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What's in your toothpaste? You may be surprised

Toothpaste is designed to help destroy bacteria in the mouth, remove plaque from teeth, protect teeth from plaque throughout the day, prevent staining and create fresh breathe. That’s a tall order for one product, which is why a combination of different chemicals is required for the job. When breaking down some of the most common ingredients found in popular toothpastes, you may be surprised how these chemicals are used elsewhere.

Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol is a chemical that acts as a penetration enhancer, keeping products from melting or freezing. Propylene glycol is used in newer automotive antifreeze's and de-icers at airports. Large quantities of propylene glycol are required to cause damage to your health.

Sodium Hydroxide

Sodium hydroxide is a chemical used for drain cleaner. However, the chemical becomes alkaline when dissolved in water, making it useful in neutralizing the acidic pH imbalance caused by the other chemicals used in most toothpaste.

PVM/MA Copolymer

PVM/MA copolymer is a binder found in hairspray that helps triclosan stick to your oral tissues in order to kill bacteria for a longer period of time. Without PVM/MA glycol, triclosan would wash away when rinsing.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Sodium lauryl sulfate is an organic compound mainly used in detergents for laundry and cleaning applications and is a highly effective in removing oily stains and residues. The compound is used as the detergent part of the toothpaste as well, which helps the toothpaste lather in your mouth.​

Sodium Saccharin

Sodium saccharin is the salt form of saccharin, an artificial sweetener. Sodium saccharin has 300 times the sweetening power of sugar. Now that’s sweet! It is added to toothpaste for, of course, flavor.​


Triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal agent used in many common household products such as deodorants, shaving creams, mouth washes, and cleaning supplies.

Is all of this scary? A little bit. You may look at your toothpaste somewhat differently now, however, avoiding large amounts of ingestion will keep you safe when using toothpaste. Toothpaste is vital for maintaining your oral health, and this mixture of chemicals, along with a few other ingredients, helps make that possible. All in all, it’s interesting to see how chemicals are manipulated in different ways for vastly different reasons.

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