Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Except there are a million brands, promising you the good life, and a really cute boyfriend.
I guess there’s always hope. The first habit we learn in life after saying “please and thank you” is to brush. Wash your hands, brush your teeth and say “please and thank you” and the world will be yours.
Oh, that it were so simple. And we would be wise to brush after eating cereal – all that sugar and stuff. That’s about all they have in common.
Today I went to the drug store to buy some toothpaste. Oh my gosh. How do you choose? I was brought up on Colgate – and to this day I use nothing else. But my teeth are getting crooked and a lifetime of coffee is taking its toll. Dear Mr. Colgate, you have let me down, I’m leaving you.
So I scanned the tooth paste aisle for something new. Boy did it deliver.
Toothpaste is not always paste. It can be a gel, powder, or paste that you brush onto your teeth and gums to help get rid of accumulating plaque and improve your oral health.
This once-lowly staple has become big business, with annual sales of $1.5 billion. Toothpastes today come in a dizzying range of colors, flavors, and formulations. There are trendy dispensers for products that purport to whiten teeth, sweeten breath, calm sensitive molars, and even stop gum disease. I think toothpaste can offer world peace.
“As recently as 10 to 12 years ago, there wasn’t that much of a choice for patients,” says Dr. Kenneth Burrell, D.D.S., senior director of the American Dental Association (ADA)’s Council on Scientific Affairs. So, what the heck is toothpaste anyway?
What’s in Toothpaste?
The exact composition of different toothpastes may vary slightly depending on the benefits being touted by the particular brand (such as whitening teeth or reducing gum inflammation). In general, toothpastes include the following ingredients (ick):
- Abrasives, such as magnesium carbonate, dehydrated silica gels, calcium carbonate, hydrated aluminum oxides, and phosphate salts.
- Glycerol, sorbitol, or other so-called “humectants,” substances that keep the toothpaste from drying out.
- Thickeners like seaweed or mineral colloids, synthetic cellulose, or natural gum to give the toothpaste a homogeneous appearance and texture.
- Fluoride to help make tooth enamel stronger and more resistant to decay.
- Flavoring agents that do not cause tooth decay, such as saccharin.
- Detergents, such as sodium lauryl sarcosinate, to make the toothpaste foamy.
My mother had a great tip for me and to this day I finish off my tooth brushing with a dip in the baking soda. I may have not so great teeth, but they’re the ones I came with.
Oh, by the way, I purchased a brand labeled Sweet Tarts Squeez. Now I’m off to find that cute boyfriend.