Imagine that you’re out of toothpaste. You start digging into the back of your cabinet, and you find an old, unused tube. Is it safe to use it? Does toothpaste expire? What’s the typical shelf life of toothpaste, anyway? In this blog from Lenoir City dentist at Lakeside Dental, we’ll answer all of these questions and more, and explain the basics of toothpaste expiration dates.
First, let’s answer your question. Does toothpaste expire? The answer is “yes.” Toothpaste does have a “best by” date when it’s the most effective. And if you check a tube of toothpaste and this date has passed, we recommend that you throw it away and replace it with a new tube.
Usually, this “best by” date will be two years after the toothpaste has been manufactured. Most people use a full tube of toothpaste about every three or four months. So unless you buy a lot of toothpaste in bulk or you have lots of samples or tubes of travel toothpaste that you occasionally use, this won’t really be an issue for you.
Unlike some other things (like food), using expired toothpaste won’t necessarily be harmful. The “best by” date is just that. It’s the date at which the toothpaste is guaranteed to be the most effective at fighting cavities.
This is because all ADA-accepted toothpaste contains fluoride. This active ingredient helps rebuild and strengthen enamel, preventing tooth decay and gum disease. And fluoride stays at its optimal level of effectiveness and stability for two years. After this time, it may lose effectiveness.
After two years, some of the other ingredients in the toothpaste like sweeteners and flavorings may also start to break down and change, or the ingredients may separate. Again, this won’t hurt you, but it can certainly make the toothpaste unpleasant to use.
Also, if you are using an old tube of toothpaste that’s been previously used and recapped, there’s a chance that bacteria, fungi, or mold could develop in it over time. This is not common, but it’s another reason you may want to toss that old, half-used tube of expired toothpaste and replace it with a new tube.
If it’s been a while since you’ve checked the expiration date of the toothpaste in your cabinet, now is a good time to take a look and toss any old and expired tubes. Then, head to the store and replace your old, expired toothpaste with any tube of ADA-accepted toothpaste. Toothpaste with the ADA seal of approval has been proven to help protect your teeth and gums from tooth decay and gum disease when used properly.
Using old toothpaste probably won’t hurt you. But it’s not guaranteed to be as effective as freshly-made toothpaste, and since it’s so cheap, it’s best to replace any expired tubes of toothpaste that you've got lying around.
Another essential part of good oral health and hygiene is seeing a dentist like Dr. Joseph Blalock for a checkup every six months and preventative care. So if you’re overdue for an appointment, don’t wait. Contact Lakeside Dental online or give us a call at (865) 635-4999 to schedule your next teeth cleaning and oral exam right away.