Toms of Maine
Dental Professionals

About Our Products
Our Ingredients · FAQ · Press Room · Educational Resources · Toothpaste · Mouthwash Floss
Frequently asked questions

I didn't know you had fluoride!
What are your abrasivity levels?
What is the pH of your mouthwashes?
Do you use xylitol in any of your products?
I hear you make products for a dry mouth?
I thought you were SLS-free?
Why does your natural toothpaste taste different than mass-market brands?
What natural ingredients do you use?
Are you really kosher and Halal?
What is Natural Care?
Which flavors come with which benefits in your toothpastes?
Can I order your products for my office?

I didn't know you had fluoride!
Boy, do we hear that a LOT! We've had Fl2 since the '80s. In 1995 our original formula with fluoride was deemed safe and effective by the American Dental Association (ADA) and was the first natural toothpaste to bear the ADA's Seal of Acceptance. In 2000, our children's fluoride toothpaste became the first natural brand to also receive the Seal of Acceptance. In 2006, our Natural Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash and Naturally Waxed Antiplaque Floss became the first natural alternatives to receive the Seal as well. As part of the ADA acceptance process, our Research and Development team, together with Dr. Richard Corpron at the University of Michigan, proposed a new protocol that would satisfy both the ADA's fluoride testing criteria as well as our policy against animal testing. Tom's became the first company to conduct an intra-oral remineralization test of human subjects as a substitute to animal testing as part of the ADA acceptance process.

In a similar challenge that year, the FDA finalized its over-the-counter drug monograph for fluoride toothpastes, which also required animal testing. We petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to accept our intra-oral test in lieu of the required rat caries test, and began working with Dr. Domenick Zero of the Eastman Dental Center to conduct remineralization and demineralization tests acceptable to the FDA. Tom's became the first company to receive FDA approval on our fluoride toothpastes without animal testing.

Our relationship with Dr. Zero continues at the Oral Health Research Institute at Indiana University, where in situ tests for Tom's future product prototypes continue, ensuring both the efficacy of our products and the ethical promise that stands behind them.

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What are your abrasivity levels?
All of our toothpastes are well under the relative dentin abrasion (RDA) upper limit of 250 as set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 11609:1995, "Dentistry, Toothpastes, Requirements, test methods and marking"). Abrasion is a function of both the hardness of the abrasive as well as particle size and shape. The following are typical results for our toothpastes. We have made a conscious decision not to exceed 140 on the RDA scale.

Children's/Sensitive:  Under 100 on the RDA scale
Non-whitening adult formulas:  Up to 129 on the RDA scale
Whitening toothpastes:  130 to 139 on the RDA scale

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What is the pH of your mouthwashes?
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO 16408:2004, "Dentistry, Oral hygiene products, Oral rinses") has determined that a pH range of 3.0-10.5 is safe for mouthwashes. We are required to formulate our fluoride mouthwashes in accordance with the FDA anticaries monograph, which establishes a pH range of 3.0-4.5 as safe and effective. The ADA has also endorsed this pH range for fluoride mouthwashes.

When discussing pH one must take into account the buffering capacity of the mouth and the flow of saliva that mouthwash use stimulates, causing  a fairly quick restoration of normal oral pH. In-house testing has shown that when our fluoride mouthwashes are used as directed, salivary pH returns to baseline within 10 seconds of expectorating.

In our non-fluoride mouthwashes, the pH needs to be low  because our products contain no alcohol or preservatives. At neutral pH levels, bacteria would flourish unless we assigned an exceedingly short expiration date. In-house testing has shown that when our non-fluoride mouthwashes are used as directed, salivary pH returns to baseline within 10 seconds of expectorating.

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Do you use xylitol in any of your products?
Xylitol is a multifunctional ingredient and has several applications in our toothpastes:

  • Xylitol acts a non-cariogenic sweetener because it is a non-fermentable sugar. We do not use artificial sweeteners (saccharin) in any of our products and xylitol enhances the taste of our natural flavors and helps round out the flavor of our minty toothpastes as well as adding a touch of natural sweetness to our children's liquid gel toothpastes.
  • Xylitol’s soothing properties also help those with a dry mouth in our Clean & Gentle Care SLS-Free Anticavity plus Dry Mouth Soother Fluoride Toothpaste.

Beyond toothpaste, xylitol has been widely used in confection products as well. The National Institute of Health, in their 2001 Consensus Statement Diagnosis and Management of Caries Throughout Life, stated that "Noncariogenic sweeteners have been delivered to teeth as constituents of chewing gum, hard candy, and dentifrices. The evidence for both sorbitol and xylitol is positive, although the evidence for xylitol is stronger. Almost all studies of these agents included other interventions, such as fluoridated dentifrices, dietary modification, and oral hygiene instruction." The FDA allows an anticariogenic claim when xylitol is used in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, Part 101: "Food labeling: health claims; sugar alcohols and dental caries. Final rule." FR 1996; 61 (165)43433-43447.

You can learn more about xylitol at www.xylitolinfo.com, an informational website about the ingredient created by one of its manufacturers, Danisco.

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I hear you make products for a dry mouth?
Yes, we do! Our Natural Clean & Gentle Care Anticavity plus Dry Mouth Soother Fluoride Toothpaste (available in lemon-lime) may be a useful hygiene products for your patients who report experiencing a dry mouth. A dry mouth from medications, radiation treatments, age, and mouth breathing can make it difficult for your patients to comfortably maintain their oral hygiene routine. With our mild non-mint flavors, compliance will not be an issue. Our alcohol-free fluoride mouthwash provides additional cavity protection for those who need or wish to supplement their daily dental regimen. Xylitol, a flavorful natural ingredient from birch trees or corn, helps soothe a dry mouth by creating a pleasant cooling sensation. The toothpaste is SLS-free for added gentleness. And since our natural flavors taste great, compliance is assured! We hope that this product will be another useful tool in your toolbox to create an effective hygiene regimen for your patients.

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I thought you were SLS-free?
We offer a choice: our Clean & Gentle Care (Anticavity plus Whitening, Anticavity plus Dry Mouth Soother, and Antiplaque plus Whitening) and Sensitive Care toothpastes are SLS-free; we've developed a patent-pending process to foam and disperse ingredients using glycyrrhizin from purified licorice root. Our other toothpastes do contain SLS.

We know of two concerns regarding SLS. The first is its potential to have an adverse effect on a condition known as recurrent aphthous ulcers (canker sores). There have been a couple of studies on this subject. The first study involved ten subjects who were predisposed to canker sores. The researchers found that the application of SLS on the canker sores aggravated them. The study concluded, however, that more research was needed before any conclusions could be made about SLS and canker sores (possibly because of the small number of test subjects and the scientific methods being used). More recently, however, another study was conducted at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. This study included 100 test subjects plus a control group. The study found that the use of a non-SLS toothpaste versus a toothpaste containing SLS did not have any effect on the occurrence, duration, or severity of canker sores.

The other concern about this ingredient is its potential link to cancer. In order for this to be the case, SLS must contain impurities and be present in a product that also contains amines. If both of these are present in a product and the conditions of processing and/or storage are favorable, nitrosamines may be formed. Nitrosamines have been linked to cancer. So, the important word here is potential. There are no amines present in our toothpaste either alone or in a combination ingredient. Therefore it would not be possible for a nitrosamine to form.

At Tom's we are concerned about the safety and efficacy of our products, so we take these rumors seriously. Specifically, we have heard claims that SLS is linked to cancer, cataracts, liver or kidney damage, and other maladies. These widespread rumors have been investigated by respected publications such as The Washington Post and The Berkeley Wellness Newsletter, both of which have called them a “sham” and a “hoax.” So rampant are these rumors that they are even addressed on the Urban Legends website (www.snopes.com) under the “toxins du jour” heading, which provides additional reputable sources of information about SLS research. You may also consult our SLS Ingredient Fact Sheet.

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Why does your natural toothpaste taste different than mass-market brands?
We use natural flavorings and oils, not artificial preservatives or saccharin. This is why we encourage new users to take the “five-day flavor test”—to give their taste buds a chance to adjust. Use our toothpaste for five days, then try a regular brand. We think you'll stay with the clean, refreshing taste of our natural toothpaste. We have so many wonderful flavors to choose from, we know there's one out there for everyone. Try wintermint, fennel, strawberry, spearmint, peppermint, cinnamon-clove, or orange-mango.

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What natural ingredients do you use?
All of our product packaging lists our ingredients, their purpose in the product, and their source in nature. Please click on the “Ingredients” button on each product page to learn more. You can also visit our Ingredient Fact Sheet page for information on specific ingredients.

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Are you really kosher and Halal?
All of our toothpastes and mouthwashes are manufactured under the supervision of the Kashruth Division of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations and are certified as kosher and pareve. Please note, however, that our products are not kosher for Passover.

We also carry the Halal endorsement, which certifies that our products are made in accordance with Islamic guidelines under the supervision of the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA). (Halal is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted.)

Look for the kosher and Halal symbols on our packaging.

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What is Natural Care?
At Tom's of Maine, the idea of Natural Care guides what we make and all that we do. It means creating safe effective natural products free of dyes, sweeteners, and preservatives; harvesting, processing and packaging with respect for our natural resources; not testing on animals or using animal ingredients; donating 10% of our profits; and encouraging our employees to donate 5% of their paid time to charitable organizations.

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Which flavors come with which benefits in your toothpastes?
We've always been known for our deliciously exotic flavors, all derived from the natural flavor oils of fruits, spices, and minty, breath-freshening plants. Use our Toothpaste Flavor Guide to match our flavors with the kind of benefits you are looking for in our toothpaste.

Can I order your products for my office?
Our products can be ordered through Sullivan-Schein Dental. To order, visit their website or call 1-800-372-4346. This form (pdf) lists all the available products and pricing.

Purchasing full-size products
To purchase full-size products and/or products, flavors, and sizes not available through Sullivan-Schein Dental, please visit drugstore.com or check our store locator. Please be sure to call ahead at a store to find out if they carry the specific product(s) you want.

Can't find us in stores? Be an advocate!
Dental professionals are consumer advocates and health educators, so use the power of professional recommendation and ask your pharmacist and local stores to carry our natural care products. We'd certainly appreciate it!

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