Toothpaste is an oral health care agent that dates back to the 5th Century B.C. in East Asia. Following the conception of dentistry in the 7th Century B.C. and the field’s subsequent growth, the embodiment of toothpaste has evolved from containing natural substances such as tea leaves to abrasive chemicals, particularly: fluoride, triclosan, and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). Regarding how each respective reagent functions, fluoride forms a complex with calcium ions in the teeth to prevent erosion of the protective enamel coating. This ion also disrupts metabolic activities of Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans), which are the bacteria that cause cavities. Similarly, triclosan is involved in countering gingivitis and limiting bacterial growth. SLS serves as a foaming agent in many toothpastes for texture. Although these chemicals are generally effective in maintaining oral health and are present in many mainstream toothpastes, they also impose various health complications in humans. In particular, fluoride disrupts a vital metabolic pathway in odontoblasts (teeth cells), resulting in cellular death. Regarding triclosan, even in small concentrations within toothpaste, has been found to downregulate anticancer genes. Concerning SLS, this ingredient contributes to the formation and prolongation of mouth ulcers and also diminishes oral epithelial tissue thickness. In place of these ingredients, I have formulated three toothpastes that contain different combinations of the following, minimally abrasive Eastern medicine ingredients: coconut oil, sodium bicarbonate, bamboo charcoal powder, xylitol, matcha, and cinnamon oil. After conducting a minimum inhibitory concentration test to determine the efficacy of these formulations against S. mutans, my pilot data suggest that one of the formulations exhibits antimicrobial properties that are qualitatively comparable to three mainstream toothpastes from Colgate®, Crest®, and Sensodyne®.



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