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?
Yes, we’re starting with an easy one. (Don’t worry – it gets tougher!) Fluoride in toothpaste has been proven to (choose one):
a) prevent and fight cavities
b) rebuild tooth enamel
c) reduce acid erosion
d) all of the above
a) reduces water loss from the toothpaste
b) helps the toothpaste stick to your teeth
c) keeps the ingredients mixed together
a) Propylene glycol keeps your toothpaste from drying out; it falls under the “humectant” category of ingredients. Other humectants that you might find in toothpaste include glycerol and sorbitol.
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.
a) is a tooth-building mineral
b) is a tooth desensitizer
c) is a tooth whitener
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.
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.