Toothpaste expiration dates aren’t really something to worry about. The only thing that matters is whether or not the toothpaste has lost its effectiveness. Look at your tube of toothpaste to make sure it was made within the last two years.
Most toothpaste contains fluoride, a mineral that helps prevent tooth enamel erosion. It works by making teeth more resistant to acid and, in young children, absorbs into the enamel of the permanent teeth. However, this active ingredient is the primary reason toothpaste tubes have expiration dates.
Why Does Toothpaste Expire?
The FDA regulates all food and medicinal products and requires that they all have an expiration date to protect consumer safety. Because toothpaste contains fluoride, which is considered a drug, it is also given an expiration date.
The shelf life of toothpaste is two years from the date of manufacture, primarily due to the decreasing effectiveness of fluoride over time. Although fluoride is the primary concern, toothpaste includes other active ingredients that can lead to a less effective product over time. These ingredients may not expire, but they can separate or grow bacteria if toothpaste is improperly stored.
What Happens If I Use Expired Toothpaste?
Expired toothpaste will not make you sick, but it won’t help remineralize and protect your teeth. The main issues with expired toothpaste are degraded fluoride, drying, separation, and newly livable conditions for bacteria and fungi.
How Can I Keep Toothpaste Fresh?
To help keep your toothpaste safe to use, follow these tips:
- Store it in a cool area. Excess heat causes it to liquefy, which leads to the separation of ingredients.
- Store your toothbrush and toothpaste in a closed cabinet to minimize exposure to germs.
- Always clean the nozzle and close the lid. Old gummy residue is a haven for germs.
- Replace your toothpaste at least every two years. However, if your toothpaste contains organic ingredients like mint or activated charcoal, you may need to replace it more often. Always check your toothpaste’s expiry date.
Toothpaste is an integral part of routine oral health care, and the role of fluoride is the prevention of tooth decay.
How to Choose the Right Toothpaste
While toothpaste containing fluoride and other remineralizing ingredients like calcium phosphate help reduce acid erosion and prevent cavities, you may need specially-formulated toothpaste to address certain oral health conditions.
Children under three should use a non-fluoridated toothpaste free from abrasive particles. Young children may accidentally swallow fluoride toothpaste; excess fluoride can cause a condition called dental fluorosis, leading to white patches on their primary teeth.
Abrasive ingredients like nanoparticles or baking soda can lead to cavities because kids’ enamel is softer than adults’ enamel.
If you experience tooth sensitivity, you may need toothpaste containing ingredients designed to seal porous enamel. Look for toothpaste containing stannous fluoride, potassium nitrate, or strontium chloride. These ingredients desensitize teeth and calm the tooth’s nerves, allowing you to enjoy hot and cold foods without discomfort.
People with certain health conditions, such as allergies or celiac disease, should choose formulas to avoid problematic ingredients. Some allergies to toothpaste ingredients might cause a condition called cheilitis.
It may cause a rash or dry, cracked lips, or sensitivity and burning around the lips. Flavorings are the most common cause of allergies in toothpaste, but they may also be linked to:
- Propylene glycol
- Essential oils
- Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB)
Maintain a Healthy Mouth With Steger Smiles
If you have questions about toothpaste or would like to schedule an appointment for a dental cleaning or exam, call Steger Smiles at (708) 754-8090.