What is the Process of development and production of
toothpaste? What is the chemical composition of toothpaste?
Formulating a toothpaste is a very complex problem. There are many factors
hat must be taken into account. A partial, but very incomplete list
1. All ingredients must pass Food and Drug Administration regulations.
2. Cleaning agent i.e. the "soap" that is going to remove
food particles and clean the teeth, abrasives to assist in the cleaning
process (cannot be too abrasive or tooth enamel will be removed, cannot be
too soft or plaque etc. will not be removed.
3. Flavor, must be pleasant, and must be associated with a "clean"
feeling. That is why mint flavors are so popular.
4. Must have a consistency that allows it to be squeezed from the
tube, but not liquify when heated to body temperature.
5. Must have the right amount of "foaminess" for the consumer. It would be
the available technology to formulate a toothpaste that did not foam at
all and be quite effective in all other respects. However, it would likely
be a market "flop" because consumers have become accustomed to correlating
"foaminess" with "cleaning power". That association is totally one of
perception, not reality. Nonetheless, a "foamless" tooth paste would not
likely find customer acceptance. The same psychology applies to other
consumer products: It is entirely feasible to formulate a low foaming
shave cream, shampoo, laundry detergent -- the list goes on and on -- but
you can see the point.
So like many consumer products, the formulation of
a toothpaste is a very complicated chemical, manufacturing, and marketing
problem with many feed backs, that is, if you change one property you have
to examine the effect of that change on all the other formulation
Not within my scope, but my opinion.
I know there are fluorides, as they
do prevent decay. Additionally, there are weak abrasiveness, my guess
probably the baking soda that goes back to the first uses
of tooth cleansers. There must be ingredients, for taste, aroma, probably
something for a quick change of state, semi solid to thick liquid. It is not
simple, a good question would be why did they decide on a tube? Was that the
best way to get it on a brush?
Toothpaste has several rather independent features:
b) sweeteners so you cannot taste that you are literally
washing your mouth out with (a) soap
c) long molecules or extremely fine powder, ("paste")
to increase water's viscosity, so brush-tips push nearby crumbs
a little harder
d) abrasives to push stuck-on dirt much harder,
the force of a plastic bristle-tip being focused by relatively
(warning: important that the grit is harder than plaque, but
softer than teeth)
e) fluoride, because the bone-like Calcium-phosphate in teeth gets a little
stronger, or better maintained by the body, with a small
highly water-insoluble Calcium Fluoride mixed in.
f) bacteria-killing chemicals
g) tooth-covering anti-adhesive chemicals ?
h) solvents or enzymes to loosen bacteria/plaque's grip
i) some defined pH (a buffered acid/base balance point)
j) some defined oxidation/reduction balance point
(most are neutral, slightly anti-oxidant.
Pastes with whitening peroxides are fairly strongly oxidizing.)
k) mild but persistent anesthetics to de-sensitize nerves in
Chemicals often used to do these (you will read them in labels):
a) sodium lauryl sulfate (almost always!)
b) saccharin or other artificial sweetener, _not_ sugar
c) gum, colloidal silica powder
d) sodium bicarbonate, other salts, maybe the fluoro-apatite mineral below
(a very weak, hydrated grade of it)
e) stannous fluoride, sodium fluoride, fluoro-apatite mineral: Ca/PO3/F/OH?/?
f) don't remember the specific compounds
g) cannot think of anything that can do this in a wet, bio-maintained
mouth. (car wax, maybe?)
h) I sometimes brush my teeth with mouthwash. It is 21% alcohol does this
i) sodium bicarbonate, many others, maybe a drop of obvious acids and
bases to trim the pH
j) any peroxides they find safe enough (a little touchy to prove that, if
you ask me)
k) phenol, salicylates (related to aspirin), menthol, others
Read the labels, look up as many of the chemicals there as you can.
If you have taken high-school chemistry, I think
you will be able to understand many of the chemicals and how they function.
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Update: June 2012