How to Read Oral Care Product Labels

How to Read Oral Care Product Labels

Product labels (of any kind, really) can be confusing — and that’s putting it mildly. How many times have you looked at an ingredient list on your food, skincare, or oral care labels, and wondered “what on earth are those ingredients?” Yeah, probably more than a few times in your life. Often when we’re placed in that conundrum, we rely on a brand’s marketing or a celebrity’s endorsement to help us out — and it’s probably fair to assume many of us trust that what’s being advertised is being delivered. After all, we have the FDA as a gatekeeper, right? Well, yes...but also no.

Understanding how to read oral care product labels and being knowledgeable about the ingredients they list is important. In fact, they should be the first thing you check when you’re selecting your mouth care products. Why? Because, unfortunately, many oral care manufacturers are using harmful ingredients that actually hurt your oral and overall health, more than they help it. Plus, it’s important for parents to be able to spot ingredients that may be harmful to their kids if used improperly or at too young of an age. There’s warning labels for a reason — but more on that later. Here, we help you navigate confusing ingredient labels and the hoopla marketing tactics that convince you potentially harmful ingredients are great.

Ingredients List
Let’s start with what you probably came for — a breakdown of harmful vs. helpful oral care ingredients. To keep things extra simple because we’ve all had it with the confusion, we’ve created a table that lists ingredients to avoid and ingredients to look for.

Warning Labels
Warning labels are required by the FDA when cosmetic products may be hazardous to consumers when misused. When scanning your product labels, check which ingredients they’re calling out. Fluoride is a common ingredient you’ll see associated with the warning: if you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, get medical help or contact Poison Control Center right away. While fluoride is a helpful ingredient for adults or children with a higher risk
for developing oral disease (aka cavities and gingivitis), exercise caution and always chaperone when giving to small children (a pea-size amount of toothpaste is all they need). Or better yet, if your child isn’t high risk, look for ingredients that run little to no risk of accidentally poisoning the body like nano-hydroxyapatite or SuperMouth’s patent-pending ingredient Hydroxamin™.

Sneaky Tricks Brands Use on Ingredient Labels
Don’t be fooled by the marketing tactics. Many brands are professionals at masking harmful ingredients with clever messaging — but they can’t hide it in the ingredients list. Now that you know the harmful effects artificial sweeteners can have on the immune and bowel system, you won’t be duped by those “sugar-free” labels. And those “all-natural” claims? Well, the essential oils those products implement aren’t doing your oral microbiome any favors. In fact, they’re wiping it out completely. Same goes with the anti-cavity claims, as they often use antibacterial ingredients and/or alcohol to clean the mouth of harmful bacteria, and, in turn, take out the good guys too.