The Science Behind Toothpaste

Toothpaste is something that most of us use every day. After a while most people do not give much thought to what is in their toothpaste. As long as they feel clean and fresh, the way it works really isn’t of much concern. There are hundreds of different kinds of toothpaste on the market. Most of them have similar ingredients and work towards the same goal. We all want fewer cavities, the whitest teeth, and fresh breath. There has even been indications of ancient people cleaning their teeth with grass. Toothpaste is the first weapon used to delay tooth decay in the modern world, however. There are few key features that make it effective.

Your Teeth

To understand how toothpaste works, you need understand a little bit about teeth. The layers of your teeth are made up of different things. The outer layer is called enamel and his hard to the touch. The mineral that makes up this layer is calcium based (hydroxyapatite). The soft layer called dentine is directly under this. This is where the nerve endings are. This part is actual, living tissue. When there is sensitivity or wearing of the teeth, the dentine is affected. Nerves and blood tissue live in the pulp, which is in the very center. This is what keeps the tooth alive.

The foods you eat dissolve the enamel over time. Sugars are the things that cause the most damage. Chips can be caused by grinding the teeth while sleeping or other rough activities. The plaque in your mouth feeds off the bacteria that you provide by eating certain foods. The resulting acids and volatile Sulphur molecules work to cause cavities. Toothpaste is made to be somewhat abrasive. This allows for some friction that cleans the teeth when you brush. 


Fluoride is not found in all toothpastes. Toothpaste for young children does not use fluoride. It is often added to water sources so that all individuals in communities have access to it. Fluoride is a naturally occurring substance. It can be found in some fish, vegetables, and tea. Fluoride is the main factor in promoting cavity prevention. It works to keep the tooth from decaying. The fluoride initiates a chemical reaction with the tooth enamel. This reaction results in the enamel bringing in minerals, such as calcium, to replace missing ones. Teeth that suffer from acid damage can be made more resistant to damage with the use of fluoride. Abrasives, humectants, preservatives, flavoring, and detergents make up the rest of your toothpaste.

Tooth decay can be a catalyst for many other health issues. Bacteria can eventually cause serious infection if not treated properly while causing tooth issues. Serious infections can cause an abscess that works its way into the surrounding bone. Bacteria can also travel throughout the body causing secondary complications. The health of your teeth starts with a good toothpaste. This gives you control at home over a large portion of your dental health.

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