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Oral Care Product : Toothpaste

There are several types of toothpastes available in the market. Toothpaste is created for oral health needs for different individuals of different age groups, different toothpaste flavours and for cosmetic reasons. Choosing the right toothpaste together with correct tooth brushing technique helps you to gain good oral health.

Types of Toothpaste

The main types of toothpastes are as follow:

  • Fluoridated toothpaste
  • Sensitive toothpaste
  • Whitening toothpaste

Please ensure that you read the toothpaste label to understand the content, types, flavour and size of toothpaste recommended (for example : pea sized toothpaste for children; Diagram 1).


Diagram 1: Amount of pea sized toothpaste is recommended for children

Toothpaste Content

Some of the main ingredients of toothpaste are as follow:

Fluoride
According to Marinho and Sheiham(2004), since a half century ago, various research on effectiveness of fluoride have been demonstrated by scientists. Fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay (dental caries) and inhibits progression of early caries lesion.

It helps in controlling the acidity level (produced by the bacteria) in the mouth to a lower degree, hence preventing tooth decay. Several types of fluoride include monofluorophosphate, stannous fluoride or sodium fluoride depending on the toothpaste brand will be absorbed in the tooth enamel layer (the outermost layer of tooth) thus causing enamel to be more resistant to the acid (produced by the bacteria) that causes tooth decay

Sodium bicarbonate (baking powder)

Baking powder is another natural material that helps to remove tooth stains, formation of dental plaque and preventing mouth odour.

Sodium lauryl sulphate

Helps to remove dirt and dental plaque from tooth surface.

Hydogen peroxide

Helps to clean and kill bacteria, besides whitening teeth and prevent mouth odour.

Hydrated Silica

Hydrated silica with other compounds helps to form the toothpaste texture. Besides toothpaste flavour and toothpaste agents ( that determines the texture), preservative may exist but sometimes are not used. Generally,these materials are frequently used by the toothpaste manufacturer but the amount varies between one brand and another.

Others

Abrasive materials such as silica, alumina, calcium phosphate or calcium carbonate are used to produce slightly rough textured toothpaste that can remove stains on tooth surface. Use of toothpaste with highly abrasive materials may cause tooth wear i.e. enamel layer may become thinner, exposing the dentine layer and tooth appear to be yellowish (dentin layer is more yellowish than enamel). This eventually results in tooth sensitivity when taking hot or cold drink/food.

Sensitive Toothpaste

  • Sensitive toothpaste is used by individuals with sensitive teeth especially near the gum area with sensitive sensation to hot or cold drink/food.
  • Sensitive toothpaste helps to relieve sensitive sensation thus easing brushing.
  • However, sensitive teeth are caused by several factors. Seek advice from your nearest dentist to identify the root cause of tooth sensitivity rather than resort to immediate use of sensitive toothpaste. This is to exclude any underlying serious dental problem.

Whitening Toothpaste

  • Whitening toothpaste helps to remove stains, thus teeth may appear whiter. It comprises of abrasive materials to remove stain on tooth surfaces. Some of the abrasive materials are baking powder, peroxide and sodium tripoliphosphate which help to dissolve the stains.
  • However, whitening toothpaste differs from professional tooth whitening treatment in dental clinic. Whitening toothpaste may help to remove some stains on the tooth surface. Professional teeth whitening treatment uses higher level of hydrogen peroxide that need to be applied for a longer duration of time to achieve the desired tooth shade.This treatment is normally followed by the use of whitening toothpaste to prevent formation of any new stains.

Children Toothpaste

Carefully choose the toothpaste for children as follows:

  • Have a look at the toothpaste label in terms of usage, warning, instructions to use etc. Sodium lauryl sulphate should not be in the children toothpaste as it may cause mouth ulcer.
  • Choose fluoridated toothpaste (and supervise the use of toothpaste) with the halal logo (for Muslims).
  • Use toothpaste which is suitable to the child’s age.
  • Choose the flavour that the your child prefers or is comfortable with – to motivate/encourage tooth brushing.
  • Make comparisons with toothpaste brands available in the market.
  • If you are not sure, consult your nearest dentist for advice.

Quantity of Toothpaste Use

For children 6 years old and below – use only a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste (approximately pea size).

Parents / guardians must supervise the children (up to the age of 6 to 8 years) in terms of amount of toothpaste used, assist the tooth brushing, ensure the children spit out the excess toothpaste and don’t allow them to swallow it.

Tips on tooth brushing using toothpaste:

  • Supervision by parents / guardians.
  • Use the correct type and quantity of toothpaste.
  • Do not swallow but spit the excess toothpaste.
  • Apply appropriate brushing technique and choose suitable tooth brush.
  • Look at the mirror while brushing teeth.

References:

Last Reviewed : 25 April 2014
Writer : Dr. Mustaffa b. Jaafar
Accreditor : Dr. Faizah bt. Kamaruddin
Reviewer : Dr. Sharol Lail b. Sujak