What is a Toothpaste Color Code?

Portrait of woman brushing teeth

The internet is home to lots useful and valuable information. However, it is also highly susceptible to false information and widely spread, fabricated misinformation. One hoax that has surfaced has to do with the colorful markings you see on the bottoms of toothpaste tubes. Referred to as the toothpaste color code, social media posts and internet articles about the subject insist that the colors on a toothpaste tube reveal what the ingredients in the toothpaste actually are. As much as we love cracking secret codes, this one actually has nothing to crack because it’s entirely untrue. These markings have nothing to do with the ingredients in your toothpaste. As it turns out, they mean something else entirely.

The Claim

Several websites and social media posts claim that the squares you see on the bottom of your tube of toothpaste are actually part of a color code that tells you the ingredients in the toothpaste. According to the posts, green marks mean the toothpaste is made from only natural ingredients, blue marks mean it contains a mix of natural ingredients and medication, red marks means it contains both natural ingredients and chemical ingredients, and black marks means it contains only chemical ingredients. The posts warn people against toothpastes with red or black marks and encourage people to choose toothpastes with green or blue marks instead.

The Reality

The truth is: the toothpaste color-coding system simply doesn’t exist. Oral care companies don’t mark their toothpastes with colored squares to try to trick consumers and hide ingredients from them. We’re sure you’re wondering, so why are there color blocks on toothpaste tubes then? We’re happy to report that they do, in fact, have a purpose! They actually help in the manufacturing of the toothpaste tubes by telling light sensors where the end of the tube is so that it can be cut and sealed properly. We know, it’s not as exciting as a secret code, but we think the truth is pretty cool too.

How to Tell What’s in Your Toothpaste

So now we know that colored marks on the end of a toothpaste tube won’t tell you what’s in your toothpaste, but there is one sure-fire way to find out for yourself. The ingredients are usually printed on the packaging, either on the tube itself or on the box it came in. The American Dental Association also notes that most toothpastes contain the same basic ingredients, like abrasives to help clean teeth, flavoring agents, humectants to soften the toothpaste, and detergents to help the toothpaste foam. The ADA also points out the importance of using a toothpaste that contains fluoride because it helps to prevent tooth decay and cavities by strengthening tooth enamel.

If you want to know what kind of ingredients your toothpaste has, don’t look for a colored block at the end of the tube. Instead, take a look at the packaging for a comprehensive list of ingredients. You can talk with your dentist to learn more about how each ingredient works to keep your mouth healthy and what kind of toothpaste would be best to meet your needs.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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