Have you ever come across forgotten tubes of toothpaste stashed in your bathroom cabinets? Perhaps you've rummaged through your travel case for some paste when you run out of your favorite tube and have wondered if they're still safe to use. This begs the question: does toothpaste expire?
Toothpaste Expiration and Efficacy
Bottom line: those toothpaste stowaways might be safe to use, but they may no longer be beneficial. According to the New York Times, toothpaste that is past its expiration date may lose its effectiveness as time passes. Specifically, the fluoride in many toothpastes loses its strength and ability to bind to teeth if not used by the expiration date.
How Does Toothpaste Expire?
The toothpaste expiration date is normally listed on the packaging and generally falls within two years of product manufacturing. Beyond two years, the formula may be altered, affecting the amount of fluoride in each use, according to the New York Times. When toothpaste gets old, the fluoride may bind with other formula agents, resulting in a weakened paste.
Fluoride-free toothpastes are not off the hook, either. No matter the active ingredients, any paste that loses its viscosity or ability to froth up should not be used. Following the expiration date is one way to assure you're using an effective product.
How to Tell if Your Toothpaste Has Gone Bad
It's especially important to examine the consistency of your toothpaste, since separation of ingredients can occur. This can happen even before the expiration date and may mean components have shifted, dispersing varying degrees of active ingredients throughout.
Since elements such as fluoride must be spread evenly to be effective, it's best to discard the product to be safe at this point. With a simple toothpaste preservation strategy like this, you can assess each tube with confidence when you find yourself in a toothpaste shortage.
Keeping Your Toothpaste Fresh
How can you ensure that partially used toothpaste remains as fresh as possible? The common phrase, "Store in a cool, dry place," often seen on commercial packaging is great guidance here. Since heat can damage certain types of product formulas, it's best to keep used tubes in the driest possible spot in the bathroom, such as a drawer or cabinet. Labeling your tubes with the expiration date (or approximate purchase date) will nix any mystery of its potential effectiveness if there's no date on the packaging or if it's unreadable. Clean the opening of any buildup to protect the product inside, and close the cap tightly.
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Why It's Good
Knowing the signs that your toothpaste has expired will help you ensure that you're taking care of your oral health.