Should I Use ADA-approved Toothpaste?

The ADA Seal in Your Toothpaste

In compliance with ADA’s Seal of Acceptance, let’s list several important points concerning toothpaste contents. All toothpastes with the ADA Seal must contain fluoride, and they may also contain active ingredients to help in lessening tooth sensitivity, in whitening teeth, reducing gingivitis or tartar build-up, or preventing enamel erosion or bad breath. Flavoring agents that cause or contribute to tooth decay (as sugar) may not be contained in any ADA-accepted toothpaste. A product earns the ADA seal by providing scientific evidence that demonstrates the safety and efficacy, which the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs carefully evaluates according to objective requirements.

Apart from the anti-cariogenic agent fluoride, in the forms of sodium monofluorophosphate, sodium fluoride and stannous fluoride (which are the only fluoride forms accepted by the FDA), other active ingredients in toothpastes are anti-hypersensitivity agents that reduce tooth sensitivity. These are potassium salts, amorphous calcium phosphate, casein phosphopeptide, and calcium sodium phosphosilicate. Another are antimicrobial agents: stannous fluoride and triclosan that help reduce gingivitis, and pyrophosphates, triclosan and zinc citrate to reduce tartar buildup.

Inactive components of toothpaste are abrasive agents, which clean and whiten teeth, as calcium carbonate, dehydrated silica gels, hydrated aluminum oxides, magnesium carbonate, phosphate salts and silicates. There are detergents to create foaming action that may help increase the solubility of plaque during brushing; they include sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium N-Lauryl sarcosinate. They also have flavoring agents, and non-caloric sweeteners like saccharin to improve taste and humectants, such as glycerol, propylene glycol and sorbitol, to help prevent water loss in the toothpaste. Others are thickening agents or binders to stabilize the toothpaste formula, and peroxide, to reduce intrinsic stains.

Toothpastes can also contain ingredients that, in rare cases, may cause irritation or allergic reactions; these may be essential oils, including spearmint, peppermint and cinnamon. On the other hand, the ADA uses a standardized scale called Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA) which assigns dentifrices an abrasivity value, relative to a standard reference abrasive that is arbitrarily given an RDA value of 100. All dentifrices at or below 2.5 times the reference value, or 250 RDA, are considered safe and effective.

While the U.S. FDA monograph stipulates that manufacturers of fluoride-containing toothpaste meet certain requirements for the active ingredients, product indications, claims and other qualifications, the ADA Seal of Acceptance program requires that the product be in compliance with the FDA monograph, in addition to meeting ADA Seal requirements.

Ask our West Seattle Dentist

If you want to know more about your toothpaste or if what you’re using is the best one for you, come over to West Seattle and let’s talk toothpaste and other matters.