All About Toothpastes

How many of us actually think about our specific needs while buying a toothpaste?

Did you know, what substances comprise your toothpaste?

Did you know, that there are different variety of toothpastes for different kinds of problems?

The toothpastes are customised to perform different functions, depending on a specific use case. Hence, it is important to understand which toothpaste should we be looking for, in the market, according to our priorities.

Toothpastes for Kids

These toothpastes are formulated with certain specific objectives:

a. They need to taste good in order for a child to use them promptly. Hence, they contain various flavouring agents (peppermint and spearmint).

b. The fluoride content in a kid’s toothpaste should be lower as compared to a conventional adult one. This is because children are at a risk of ingesting the toothpaste which may lead to adverse consequences. The risk of dental fluorosis is high among the children.

Flouride can be considered a double edged sword. It is required during the developing dentition, to make the enamel of the teeth strong, however, excess of fluoride, leads to mottlled and brown teeth and may also lead to crippled bones (skeletal flourosis).

It is suggested that upto the age of 18 months, the parents (or caregivers) may just wipe the gums of the infants with a damp, soft cloth without toothpaste. This is to encourage cleanliness of the oral cavity.

Between the age of 2-6 years, the amount of the toothpaste can be increased to a pea sized amount, to enable better cleaning of the teeth and also this age group has better control over spitting the toothpaste out. Above the age of 6 years, a child can switch over to an adult toothpaste.

Below the age of 2 years, the kids should use pedodontic toothpastes (the toothpastes meant for kids) with only a smear of quantity on their toothbrushes. This minimises the risk of fluoride ingestion among the kids, while also providing them with adequate amount of flouride to maintain their dental health.

Anticaries Toothpastes

The major contributing factor for the anti caries effect is fluoride. The action of fluoride can be either mechanical or biological.

Mechanically, the fluoride from the toothpaste and other dietary sources gets incorporated in the forming crystals of the teeth and forms Flourhydroxyapatite (instead of the regular Hydroxyapatite) which makes the enamel more resistant to the dissolution from bacteria.

Biologically, the Flouride may get incorporated into the bacterial metabolism and lead to the disruption of the bacterial cell wall, thereby benefitting the teeth.

Antiplaque Toothpastes

These toothpastes feature agents such as Triclosan, Delpinol or Zinc Citrate trihydrate. Triclosan inhibits an enzyme enoyl-acyl-carrier protein reductase (ENR), which ultimately reduces the bacterial binding with Nicotinamine Adenine Diphosphate (NAD+) and instead, forms a stable complex ENR-NAD which reduces the synthesis of lipids and hence, affects the bacterial membranes.

Zinc and Triclosan exhibit a good antimicrobial action and therefore affects a reduced microbial growth. It leads to inhibition of glucose uptake and metabolism and also modified virulence of periodontal microbes.

Sensitivity Toothpastes

These toothpastes aim at either nerve desensitisation (Pottasium Nitrate) or plugging the opened dentinal tubules (Sodium MonoFlourophosphate). There maybe various agents that are responsible for getting precipitated onto the dentinal tubules such as Sodium Fluoride, Stannous Fluoride, Stannous Chloride, Pottasium Oxalate or Bioactive Glass.

Fresh Breath Toothpastes

As the name implies, these toothpastes are aimed at providing a fresher and pleasant breath. The ingredients remain the same as the general toothpastes, however, the flavouring agents such as peppermint, menthol, spearmint are rather in a strong concentration, which provide a noticeable difference. Having said this, these toothpastes are not a cure for halitosis (bad odour from the mouth) as a complaint.

Just like any other body care products (body lotions and shower gels) toothpastes are also available with differing abilities and formulated to cater to a particular need/complaint. Taking care of one’s oral health not only means to brush your teeth regularly, but also being aware of the options that you have, to be able to choose wisely according to your specific needs.

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