Common ingredients in toothpaste include water, abrasives, fluorides, thickening agents and flavoring agents. Toothpaste comes in a paste or gel form. It removes plague from teeth and strengthens tooth enamel.
Abrasives clean the teeth. Commonly used abrasives are baking soda, calcium carbonate, calcium phosphates, alumina and silicates. Abrasives can damage the enamel of the teeth, so toothpastes with a gentle abrasive are most effective for keeping the teeth strong.
Fluoride is used in all toothpastes accepted by the American Dental Association, as of April 2015. It strengthens tooth enamel, and the most commonly used type is sodium fluoride.
Thickening agents maintain the form of toothpastes by keeping the liquid and solid portions of the paste from separating. Examples of thickening agents include carrageenan, cellulose gum, guar gum and xanthan gum. Thickening agents are also called binders.
Flavoring agents include saccharine and mint. Flavoring agents give toothpaste its taste. Although sweeteners are used, sugar is not.
Other common ingredients are humectants, detergents and preservatives. Humectants, such as glycerol, propylene, glycol and sorbitol, keep moisture in toothpaste. Detergents, such as sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium N-Lauryl sarcosinate, make foam when toothpaste is used. Preservatives, such as sodium benzoate, methyl paraben and ethyl paraben, keep microorganisms from growing in toothpaste. This allows toothpaste to be stored at room temperature.