It can be increasingly difficult to choose between different toothpaste brands. The simplest way to measure the pros and cons is to check if the toothpaste is approved by the federal dental health association. However, we at Iqaluit Dental Clinic suggest that you check the individual ingredients of every toothpaste before choosing one for you or your family. Here is a list of the best and worst toothpaste ingredients to help you make a better choice:

What are the best toothpaste ingredients?

Here is a list of some of the best ingredients you should look out for while shopping for toothpaste:

1. Potassium nitrate – Potassium nitrate reduces tooth sensitivity. There was a study conducted in 2012 which compared the effectiveness of toothpaste containing potassium nitrate with others that did not. The result revealed that toothpaste containing the compound greatly decreased sensitivity.

2. Fluoride – Fluoride prevents tooth decay and strengthens the enamel, and almost every approved toothpaste has fluoride in it.

Sodium fluoride toothpaste only prevents tooth decay. But some people have severe oral problems such as gingivitis, tooth sensitivity, tooth cavities, and stains. In such cases, stannous fluoride has been proven to be more effective than sodium fluoride.

Some dental health professionals recommend fluoride toothpaste based on the severity of tooth decay. If you’re unsure, consult your dentist before picking one for yourself.

3. Zinc Citrate – Plaque buildup is quite risky and can lead to several oral health issues. It’s a sticky film that forms on your teeth and is filled with bacteria. The plaque turns into tartar by absorbing calcium from your saliva. If not removed in time, plaque can cause bad breath and damage your teeth.

Plaque buildup is greatly reduced by zinc citrate. As proven by a study conducted in 2008, people who used toothpaste with zinc nitrate experienced a 24% to 52% reduction in bacteria buildup in their teeth.

4. Hydrogen Peroxide – Hydrogen peroxide is also a must-have ingredient in toothpaste, especially if you want brightly coloured teeth. It is proven to reduce tooth stains, which are slight yellowish marks mostly seen in smokers or people who consume a lot of fatty foods.

Hydrogen peroxide is only present in trace amounts since a higher quantity can easily damage the enamel.

5. Calcium Carbonate – Calcium carbonate is a famous abrasive agent. It has been used to create toothpaste ever since the concept of toothpaste came into existence. It’s a must-have ingredient in every DIY toothpaste out there.

Its mild abrasive qualities can result in pearl white teeth with regular brushing. A study conducted in Japan in 2019 also proved that calcium carbonate is quite effective at removing plaque without damaging the gum tissue whatsoever. 

What are the worst toothpaste ingredients?

1. Triclosan – Triclosan has antibacterial properties. It’s an organic compound that’s FDA approved and is used in body washes, cosmetics, antibacterial soaps, and toothpaste. It was included in toothpaste to prevent gum diseases.

Over time, it was discovered that Triclosan led to antibiotic resistance and thyroid function disruption. Slow metabolism and resistance to antibiotics can be fatal. The US even stopped putting it in their toothpaste after 2019.

2. Charcoal – Charcoal was previously used in toothpaste to whiten teeth by removing surface stains. However, it was later revealed that using it on your teeth on a daily basis can wear down the enamel and make them sensitive. It’s even been known to stain and even damage artificial teeth in some cases.

If you want whiter teeth, consult your dentist for better and healthier solutions, as toothpaste with charcoal in it is clearly detrimental to the future well-being of your teeth.

3. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) – SLS was used in toothpaste to create the foamy feeling that you usually associate with brushing your teeth. However, SLS is known to aggressively irritate mouth ulcers and even skin irritation in some cases.

However, the reaction was confined to selected individuals. So, if you’re experiencing chapped lips, an increased number of mouth ulcers, or even skin irritation, it’s probably because of the SLS in your toothpaste.

4. Propylene Glycol (PEG)– Propylene glycol is used to change the appearance of toothpaste. It gives the product its signature smooth structure and even increases the shelf life.

Prolonged exposure to the compound can result in liver and kidney damage. In severe cases, it may also lead to cancer. So always pick a chemical-free toothpaste and avoid any brand that has PEG in it.

5. Diethanolamine (DEA) – Diethanolamine is used in toothpaste and other household products to create foam.

However, a 1998 study linked cancers in animals to the topical application of DEA. It’s also associated with organ toxicity, hormone disruption, and even cancer. The study also discovered that DEA induced hepatic choline deficiency, which is a deficiency of the liver.

It’s banned from being put into toothpaste in the EU, and you should actively avoid it as well.

6. Artificial sweeteners – Studies related to artificial sweeteners like saccharin and aspartame are still inconclusive.

In the past, saccharin has been linked to lymphoma, brain tumours, and even bladder cancer. Aspartame supposedly increases blood glucose and is also linked to insulin resistance. Both compounds are still being tested, and the research is inconclusive.

Nonetheless, it is best to avoid them since there is still a lingering risk of several life-threatening diseases. Use natural sweeteners such as stevia leaves and honey.

7. Parabens – Parabens are preservatives that increase the shelf life of toothpaste by stopping bacteria and fungus growth. However, the compound is linked to multiple health risks, such as skin irritation, cancer, reproductive toxicity, and even endocrine disruption.

To avoid such risks, make sure your toothpaste does not contain anything with paraben in its name. For example, butylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben.


You should try to reduce your family’s exposure to toxic substances. It’s a difficult task, but hopefully, the list of ingredients helps you choose better products. If you have underlying oral problems, we at Iqaluit Dental Clinic suggest that you consult your dentist first before choosing a toothpaste.