Harmful Ingredients in Your Dental Products

Dental ProductsAs knowledge about how to best protect dental health has advanced, dental products have become more sophisticated. There is a huge benefit to using them to protect your oral health.

However, due to reports you may see in the media and other sources, you may wonder if some of the ingredients in the dental products you use every day are truly safe. Here is a recap of the research on three ingredients in dental products that have come under review: alcohol, fluoride and triclosan.


Alcohol is found mainly in mouthwashes. The amount of alcohol found in dental products is offset by the fact that it has been “denatured” – that is, modified in such a way that it is extremely unpleasant to swallow in large quantities. There is no clear benefit to using mouthwashes containing alcohol; some recent research has raised concerns about excessive use of alcohol-containing mouthwashes increasing a person’s risk for oral cancer.

Your dentist can recommend mouthwashes that address your specific dental issues that do not contain alcohol.


After World War II, public health officials noticed that people living in areas with higher water fluoride levels had fewer cavities. Fluoridation of public drinking water supplies began in the 1940s. There has been no strong association found between drinking fluoridated water or using fluoride-containing dental products and cancer. Other health issues related to fluoride exposure continue to be evaluated by research.

If you are concerned about the amount of fluoride you are exposed to, you may consider checking with your local public water supply provider about the amount of fluoride added to your drinking supply.


Triclosan is antibacterial and antifungal agent found in consumer products, including Colgate Total toothpaste. Concerns have been raised about the chemical’s role in cancer and other health problems. Colgate has responded to this by stating that the safety and efficacy of Colgate Total is supported by more than 90 clinical studies, as well as by a broad set of safety evaluations.

If you have a concern related to the use of tricolsan, read the labels of your dental products and choose those that do not contain the agent.

“Patients should care about the dental products they put into their bodies,” says Dr. Carol Ford, a cosmetic dentist practicing in central Phoenix. “Your dentist can help you learn more about the ingredients in the products that you use and answer questions about their risks and benefits.”

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