Toothpaste is a paste or gel dentifrice used with a toothbrush as an
accessory to clean and maintain the aesthetics and health of teeth.
Toothpaste is used to promote oral hygiene: it serves as an abrasive
that aids in removing dental plaque and food from the teeth, assists
in suppressing halitosis, and delivers active ingredients (most
commonly fluoride) to help prevent tooth decay (dental caries) and gum
disease (gingivitis). Salt and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) are
among materials that can be substituted for commercial toothpaste.
Toothpaste is not intended to be swallowed due to the fluoride
content, but is generally not very harmful if accidentally swallowed
in small amounts; however, one should seek medical attention after
swallowing abnormally large amounts.
1.4 Other components
1.4.1 Antibacterial agents
Hydroxyapatite nanocrystals and a variety of calcium phosphates
are included in formulations for remineralization, i.e. the
reformation of enamel.
1.5.1 Miscellaneous components
2.2 Diethylene glycol
2.4 Miscellaneous issues and debates
2.4.1 Alteration of taste perception
2.5 Whitening toothpastes
2.6 Herbal and natural toothpastes
3 Striped toothpaste
4.1 Early toothpastes
4.2 Tooth powder
4.3 Modern toothpaste
5 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
In addition to 20–42% water, toothpastes are derived from a variety
of components, the three main ones being abrasives, fluoride, and
Abrasives constitute at least 50% of a typical toothpaste. These
insoluble particles help remove plaque from the teeth. The removal of
plaque and calculus helps minimize cavities and periodontal
disease. Representative abrasives include particles
of aluminum hydroxide (Al(OH)3), calcium carbonate (CaCO3), various
calcium hydrogen phosphates, various silicas and zeolites, and
Abrasives, like the dental polishing agents used in dentists' offices,
also cause a small amount of enamel erosion which is termed
"polishing" action. Some brands contain powdered white mica, which
acts as a mild abrasive, and also adds a cosmetically pleasing
glittery shimmer to the paste. The polishing of teeth removes stains
from tooth surfaces, but has not been shown to improve dental health
over and above the effects of the removal of plaque and calculus.
The abrasive effect of toothpaste is indicated by its RDA value. Too
high RDA values are deleterious. Some dentists recommend toothpaste
with an RDA value no higher than 50 for daily use.
Fluoride in various forms is the most popular active ingredient in
toothpaste to prevent cavities.
Fluoride occurs in small amounts in
plants, animals, and some natural water sources. The additional
fluoride in toothpaste has beneficial effects on the formation of
dental enamel and bones.
Sodium fluoride (NaF) is the most common
source of fluoride, but stannous fluoride (SnF2), olaflur (an organic
salt of fluoride), and sodium monofluorophosphate (Na2PO3F) are also
Stannous fluoride has been shown to be more effective than
sodium fluoride in reducing the incidence of dental caries and
controlling gingivitis, but causes somewhat more surface stains.
Much of the toothpaste sold in the United States has 1,000 to 1,100
parts per million fluoride. In European countries, such as the UK or
Greece, the fluoride content is often higher; a NaF content of 0.312%
w/w (1,450 ppm fluoride) is common. All of these concentrations are
likely to prevent tooth decay, according to a 2010 Cochrane review.
Concentrations below 1,000 ppm are not likely to be preventive, and
the preventive effect increases with concentration. These effects must
be balanced with the increased risk of harm at higher
Many, although not all, toothpastes contain sodium lauryl sulfate
(SLS) or related surfactants (detergents). SLS is found in many other
personal care products as well, such as shampoo, and is mainly a
foaming agent, which enables uniform distribution of toothpaste,
improving its cleansing power.
Despite the different ingredients included in the toothpaste, recent
study (meta analysis) indicates that brushing with or without
toothpaste has no impact on the level of plaque removal.
Triclosan, an antibacterial agent, is a common toothpaste ingredient
in the United Kingdom.
Triclosan or zinc chloride prevent gingivitis
and, according to the American Dental Association, helps reduce tartar
and bad breath. A 2006 review of clinical research concluded
there was evidence for the effectiveness of 0.30% triclosan in
reducing plaque and gingivitis.
Toothpaste comes in a variety of colors and flavors, intended to
encourage use of the product. The three most common flavorants are
peppermint, spearmint, and wintergreen.
Toothpaste flavored with
peppermint-anise oil is popular in the Mediterranean region. These
flavors are provided by the respective oils, e.g. peppermint oil.
More exotic flavors include Anethole anise, apricot, bubblegum,
cinnamon, fennel, lavender, neem, ginger, vanilla, lemon, orange, and
pine. Alternatively, unflavored toothpastes exist.
Hydroxyapatite nanocrystals and a variety of calcium phosphates are
included in formulations for remineralization, i.e. the
reformation of enamel.
Toothpaste is sold in many brands.
Agents are added to suppress the tendency of toothpaste to dry into a
powder. Included are various sugar alcohols, such as glycerol,
sorbitol, or xylitol, or related derivatives, such as 1,2-propylene
glycol and polyethyleneglycol.
Strontium chloride or potassium
nitrate is included in some toothpastes to reduce sensitivity. Sodium
polyphosphate is added to minimize the formation of tartar.[citation
Some studies have demonstrated that toothpastes with xylitol as an
ingredient are more effective at preventing dental caries in permanent
of children teeth than toothpastes containing fluoride alone.
Furthermore xylitol has not been found to cause any harmful effects.
Further investigation into the efficacy of toothpastes containing this
product is however required as the currently available studies are of
low quality and therefore the results of such studies must be applied
Icelandic postage stamp encouraging use of fluoridated toothpaste.
Although water fluoridation has been praised as one of the top medical
achievements of the 20th century, fluoride-containing toothpaste
can be acutely toxic if swallowed in large amounts.
Approximately 15 mg/kg body weight is the acute lethal dose, even
though as small amount as 5 mg/kg may be fatal to some
The risk of using fluoride is low enough that the use of full-strength
toothpaste (1350–1500 ppm fluoride) is advised for all ages.
However, smaller volumes are used for young children, for example a
smear of toothpaste until three years old. A major concern of
dental fluorosis is for children under 12 months ingesting excessive
fluoride through toothpaste.
Nausea and vomiting are also problems
which might arise with topical fluoride ingestion.
The inclusion of sweet-tasting but toxic diethylene glycol in
Chinese-made toothpaste led to a recall in 2007 involving multiple
toothpaste brands in several nations. The world outcry made
Chinese officials ban the practice of using diethylene glycol in
Reports have suggested triclosan, an active ingredient in many kinds
of toothpastes, can combine with chlorine in tap water to form
chloroform, which the United States Environmental Protection
Agency classifies as a probable human carcinogen. An animal study
revealed the chemical might modify hormone regulation, and many other
lab researches proved bacteria might be able to develop resistance to
triclosan in a way which can help them to resist antibiotics also.
Miscellaneous issues and debates
With the exception of toothpaste intended to be used on pets such as
dogs and cats, and toothpaste used by astronauts, most toothpaste is
not intended to be swallowed, and doing so may cause nausea or
diarrhea. Tartar fighting toothpastes have been debated. Case
reports of plasma cell gingivitis have been reported with the use of
herbal toothpaste containing cinnamon. SLS has been proposed to
increase the frequency of mouth ulcers in some people, as it can dry
out the protective layer of oral tissues, causing the underlying
tissues to become damaged.
Alteration of taste perception
After using toothpaste, orange juice and other juices have an
Sodium lauryl sulfate
Sodium lauryl sulfate alters taste perception. It
can break down phospholipids that inhibit taste receptors for
sweetness, giving food a bitter taste. In contrast, apples are known
to taste more pleasant after using toothpaste. Distinguishing
between the hypotheses that the bitter taste of orange juice results
from stannous fluoride or from sodium lauryl sulfate is still an
unresolved issue and it is thought that the menthol added for flavor
may also take part in the alteration of taste perception when binding
to lingual cold receptors.
Many toothpastes make whitening claims. Some of these toothpastes
contain peroxide, the same ingredient found in tooth bleaching gels.
The abrasive in these toothpastes, not the peroxide, removes the
stains. Whitening toothpaste cannot alter the natural color of
teeth or reverse discoloration by penetrating surface stains or decay.
To remove surface stains, whitening toothpaste may include abrasives
to gently polish the teeth or additives such as sodium
tripolyphosphate to break down or dissolve stains. When used twice a
day, whitening toothpaste typically takes two to four weeks to make
teeth appear whiter. Whitening toothpaste is generally safe for daily
use, but excessive use might damage tooth enamel.
Teeth whitening gels
represent an alternative. However, the whitening process can
permanently reduce the strength of the teeth, as the process scrapes
away a protective outer layer of enamel.
Herbal and natural toothpastes
Companies such as Tom's of Maine, among others, manufacture natural
and herbal toothpastes and market them to consumers who wish to avoid
the artificial ingredients commonly found in regular toothpastes. Many
herbal toothpastes do not contain fluoride or sodium lauryl sulfate.
The ingredients found in natural toothpastes vary widely but often
include baking soda, aloe, eucalyptus oil, myrrh, plant extract
(strawberry extract), and essential oils.
According to a study by the Delhi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences
and Research, many of the herbal toothpastes being sold in India were
adulterated with nicotine.
This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help
improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (September 2017)
(Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The red area represents the material used for stripes, and the rest is
the main toothpaste material. The two materials are not in separate
compartments; they are sufficiently viscous that they will not mix.
Applying pressure to the tube causes the main material to issue out
through the pipe. Simultaneously, some of the pressure is forwarded to
the stripe-material, which is thereby pressed onto the main material
through holes in the pipe.
Striped toothpaste was invented by Leonard Marraffino in 1955. The
patent (US patent 2,789,731, issued 1957) was subsequently sold to
Unilever, who marketed the novelty under the Stripe brand-name in the
early 1960s. This was followed by the introduction of the Signal brand
in Europe in 1965 (UK patent 813,514). Although Stripe was initially
very successful, it never again achieved the 8% market share that it
cornered during its second year.
Marraffino's design, which remains in use for single-color stripes, is
simple. The main material, usually white, sits at the crimp end of the
toothpaste tube and makes up most of its bulk. A thin pipe, through
which that carrier material will flow, descends from the nozzle to it.
The stripe-material (this was red in Stripe) fills the gap between the
carrier material and the top of the tube. The two materials are not in
separate compartments, however they are sufficiently viscous that they
will not mix. When pressure is applied to the toothpaste tube, the
main material squeezes down the thin pipe to the nozzle.
Simultaneously, the pressure applied to the main material causes
pressure to be forwarded to the stripe material, which thereby issues
out through small holes (in the side of the pipe) onto the main
carrier material as it is passing those holes.
Colgate-Palmolive was granted a patent (USPTO 4,969,767) for
two differently colored stripes. In this scheme, the inner pipe has a
cone-shaped plastic guard around it, and about halfway up its length.
Between the guard and the nozzle-end of the tube is a space for the
material for one color, which issues out of holes in the pipe. On the
other side of the guard is space for second stripe-material, which has
its own set of holes.
Striped toothpaste should not be confused with layered toothpaste.
Layered toothpaste requires a multi-chamber design (e.g. USPTO
5,020,694), in which two or three layers extrude out of the nozzle.
This scheme, like that of pump dispensers (USPTO 4,461,403), is more
complicated (and thus, more expensive to manufacture) than either the
Marraffino design or the Colgate design.
Since 5000 BC, the
Egyptians made a tooth powder, which consisted of
powdered ashes of ox hooves, myrrh, powdered and burnt eggshells, and
pumice. The Greeks, and then the Romans, improved the recipes by
adding abrasives such as crushed bones and oyster shells. During
Japan's Edo period, inventor Hiraga Gennai's Hika rakuyo (1769),
contained advertisements for Sosekiko, a "toothpaste in a box." In
the 9th century, Iraqi musician and fashion designer
Ziryab invented a
type of toothpaste, which he popularized throughout Islamic Spain.
The exact ingredients of this toothpaste are unknown, but it was
reported to have been both "functional and pleasant to taste". It
is not known whether these early toothpastes were used alone, were to
be rubbed onto the teeth with rags, or were to be used with early
toothbrushes, such as neem-tree twigs and miswak. Toothpastes or
powders came into general use in the 19th century.
Tooth powders for use with toothbrushes came into general use in the
19th century in Britain. Most were homemade, with chalk, pulverized
brick, or salt as ingredients. An 1866 Home Encyclopedia recommended
pulverized charcoal, and cautioned that many patented tooth powders
that were commercially marketed did more harm than good.
Arm & Hammer marketed a baking soda-based toothpowder in the
United States until approximately 2000, and Colgate currently markets
toothpowder in India and other countries.
An 18th-century American and British toothpaste recipe called for
burned bread. Another formula around this time called for dragon's
blood (a resin), cinnamon, and burned alum.
By 1900, a paste made of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda was
recommended for use with toothbrushes. Pre-mixed toothpastes were
first marketed in the 19th century, but did not surpass the popularity
of tooth-powder until World War I. In 1880, Doctor Washington
New London, CT
New London, CT manufactured toothpaste into a collapsible
tube, Dr. Sheffield's Creme Dentifrice. He had the idea after his son
traveled to Paris and saw painters using paint from tubes. In
1896, Colgate & Company Dental Cream was packaged in collapsible
tubes imitating Sheffield. The original collapsible toothpaste tubes
were made of lead.
Together with Willoughby D. Miller,
Newell Sill Jenkins
Newell Sill Jenkins developed a
toothpaste and named it Kolynos, the first toothpaste containing
disinfectants. The name's origin is from Greek Kolyo nosos
(κωλύω νόσος), meaning "disease prevention". Numerous
attempts to produce the toothpaste by pharmacists in Europe have been
uneconomic. After returning to the US, he continued experimenting with
Harry Ward Foote (1875-1942), professor of chemistry at Sheffield
Chemical Laboratory of Yale University. After 17 years of
Kolynos and clinical trials Jenkins retired and
transferred the production and distribution to his son Leonard A.
Jenkins, who brought the first toothpaste tubes on the market on April
13, 1908. Within a few years the company expanded in North America,
Latin America, Europe and the Far East. A branch operation opened in
London in 1909. In 1937
Kolynos was produced in 22 countries and sold
in 88 countries.
Kolynos has been sold mainly in South America and in
Colgate-Palmolive took over the production of American Home
Products in 1995 at a cost of one billion US dollars.
Fluoride was first added to toothpastes in the 1890s. Tanagra,
containing calcium fluoride as the active ingredient, was sold by Karl
F. Toellner Company, of Bremen, Germany, based upon the early work of
chemist Albert Deninger. An analogous invention by Roy Cross, of
Kansas City, Missouri, was initially criticized by the American Dental
Association (ADA) in 1937.
Fluoride toothpastes developed in the 1950s
received the ADA's approval. To develop the first ADA-approved
fluoride toothpaste, Procter & Gamble started a research program
in the early 1940s. In 1950, Procter & Gamble developed a joint
research project team headed by Dr. Joseph Muhler at Indiana
University to study new toothpaste with fluoride. In 1955, Procter
& Gamble's Crest launched its first clinically proven
fluoride-containing toothpaste. On August 1, 1960, the ADA reported
that "Crest has been shown to be an effective anticavity (decay
preventative) dentifrice that can be of significant value when used in
a conscientiously applied program of oral hygiene and regular
In 2006 BioRepair appeared in Europe with the first toothpaste
containing synthetic hydroxylapatite as an alternative to fluoride for
the remineralization and reparation of tooth enamel. The "biomimetic
hydroxylapatite" is intended to protect the teeth by creating a new
layer of synthetic enamel around the tooth instead of hardening the
existing layer with fluoride that chemically changes it into
Modern toothpaste gel
Promotional poster for the
Kolynos toothpaste from the 1940s
Colgate Dental Cream (Toothpaste) With Gardol, c. 1950s
List of toothpaste brands
^ a b
American Dental Association
American Dental Association Description of
Toothpaste"Toothpaste". April 15, 2010.
Toothpaste overdose". National Library of Medicine. National
Institutes of Health. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
^ a b c Wolfgang Weinert in "Oral Hygiene Products" Ullmann's
Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, 2005, Wiley-VCH,
^ Nevitt GA, Witter DH, Bowman WD (September 1958). "Topical
applications of sodium fluoride and stannous fluoride". Public Health
Rep. 73 (9): 847–50. doi:10.2307/4590256. JSTOR 4590256.
PMC 1951625 . PMID 13579125.
^ Perlich, MA; Bacca, LA; Bollmer, BW; Lanzalaco, AC; McClanahan, SF;
Sewak, LK; Beiswanger, BB; Eichold, WA; et al. (1995). "The clinical
effect of a stabilized stannous fluoride dentifrice on plaque
formation, gingivitis and gingival bleeding: a six-month study". The
Journal of Clinical Dentistry. 6 (
Special Issue): 54–58.
^ Walsh, Tanya; Worthington, Helen V; Glenny, Anne-Marie; Appelbe,
Priscilla; Marinho, Valeria CC; Shi, Xin (2010-01-20). Cochrane
Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
^ Valkenburg, Cees; Slot, Dagmar E.; Bakker, Eric W.P.; Van der
Weijden, Fridus A. (2016-12-01). "Does dentifrice use help to remove
plaque? A systematic review". Journal of Clinical Periodontology. 43
(12): 1050–1058. doi:10.1111/jcpe.12615. ISSN 1600-051X.
^ "Triclosan: What Consumers Should Know". April 17, 2010.
^ Gunsolley, JC (December 2006). "A meta-analysis of six-month studies
of antiplaque and antigingivitis agents". J Am Dent Assoc. 137 (12):
1649–57. doi:10.14219/jada.archive.2006.0110. PMID 17138709.
Seventeen studies support the antiplaque, antigingivitis effects of
dentifrices containing 0.30 percent triclosan, 2.0 percent Gantrez
^ Calcium Phosphate Technologies from. dentist.net. Retrieved on April
^ Simon Quellen Field "Why There's Antifreeze in Your Toothpaste: The
Chemistry of Household Ingredients" 2008, Chicago Review Press.
^ Riley, Philip; Moore, Deborah; Ahmed, Farooq; Sharif, Mohammad O.;
Worthington, Helen V. (2015-03-26). "Xylitol-containing products for
preventing dental caries in children and adults". The Cochrane
Database of Systematic Reviews (3): CD010743.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010743.pub2. ISSN 1469-493X.
^ Division of Oral Health, National Center for Chronic Disease
Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC. Achievements in public health,
1900–1999: Fluoridation of drinking water to prevent dental caries.
MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 1999;48(41):933–40.
^ Canedy, Dana (March 24, 1998). "
Toothpaste a Hazard? Just Ask the
York Times. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
^ a b Delivering Better Oral Health: An evidence-based toolkit for
prevention. NHS. UK, 2007.
^ a b Kidd, Fejerskov, Edwina, Ole (2016). Essentials of Dental
Caries. Oxford University Press. p. 97.
^ "Tainted toothpaste across the world", New
York Times, September 30,
^ Bogdanich, W. "The Everyman Who Exposed Tainted Toothpaste", New
York Times, October 1, 2007.
^ Rule KL, Ebbett VR, Vikesland PJ (2005). "Formation of chloroform
and chlorinated organics by free-chlorine-mediated oxidation of
triclosan". Environ. Sci. Technol. 39 (9): 3176–85.
doi:10.1021/es048943. PMID 15926568.
^ Mukherjee, Ketan (2010-09-04). "FDA Reviewing Triclosan, an
Antibacterial Agent Found in Soap". Retrieved 2010-10-27.
^ "Tartar Fighting Toothpastes & Toxic Reactions".
toxictoothpaste.org. Archived from the original on 2012-04-23.
^ Anil S. (2007). "
Plasma cell gingivitis
Plasma cell gingivitis among herbal toothpaste
users: a report of three cases" (PDF). J Contemp Dent Pract. 8 (4):
60–6. PMID 17486188. Archived from the original (PDF) on
^ Canker Sores Archived February 8, 2006, at the Wayback Machine..
Dentalgentlecare.com. Retrieved on April 4, 2013.
^ DeSimone A., John; Heck, Gerard L.; Bartoshuk, Linda M. (1980).
"Surface active taste modifiers: a comparison of the physical and
psychophysical properties of gymnemic acid and sodium lauryl sulfate".
Chemical Senses. 5 (4): 317–330. doi:10.1093/chemse/5.4.317.
^ Tooth Whitening
^ Carr, Alan et al. Whitening toothpaste: Does it actually whiten
^ "Are yellow teeth stronger?". sciencefocus.com.
^ Chandra, Neetu (September 11, 2011). "Toothpastes contain cancer
causing nicotine, finds study". Mail Today. indiatoday.in. Retrieved
22 August 2014.
^ The History of
Toothpaste and Toothbrushes. Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved on
April 4, 2013.
^ Toby., Slade, (2009). Japanese fashion : a cultural history
(English ed ed.). Oxford: Berg. ISBN 0857851454.
OCLC 719377495. CS1 maint: Extra text (link)
^ a b Sertima, Ivan Van (1992). The Golden Age of the Moor.
Transaction Publishers. p. 267. ISBN 1-56000-581-5.
^ Lebling Jr., Robert W. (July–August 2003). "Flight of the
Blackbird". Saudi Aramco World: 24–33. Retrieved January 28,
^ "Other ingredients in toothpaste". Archived from the original on
October 18, 2007. Retrieved December 23, 2007. CS1 maint: BOT:
original-url status unknown (link)
^ Schlosser, Jim (December 20, 2005) "Get the lead out didn't always
mean for soldiers to speed up during World War II. It meant removing
lead from toothpaste tubes to make bullets." blog.news-record.com
Talk of the Town: Collapsible. The New Yorker (August 6, 1960).
Retrieved on April 4, 2013.
^ Kerry Segrave (January 27, 2010). America Brushes Up: The Use and
Toothpaste and Toothbrushes in the Twentieth Century.
McFarland. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-7864-5684-0.
^ Obituary on Harry Ward Foote, Science, March 6, 1942, pp. 241–242
Toothpaste and Nalgiri Cosmetics – A curious blend of
Greek and Hindu.
^ Early dental fluoride preparations (dentifrice, mouthwash, tablets,
etc.). Fluoride-history.de. Retrieved on April 4, 2013.
^ An enamel toothpaste that repairs teeth. BioRepair (January 18,
2013). Retrieved on April 4, 2013.
Hartman, Mitchell (March 16, 2018). "I've always wondered: how mint
flavoring became associated with clean teeth". I've Always Wondered
(story series). Marketplace. American Public Media. Retrieved March
16, 2018. On the history of toothpaste.
Duhigg, Charles (2012). "Chapter 2: The Craving Brain: How to Create
New Habits: Part I". The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life
and Business. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-1400069286.
OCLC 731918383. On the history of the marketing of
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Toothpaste.
Chemistry of Plaque Prevention with Toothpaste
Fluoride toothpaste history
Routes of administration, dosage forms
Time release technology
Osmotic delivery system (OROS)
Effervescent powder or tablet
Syrup Concentrate for dilution and/or addition of carbonated water
Buccal (sublabial), sublingual
Orally disintegrating tablet
Orally disintegrating tablet (ODT)
Effervescent buccal tablet
Dry-powder inhaler (DPI)
Metered-dose inhaler (MDI)
Oxygen mask and Nasal cannula
Relative analgesia machine
Mucoadhesive microdisc (microsphere tablet)
Pessary (vaginal suppository)
Intrauterine device (IUD)
DMSO drug solution
Electrophoretic dermal delivery system
Contact (rubbed into break in the skin)
Central nervous system
Patient-Controlled Analgesia pump