Most of the ingredients in toothpaste are there to make it taste, smell and feel nice, act as preservatives, or bind everything together. The rest of the ingredients that are actually included for the good of your mouth include:
This helps maintain the strength of tooth enamel and, despite controversies, is perfectly safe at the amounts found in toothpaste.
SODIUM LAURYL SULPHATE
This detergent crops up in all sorts of products including shampoos, washing powder and washing-up liquids. It helps remove fats, but mostly it’s just included to make a nice foam (which doesn’t actually help with the cleaning but we expect bubbles in cleaning products). It’s this stuff that makes orange juice taste vile after you’ve cleaned your teeth.
This antibacterial agent appears in many toothpastes. It helps prevent gum disease, but it is a cause for concern after you spit. Triclosan is difficult to remove from sewage and when it enters the water systems it is toxic to some aquatic organisms.
This mild abrasive used to rub away stains and debris. Alternatively, your toothpaste of choice might contain calcium carbonate (chalk), magnesium carbonate or aluminium oxides, all of which do the same job.