Did you know that toothpaste has an expiration date?
Before you squeeze the tube, it’s important to know that toothpaste doesn’t remain effective forever.
Does it Contain Fluoride?
Toothpaste is classified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the same category as cosmetics. Through this process, the FDA requires these products to be deemed safe and to include the active ingredients they say they do. They also require an expiration date.
Similarly, toothpastes that have the official seal from the American Dental Association (ADA) are also required to have an expiration date. Clearly the seal from the ADA is important to the toothpaste’s ability to make it in the consumer market and the required expiration date and any special handling instructions (temperatures, humidity, etc) have to be included.
Is it Dangerous to Use Expired Toothpaste?
The risk in using expired toothpaste from both the FDA and the ADA perspective does not lie in any potential danger or risk to the user. The concern is that the effectiveness of the fluoride may be less.
Fluoride is a natural element found in the earth’s crust as well as in water and air. It works by by binding to tooth enamel to prevent the formation of plaque.
If the effectiveness of the fluoride is weakened, the user may think they are providing a cavity fighting protective layer to their teeth each time they brush but they really are not. This can leave the enamel in a vulnerable state and opens the teeth to an increased risk of problems.
Must You Always Buy “Fresh” Toothpaste?
The good news is most brands have at least a two year shelf life, some even longer.
If the brand of toothpaste your dentist recommends and you prefer is available, go ahead and grab a few extra tubes. Just be sure to take note of the expiration dates when you see the discounted stack and keep an eye on them as you later open the boxes. In most cases, the few extra tubes you buy will be long gone before the expiration date.
Changing Lives, One Smile at a Time
Dr. Randall Burba is an AACD accredited dentist, practicing in Salem, MA. He considers himself an artist – with teeth and beyond! He often paints, draws and has a passion for woodworking. Follow Burba Dental Partners on Twitter and Facebook.