Toothpaste is a paste or gel dentifrice used with a toothbrush to clean and maintain the aesthetics and health of teeth. Toothpaste is used to promote oral hygiene: it is an abrasive that aids in removing dental plaque and food from the teeth, assists in suppressing halitosis, and delivers active ingredients (most commonly fluoride) to help prevent tooth decay (dental caries) and gum disease (gingivitis). Owing to differences in composition and fluoride content, not all toothpastes are equally effective in maintaining oral health. The decline of tooth decay during the 20th century has been attributed to the introduction and regular use of fluoride-containing toothpastes worldwide. Large amounts of swallowed toothpaste can be toxic. Common colors for toothpaste include white (sometimes with colored stripes or green tint) and blue.
Toothpastes are generally useful to maintain dental health. Toothpastes containing fluoride are effective at preventing tooth decay. Toothpastes may also help to control and remove plaque build-up, promoting healthy gums. A 2016 systematic review indicated that using toothpaste when brushing the teeth does not necessarily impact the level of plaque removal. However, the active ingredients in toothpastes are able to prevent dental diseases with regular use.
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