Formula Anatomy Deciphered—Toothpastes

If consumers think that brushing their teeth with toothpaste is a simple hygiene procedure, they are mistaken. Mouth care is a complex strategy and modern cosmetics do much more than simply eliminate microbes. The oral cavity is a special environment, assembling entities including: living tissues, i.e., the gums, tongue and oral cavity mucosa; saliva, an ionic wetting fluid with plenty of enzymes; solid mineral/organic solid structures, i.e. teeth; nerve endings; bacteria and mold colonies that gather and form plaque; a two-way moving gas phase—the breath; regular supplies of nutrients via food and beverages; the arrival of other bacterial species from the environment and close human contacts; and subsequent temperature fluctuations. Bearing all these factors in mind, this article looks at one of the most common cosmetic products aimed to insure the adequate care of this intriguing body part.

Overall, oral health is improving worldwide. Nutritionists attribute this trend to the growing refinement of diets including less sugar, while dentists relate this improvement to advances in the quality and quantity of oral health services. Health authorities find that water fluorination has supported oral health improvement and toothpaste producers say the use of technically advanced toothpastes and their active ingredients are the reason. Regardless, the benefits of modern toothpastes are indeed multiple. Not only do they support oral hygiene, they also strengthen tooth structure, improve the functioning and physiology of gums, encourage consumers to maintain hygienic practices, decrease tooth sensitivity, improve the appearance of teeth, and provide a fresh breath. With so many variables in one product, how can the cosmetic chemist incorporate multiple ingredients into a stable, efficient formula? To answer this question it is important to know the goals of a particular formula and build it from the ground up, starting with the physical form.

Physical Forms

First, consider the most common physical toothpaste form, which the name itself suggests—paste. There are alternatives to this standard besides those having colored stripes or suspended microspheres, but paste is the most common. Pastes are generally profiled as soft, smooth, thick mixtures, although one could debate about up until what viscosity level a paste is a paste. In the current market there are semi-fluid, easy flowing pastes and viscous gels that can even be dispersed in water to prepare ad hoc mouthwashes.

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