Ancient Egyptians and Romans used abrasives in their teeth cleaners, though they used crushed eggs and oyster shells to scrub their smiles. Luckily, people today are able to go to the store and choose toothpastes that contain a much gentler abrasive: hydrated silica. Here's more about this ingredient and the factors you should consider before adding it to your oral hygiene routine.
What Is It?
Hydrated silica is made from a hydrated form of silicon, according to the Conservation and Art Materials Encylopedia Online (CAMEO). Silica makes up a large portion of the Earth's crust and a form of silica you may be most familiar with is sand, says CAMEO. CAMEO explains the hydrated version of silica is sometimes used as a coating to paper and textiles, though you may find this ingredient in your bathroom's medicine cabinet.
The Environmental Working Group notes that this ingredient is common and serves many functions in personal care products, including cosmetics and toothpaste. It is an abrasive, an absorbent and a bulking agent in personal care product formulas, among other uses. According to RDH Magazine, this ingredient is perfectly safe to use in toothpaste.
Benefits of Hydrated Silica
The primary benefits of hydrated silica in toothpaste are attributed to its abrasiveness. Hydrated silica works well as a whitening and teeth cleaning agent.
Stains often settle on the outermost layer of the tooth, called the enamel. Some kinds of toothpaste whiten teeth with bleaching agents, such as hydrogen peroxide, that change the color of your enamel. Whitening toothpaste with abrasive ingredients, such as hydrated silica, scrub the stains from the surface of your teeth.
The other useful quality of hydrated silica's abrasiveness is its cleaning ability. Your mouth is full of bacteria and when they combine with mucus and food particles, dental plaque may form, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. If you brush your teeth twice daily with a clinically proven toothpaste, you should be able to keep plaque at bay. However, when dental plaque isn't scrubbed away and is allowed to build up on your teeth, it can turn into tartar. Plaque and tartar contribute to tooth decay and gum disease, which is why it's key to brush twice daily and floss in order to keep your whole mouth healthy.
If you opt for a toothpaste with abrasive ingredients, make sure that the tube has the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. The ADA only awards toothpaste with this seal if it has a relative dentin abrasivity score of 250 or less. That means that with regular daily use and proper brushing technique, the toothpaste will cause virtually no wear on the enamel or dentin.
Drawback of Hydrated Silica
One drawback of abrasives in toothpaste is that they may make some people's teeth sensitive, especially if they brush very hard and do not brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush. The dentin and the pulp that lie beneath the enamel are sensitive, says the ADA, so that why it's key to have a strong enamel.
If you experience sensitivity, consult your dentist and they can recommend which toothpaste and toothbrushes you should consider. If you don't experience any sensitivity, toothpaste containing hydrated silica could be your smile's best friend.