Chemicals in personal care products have a bad reputation- which many of them don’t deserve. Similarly, ‘natural’ and ‘herbal’ labeled products have a very good reputation- which many of them don’t deserve.
This distinction becomes very important when choosing a humble toothpaste.
When talking about toothpastes, ‘chemical free’ may not be good. All good toothpastes must contain certain chemicals, called ‘actives’. These chemicals are essential (do-or-die) when it comes to protecting your teeth. The most important of them is –
Fluride is a chemical that might sound too chemically dangerous, thanks to stupid fear mongering marketing. However, vast scientific research has established that fluorides are the most important ingredient in modern day dental care.
Here’s the science behind fluorides.
You know that there are bacteria in your mouth which feed on leftovers stuck in your teeth. These bacteria upon digestion excrete acids that erode our tooth enamel.
Enamel is made of a compound called ‘hydroxyapatite’. During enamel erosion, this compound is broken down into calcium and phosphate ions.
Now, when in the morning, you apply your fluoride toothpaste, the fluorides bind with these calcium and phosphate ions and create a new compound called ‘Fluorapatite’. This gets absorbed back as tooth enamel. Indeed, ‘Fluorapatite’ is much stronger towards corrosion compared to natural enamel.
That’s why, dentists and oral experts always advise you to use toothpastes that have fluorides in it.
So what about fluoride poisoning?
Yes, overdose of fluorides is dangerous, but a pea sized toothpaste can not cause fluoride poisoning. The quantity is way too small. Fluoride poisoning can only happen if your drinking water is contaminated and you are drinking too much of it.
Here are my pick of good fluoride toothpastes:
Other important chemicals to note.
This can help calm nerves in your gums and prevent tooth sensitivity. However, do not use this with kids under 12 years of age. Also, in the case of adults, avoid using them for more than 6 months in a row, without consulting your dentist.
Abrasives, in a way, are like exfoliants. They combine with the scrubbing movements of your toothbrush and help clean dirt stuck on your teeth. Commonly used abrasives include – salts (agar aapke toothpaste me namak hai), silica gel, hydrated aluminium oxides, magnesium carbonate, phosphates and silicates.
They are the reason for the bubbly foam. Chemicals like SLS are used as foaming agents in toothpastes. Again, they are safe to use as long as you are throwing the foam out and not drinking it in. That too in huge amounts.
Yes, all toothpastes are sugar free. The taste is derived from chemicals like sorbitol, saccharin and sucralose. Sugars are the favourite food for these tooth decaying bacteria, hence having them on your toothpaste would easily defeat the entire purpose.