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Things You Didn’t Know About Toothpaste

Did you know that toothpaste has been around for over 2,000 years? It’s true! And in that time, it has evolved from a simple mixture of ashes and water to the complex product we know today. But there are still many things about toothpaste that most people don’t know. In this blog post, we will define toothpaste and list its various components. We will also discuss relative dentin abrasivity (RDA) and what it means when choosing a toothpaste. Finally, we’ll list some random facts about toothpaste that you probably didn’t know!

Most people don’t think about toothpaste very often. We just squeeze it out of the tube, brush our teeth, and spit it out. But did you know that In this blog post, we will define toothpaste and list its various components.

What is toothpaste made of?

Toothpaste is a complex mixture of many different ingredients that work together to clean your teeth, fight cavities, and freshen your breath. This thick, creamy paste typically contains abrasives, humectants, flavoring agents, thickening agents, detergent, and water. However, some toothpastes contain additional ingredients such as fluoride, whiteners, desensitizers, and tartar protection agents. Let’s take a closer look at each of these ingredients and why they are necessary:


Abrasives are the gritty particles that help remove plaque and stains from teeth. The most common abrasive in toothpaste is calcium carbonate, which is also known as limestone. Other abrasives include hydrated aluminum oxides, dehydrated silica gels, magnesium carbonate, phosphate salts, and silicates. 


Humectants are added to toothpaste to keep it from drying out. They are also used to provide moisture to the mouth. The most common humectant is glycerin, which is a clear, thick liquid that absorbs water. Other humectants include sorbitol and propylene glycol.

Flavoring Agents

Flavoring agents are added to toothpaste to give it a pleasant taste. The most common flavoring agents are mint oils, such as peppermint oil and spearmint oil. Other flavoring agents include menthol, camphor, and eucalyptol. Sugar is never used in toothpaste, however artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin, may be used.

Thickening Agents

Thickening agents are added to toothpaste to give it a thick, creamy consistency. Simply stated, this is what makes toothpaste a paste. The most common thickening agent is xanthan gum, which is a white powder that is derived from corn. Other thickening agents include cellulose gum, mineral colloids, natural gums, seaweed colloids, or synthetic cellulose. 


Detergents are added to toothpaste to create a foaming action that helps remove plaque and stains from teeth. The most common detergent in toothpaste is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which is a white powder that is derived from coconut oil. Another commonly used detergent in toothpaste is N-lauroyl sarcosinate (INCI).


Water is the main ingredient in toothpaste and helps to dissolve all of the other ingredients. In fact, about 20-42% of toothpaste is composed of water.


Fluoride is added to toothpaste to help prevent cavities. Fluoride works by strengthening the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay. Since not all toothpastes contain fluoride, it is important to choose a toothpaste that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance.


Whiteners are added to toothpaste to help remove stains from teeth. The most common whitener is sodium hexametaphosphate, which is a white powder that is derived from phosphate rock. Other whiteners include hydrogen or carbamide peroxide.


Desensitizers are added to toothpaste to help reduce sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweet foods. The most common desensitizer is potassium nitrate, which is a white powder that is derived from saltpeter. Other desensitizers include strontium chloride.

Tartar Protection Agents

Tartar protection agents are added to toothpaste to help prevent the formation of tartar (a hard, yellow deposit that forms on teeth). The most common tartar protection agent is zinc citrate, which is a white powder that is derived from zinc.

Relative Dentin Abrasivity

Now that we’ve defined toothpaste and listed its various components, let’s take a closer look at relative dentin abrasivity (RDA). RDA is a measure of the abrasiveness of toothpaste. The higher the RDA, the more abrasive the toothpaste. Toothpastes with an RDA of 100 or less are considered safe for use on teeth. The vast majority of toothpastes on the market have an RDA of 100 or less. It is also important to note that the American Dental Association does not recommend using toothpaste with an RDA value over 150.

Assorted Random Toothpaste Facts

  • Toothpaste was first invented by the Egyptians in around 5000 BC. It was a tooth powder made of ox hooves, myrrh, eggshells, and pumice that were all burned into ash.
  • The first toothpaste that was commercially available was made in jars by Colgate in 1873.
  • In 1892, Dr. Washington Sheffield invented the toothpaste tube.
  • In the 1890s, fluoride was first added to toothpaste. However, it did not become popular until the mid 1950s.
  • Toothpaste should not be ingested because it can cause stomach upset.
  • Some toothpastes contain activated charcoal, which is a natural teeth whitener.
  • Some toothpastes contain baking soda, which is a natural teeth whitener.
  • Some toothpastes contain hydrogen peroxide, which is a natural teeth whitener.
  • Toothpaste expires after two years.
  • The average person uses about six tubes of toothpaste per year.
  • Toothpaste is the third most popular item in hotel rooms, after soap and shampoo.
  • The average person spends about three years of their life brushing their teeth.

In Conclusion

In this blog post, we’ve looked at some things that most people don’t know about toothpaste. We’ve defined toothpaste by listing its various components and taken a closer look at relative dentin abrasivity (RDA), as well as what it means when choosing a toothpaste. Finally, we’ve listed some assorted random facts about toothpaste and its history. Thanks for reading!



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