Skip to content


The unassuming tube of toothpaste in your bathroom has many chemicals working together to keep your teeth clean and healthy. Here are just some of the chemicals used in toothpaste:

  • Fluoride: Fluoride is added to toothpaste to help fight against tooth decay by making tooth enamel stronger and replacing essential minerals that are lost in teeth that have started to decay. Fluoride also can be naturally occurring or added to public water systems.
  • Titanium Dioxide: Titanium dioxide is used in small amounts in some toothpaste to give it a bright white appearance and texture, making it glossy and smooth.
  • Sodium Bicarbonate: Also known as baking soda, sodium bicarbonate is used in toothpaste to help remove stains from teeth by dislodging tiny particles of food or beverages that can blemish tooth enamel.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a cleaning agent and surfactant, is an ingredient in many personal care and cleaning products. It helps create the foaming action in toothpaste and helps remove food particles from teeth.


MouthwashMouthwash can help clean and freshen the mouth, by killing germs that can cause plaque, gum disease, and bad breath. Some common ingredients in mouthwash include:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide: In toothpastes and mouthwashes, hydrogen peroxide works as an oxidizing agent, offering a lightening and whitening effect.
  • Chlorine Dioxide: Chlorine dioxide can be used in mouthwashes and dentistry products as an oxidizing biocide compound to treat bad breath.
  • Phenol: Phenolics are used as disinfectants and may have an anti-inflammatory effect in mouthwash.


Brushing TeethYour trusty toothbrush might seem simple, but it’s made up of various chemicals, including:

  • Plastics: Most toothbrushes are made of plastic. The most common plastics used for toothbrush handles are polypropylene and polyethylene.
  • Nylon: Most toothbrush bristles are made of nylon, a synthetic fiber that is strong and flexible. It’s durable enough to withstand scrubbing and is also gentle on gums.

National Oral Health Month is a great reminder that a healthy smile goes beyond what you see. By understanding the chemistry behind your oral care products, you can appreciate the science that is working hard to keep your smile bright and healthy!

Back to Top

For more chemical safety facts, follow us on social media.

© 2005 – 2023 American Chemistry Council, Inc. The ACC mark, Responsible Care®, the hands logo mark, CHEMTREC®, TRANSCAER®, and are registered service marks of the American Chemistry Council, Inc.