The One Thing You Should Always Look For In Your Toothpaste

Walk into the toothpaste aisle, and you're greeted with a wide array of options. Do you get one that focuses on tartar control? The one that whitens? The one that claims to strengthen enamel? Paste, gel, or powder? Tube or stand-up container? The options can be overwhelming, but one ingredient needs to be in your toothpaste that will benefit your dental health. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends toothpaste as a crucial part of your dental hygiene routine and recommends looking for the ADA seal of approval when choosing your toothpaste. 

Flip over your tube of toothpaste, and you'll find some common ingredients, and they all have different purposes. First, calcium carbonate is an abrasive that helps remove food, some stains, and bacteria. Next, the flavor is added — usually mint, but you can find various flavors from bubblegum to cinnamon. Next, glycerol keeps your toothpaste from drying out, and thickeners keep the texture. Finally, sodium lauryl sulfate, a detergent, is what makes the toothpaste suds up when you brush. These are all the base ingredients you'll find in most toothpaste (via WebMD). 

However, that list doesn't include the most essential toothpaste ingredient. 

The ingredient you need in toothpaste

Have you guessed the most critical toothpaste ingredient yet? If you said fluoride, you are correct. The American Dental Association points out that fluoride, a natural mineral, fights cavities and strengthens enamel. Check your toothpaste before buying, because not all of them contain fluoride. Make sure the ingredient is there so you can get the most out of your toothpaste. 

Fluoride is vital for dental health, and you may have heard it's added to drinking water in small amounts to help. According to the CDC, fluoridated water and toothpaste have helped reduce tooth decay and missing teeth. From the 1960s to the 1990s, tooth decay and loss have gone down 68% because of fluoride

Bacteria in your mouth break down carbs and sugar, then creating acids that erode your tooth enamel, a process called demineralization. Your teeth then become open to cavities from weakened enamel. When you use fluoride toothpaste, it adds mineral to your tooth enamel — a process called remineralization — making it stronger, which helps prevent cavities and decay. Fluoride will even reverse early tooth decay (via Healthline).