Most of our patients are familiar with expiration dates on their foods, but did you know that your toothpaste can expire as well? The Food and Drug Administration requires that all fluoride toothpastes be sold with a two-year expiration date. But does the product actually spoil with time?
Is toothpaste dangerous if used past its expiration date?
If you’ve accidentally used an old tube of toothpaste, don’t worry overmuch. According to the Massachusetts Dental Society, (MDS) the expired toothpaste doesn’t actually pose a health threat. The expiration date is required by the FDA, but is not an indicator of health concern.
While using expired products isn’t dangerous, the consistency or quality of the product may deteriorate. For example, the binding agents in toothpaste may become cakey with age, or the toothpaste may not foam as well in the mouth.
Charles Silvius DDS, president of the MDS
Should expired toothpaste be thrown out?
While your old toothpaste might not kill you, the quality can definitely decrease with time. The flavor, consistency, and density will continue to change after the expiration date. Using your toothpaste a week after it’s expired might not hurt, but the MDS recommends that you don’t continue to use toothpaste long after it’s expired. Get the most out of your dental products by using them before they expire.
In truth, if you brush your teeth after every meal, as we recommend you do, it should be used up long before the two-year expiration date!
Other Toothpaste Tips
With hundreds to choose from, it can be hard to know which toothpaste to use. The first thing to look for is fluoride. Fluoride has been clinically proven to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce decay. Most toothpastes contain fluoride, but check to make sure you’re giving your teeth a daily dose of this important compound.
Whitening toothpastes can scrub off stains, but are also more abrasive than traditional formulas. If you have weak or thinning enamel, whitening toothpaste may not be the best choice. In those cases, there are toothpastes formulated to fortify the enamel and reduce sensitivity.
Toothpaste companies are now releasing tartar-control or anti-cavity toothpastes, but do they really work? The truth is, any toothpaste helps to prevent cavities if used after every meal. Toothpastes with sodium hexametaphosphate, which is touted as an “anti-tartar” ingredient, have not been proven to break down deposits of tartar any more effectively than a standard toothpaste when used correctly. In truth, solidified tartar deposits below the gum-line are very difficult to remove and often require a professional cleaning.
Dr. Peter Wojtkun is your dentist in Andover, Massachusetts, offering the very best dental care and services. Call 978-475-1030 to set up a consultation.