothpaste?
Take our quiz to find out how much you know about the toothpaste you’re using
Toothpaste ingredients 101
How much do you know about the product you’re putting in your mouth? The eight ingredients that follow are commonly listed on tubes of toothpaste. Can you guess what they are and what they’re designed to do for your teeth?
d) Fluoride does fight cavities, and it also helps rebuild tooth enamel and reduce acid erosion of your teeth. On your toothpaste label, fluoride may be listed as sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride or sodium monofluorophosphate.
a) reduces water loss from the toothpaste
b) helps the toothpaste stick to your teeth
c) keeps the ingredients mixed together
a) contributes artificial flavour
b) gives your toothpaste a smooth consistency
c) helps prevent plaque and gingivitis
c) Triclosan is an antibacterial agent that helps prevent plaque, a sticky film on your teeth that can lead to tooth decay. Triclosan also fights gingivitis, a gum irritation caused by plaque. And as a bonus, it can reduce bad breath.
b) Potassium nitrate works as a desensitizing agent by reducing the pain response of your nerve endings. It’s often used in toothpastes marketed for sensitive teeth. Strontium chloride is another toothpaste ingredient that reduces sensitivity. This substance works by blocking the tiny tubules that connect to the nerve in the tooth’s core.
a) is a flavour enhancer
b) is a mild abrasive
c) kills germs inside the mouth
b) Sodium phosphate is a mild abrasive, scrubbing food particles and surface stains from your teeth while you brush. Other abrasives you might find in your toothpaste include calcium carbonate, dehydrated silica gels, hydrated aluminum oxides, magnesium carbonate and silicates.
a) Xanthan gum is a thickening agent that’s added to the toothpaste to bind together and stabilize all the other ingredients. Mineral colloids, seaweed colloids and synthetic cellulose are all thickeners, or binders, as well.
c) Notice your toothpaste tastes pretty appealing? Of course it wouldn’t do to add sugar to an oral health product, so manufacturers use artificial sweeteners like sorbitol and saccharin. Xylitol is a natural sweetener that is also used in some toothpastes.
Sodium lauryl sulfate
a) is a foaming agent
b) helps your toothpaste dissolve in water
c) keeps your toothpaste from clumping
Sodium lauryl sulfate
a) Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a detergent that makes toothpaste turn foamy as it’s used. SLS is also in many other personal products, such as shampoo, bubble bath and shaving lotion. Cocamidopropyl betaine is another kind of foaming agent you might find in toothpaste.
How’d you score?
How many did you guess right? Your toothpaste likely contains quite a wide range of exotic-sounding ingredients. They may not all be easy to pronounce, but each one is there for a purpose.
Whether you scored high or low, what’s most important is that you’re using your toothpaste – at least twice a day. That’s the best way to win.