One of the first things you might notice about a person is a shiny, white smile – the type of smile that lights up a room and causes others to smile back. Fluoride, found in most varieties of toothpaste, is a natural mineral that hardens tooth enamel, which prevents cavities and helps keep teeth healthy. However, there are other ingredients at work besides fluoride in toothpaste and for those who have some common sensitivity to fluoride, non-fluoride toothpaste is an effective alternate. So, without the protection provided by fluoride, how does non-fluoride toothpaste protect teeth? The answer is in the ingredients. Let’s take a look at the most commonly found active ingredients in fluoride and non-fluoride toothpastes and how these ingredients protect teeth.


Used as an alternative to sugar, Xylitol is a natural sweetener extracted from woody fibrous plants. It’s widely found in fruits, vegetables, trees and corncobs. Not only is it a wonderful sugar substitute for diabetics, but it also reduces plaque (one of the main contributors to gum disease) and helps prevent cavities.

Green Tea Extract

Although green tea is all the rage for many tea drinkers, it also has some valuable attributes when it comes to oral health. Pace University reports that the polyphenols found in green tea fight bacteria that reside in the mouth and can cause numerous viruses. It also prevents bad breath, also known as halitosis in its chronic form.

Papaya Plant Extract

Papayas are known for their treasure trove of black seeds, and they’re loaded with potassium and vitamin C. But papain, the enzyme inside a papaya tree, possesses its share of benefits as well. Most notably, papaya plant extract helps to whiten teeth by breaking down stains left over from certain foods.

Citric Acid

Oranges contain an abundance of citric acid. When plaque mineralizes on teeth, the result is a build-up of tartar. Citric acid assists in reducing the amount of tartar on teeth treated with it.

Zinc Citrate

Similar to citric acid, zinc citrate aids in the reduction of oral bacteria in the mouth. When left untreated, plaque collects on teeth and gums resulting in gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. Zinc inhibits the production of the bacteria that contribute to gingivitis.

Baking Soda

Also known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda serves multiple purposes when it comes to teeth cleaning. Like some of the above ingredients, baking soda fights plaque. It also functions as a stain-remover, which leads to a brighter smile.


This ingredient keeps toothpaste from drying out, gives it a consistent texture and helps it glide smoothly from the tube. Although it can go by multiple names — glycerol, glycerin or glycerine — it’s all the same molecule.


Sorbitol plays two parts: Along with glycerol, it helps hold the toothpaste together, and it’s also a sweetening agent. Saccharin is another common sweetener. Unlike sugar, however, sorbitol does not cause cavities. It can also be used as a sugar substitute for people with diabetes.

Calcium carbonate

This common abrasive helps remove plaque, debris and surface stains. Abrasives, combined with the scrubbing motion of your toothbrush, clean the surface of your tooth. They’re the reason your teeth feel so smooth and clean after brushing. Besides calcium carbonate, other types of abrasives in toothpaste include dehydrated silica gels, hydrated aluminum oxides, magnesium carbonate, phosphate salts and silicates. These abrasives are rough enough to get the plaque off, but gentle enough to avoid damage to your enamel.

If toothpaste with fluoride isn’t for you, going the non-fluoride route can clean your teeth just as well. It is important to discuss this with your dentist to get their opinion. But as part of any good oral health plan, be sure to include flossing every day and regular visits to your dentist.

Do you have any questions about toothpaste ingredients? Call Westermeier Martin Dental care to schedule an appointment with your dentist 716-508-4547.