The Toothpaste Color Code: is it Real or it’s Just a Myth

Oral healthcare is very important and the industry of toothbrushes and pastes is growing. This means you get to see dozens of products on the shelf, each one claiming to work wonders for your teeth. Choosing from the large array of toothpaste tubes is usually based on the ingredients and health benefits. But there are people who claim the color bar on the bottom of the toothpaste is a code for its ingredients.

The color-coded toothpaste

The tale of the color-coded toothpaste which filled the internet says that each color means something about the ingredients of the paste. Green means it is all natural, blue signals natural and medicine, red is for natural and chemical while black is for pure chemical.

The reality is these colors have no meaning. The color codes on the bottom of the toothpaste tube are a marker for the machines which fold and cut the tubes. In other words, the colors mean nothing for the consumer. But you can find out how healthy is the toothpaste in your hand by knowing the ingredients and knowing what each of them does for your oral healthcare.

What is in your toothpaste

  • Most toothpaste contains the same type of ingredients: humectants, an abrasive, a binding, a sweetener, a flavoring agent and a surfactant.
  • The humectants are used to prevent the paste from hardening after opening. You should recognize it by one of these names: glycerol, xylitol or sorbitol.
  • The abrasive agent is what actually cleans your teeth, by removing plaque and debris. It can be listed on the toothpaste tube as calcium carbonate or silica.
  • The binder, which keeps the paste stable, can raise an eyebrow, because the name of the agents looks like pure chemicals: carboxymethyl cellulose, carrageenans and xanthan gum.
  • The sweeteners for toothpaste are sodium saccharin and acesulfame K, which also sound like dangerous, but they are not.
  • The surfactant, which makes the toothpaste foam up, appears as sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium N-lauroyl sacosinate.


What to look for in a toothpaste

When you are looking for healthy toothpaste you want to see one ingredient on the tube: fluoride. It is a natural mineral which strengthens tooth enamel, preventing cavities. It can be listed as fluoride, sodium fluoride, sodium monofluorophosphate or stannous fluoride. The more fluoride toothpaste has, the healthier it is for your teeth.

What got people obsessed over the allegedly color code on the toothpaste is the ability to spot a natural product. This is from the start a myth, as even healthy toothpaste has chemical ingredients. However, there are companies which sell herbal toothpaste. Instead of the ingredients above, these usually contain baking soda, charcoal, aloe and plant extracts. The problem with most herbal toothpastes is they are not clinically tested and proven.

The best way to choose good toothpaste is to ask for your dentist to suggest you one, considering your own dental condition, or ask them for prescription toothpaste. If you buy one from the market, look for the ADA seal of acceptance and fluoride on the ingredients list.

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