The Main Ingredients of Toothpaste

Today, let’s talk about the Fluorine in Toothpaste. The most basic ingredients of toothpaste are fluoride, abrasive and surfactant.

The role of fluorine is to prevent dental caries. It is often present in toothpaste in three forms: sodium fluoride, sodium monofluorophosphate and stannous fluoride.

The role of the abrasive is to wipe off tartar from the surface of the tooth with friction. That is why toothpaste can sometimes be used to remove scale on stainless steel. Common abrasives are calcium carbonate, calcium hydrogen phosphate, aluminum hydroxide, hydrated silica, calcium pyrophosphate, wrinkled carrageenan, etc.

In toothpaste, the role of surfactants is to foam and allow water to take away dirt. The most common surfactants in toothpaste are SLS and SDS.

Other ingredients in toothpaste are water, thickener, wetting agent and flavoring agent.

Some functional toothpaste will also add functional ingredients. Such as whitening toothpaste will add bleach hydrogen peroxide or urea peroxide. Hypoallergenic toothpaste will add potassium nitrate and so on.

Controversies about Fluorine in Toothpaste

For the toothpaste for infants and young children whether need fluoride or not, and how many fluorides are contained, different countries have different standards. Most countries recommend that children use fluoride toothpaste, but the amount of fluoride has different requirements. Generally speaking, the fluorine content standards of European and American countries are higher, while Asian countries such as China and Japan are lower.

The United Kingdom NHS (National Medical Service System) Recommends

Children under 3 years of age should use toothpaste containing more than 1000ppm of fluorine (equal to 0.1%) and brush their teeth more than twice a day. Each time the amount of toothpaste is the size of rice grains.

Children aged 3-6 should use toothpaste with a fluoride content of more than 1000ppm (equal to 0.1%) and brush their teeth more than twice a day. Each time the amount of toothpaste is pea-sized.

Adults need to brush their teeth more than twice a day and use toothpaste containing 1350-1500ppm (0.135-0.150%) of fluorine.

Two Australian Government Departments Give Different Suggestions

Fluoride containing toothpastes typically contain 0.1% or 1000 ppm fluoride and are recommended for use by all age groups by the Australian Dental Association (ADA). For children under the age of six the ADA recommends only a ‘pea’ size amount of paste should be placed on the brush.

And the recommendation of the Western Australian State Department is Children under 17 months of age are not allowed to use toothpaste. Only children from 18 months to 5 years of age use ‘pea-sized’ low-fluoride toothpaste. Children 6 years old and above use adult strong toothpaste. Supervise your child’s toothbrush at least before the age of 7 or 8. Make sure that children brush at least twice a day, once in the morning and before going to bed at night with a soft toothbrush. Encourage your child to spit out excess toothpaste, do not swallow, and do not rinse after brushing.

Both the American Dental Association and the FDA Have Focused on Controlling the Amount of Toothpaste Used

Emphasize that under 3 years old should use rice-sized toothpaste, 3-6 years old should use pea-sized toothpaste. For the fluoride content of toothpaste, ADA did not give specific recommendations, but looking at the fluoride content of ADA certified toothpaste, all are above 0.1% (ie 1000ppm). According to the different forms of fluorine, FDA allows the addition of 1000ppm or 1100ppm of fluorine in toothpaste, and low-fluorine toothpaste with a fluorine concentration of 250-550ppm (0.02-0.055%) cannot be certified by FDA.

Opinion of the Canadian Dental Association (CDA)

Children under 3 years old should decide whether to use fluoride toothpaste based on the risk of caries. Parents should only use it after consulting a dentist. If the dentist assesses the child’s high risk of caries, it is recommended to use a minimum amount. That is, no more than one meter of toothpaste. If the dentist evaluates that the child is not at high risk of caries, then you can use a toothbrush dipped in water. Children 3 to 6 years old, use fluoride toothpaste slightly smaller than peas.

Japan’s Requirement For Fluorine Content Is Relatively Conservative

The fluorine content in Japan is relatively conservative. The recommended fluorine concentration from 6 months to 2 years old is 500pm (0.05%) toothpaste, and only a small amount of toothpaste is recommended. For 3-5 years old, pea-sized toothpaste is used, and the fluoride concentration of toothpaste is still required to be at the level of 500ppm (0.05%). Only when you are 6-14 years old, you can use 1000ppm (0.1%) toothpaste, and you can only use 1500ppm (0.15%) fluoride toothpaste when you are 15 years old.

Recommendations of the Toothpaste in China

Children’s toothpaste contains between 0.05% and 0.11% fluoride. Almost all children’s toothpaste on the market in China indicates that children under 6 years of age are required to use pea-sized toothpaste.

children brush their teeth with fluorine toothpaste

Can I Use Fluorine in Toothpaste?

Why the suggestions are so various in different countries? It is not because the babies in different countries have different constitutions or different eating habits. It is because there is very little research and experiment on fluoride toothpaste for the children under 6 years old. With limited data and information, it is difficult for everyone to reach a very consistent recommendation.

But the following points are certain:

  • Fluoride can effectively prevent caries, and the anti-caries effect will increase with the increase of fluorine concentration.
  • Toothpaste with a fluorine concentration of less than 500ppm (0.05%) and fluoride-free toothpaste have no statistical difference in caries prevention effect (that is, only a fluorine concentration of 500ppm or more can prevent caries).
  • The use of fluoride toothpaste does increase the risk of fluorosis.

Because the child does not have the ability to completely spit out toothpaste when he is an infant, he will swallow the toothpaste. And children’s excessive intake of fluoride will lead to dental fluorosis. Because the baby is lighter in weight, the dose of fluoride poisoning is also shallow. For this reason, some organizations or experts do not recommend the use of fluoride toothpaste for children under 2 years of age.

But in fact, if you follow the recommendations of the ADA (American Dental Association) to control the amount of toothpaste your child brushes each time, there is no possibility of excessive fluoride.

According to the ADA recommendations: children under 3 years old only need to use the amount of rice-size toothpaste each time they brush their teeth; and children 3-6 years old only need to use pea-size toothpaste every time they brush their teeth. This is based on the premise that even if the child eats all the toothpaste, the fluoride will not be excessive.

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