Hydrated Silica in Toothpaste: What's Its Function?

By Sher Warkentin in Natural Products

Knowing how to read an ingredient list is just one part of choosing the safest personal care products for your family. Actually knowing what those ingredients are is another important step. This can be a little daunting when you see a word with more letters than there are in the alphabet. But despite having some very long, scientific names, many ingredients found in natural toothpaste formulas are derived from natural sources. Learn more about what hydrated silica in toothpaste does and where it comes from.

What Is Hydrated Silica?

While it might sound like a complex scientific name, hydrated silica is simply a hydrated form of silicon dioxide. As the Encyclopedia Britannica explains, silica is the second-most abundant mineral in the Earth's crust. It's naturally crystalline, with sand and obsidian being common forms.

To make hydrated silica, the silica crystals must be heated and dissolved in water to create liquid sodium silicate. The liquid form is then mixed with acid and precipitated, which turns it into a solid. The end result is a fine, white powder, or granules. Depending on the size of the particles, they can then be used in a variety of ways.

Hydrated silica is a naturally derived ingredient.

What Does Hydrated Silica in Toothpaste Do?

Depending on the specific formulation and particle size, hydrated silica can have several uses in both natural and conventional toothpaste. According to an article in the Journal of the Pakistan Dental Association, hydrated silica acts as an abrasive to help to remove plaque and other particles from your teeth when brushing with toothpaste. Besides aiding in the removal of plaque and food particles, abrasives like hydrated silica can also help to remove stains, which makes them useful as whitening agents in toothpastes as well. Abrasives used in toothpaste date back over 2000 years, where paste mixtures were once made with bones and ground shells.

In addition to removing particles and minimizing stains on your teeth, hydrated silica can also act as a thickening agent to help form the toothpaste's consistency.

Is Hydrated Silica Safe?

While the word "abrasive" may sound scary, these ingredients are designed to help scrub away plaque and stains without harming your teeth. Hydrated silica is an ingredient that has been in use for a long time and which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). According to the FDA's Select Committee on GRAS Substances, silicates are biologically inert, which means they don't create a reaction in the body, and there is no evidence to suggest that they could pose a hazard.

Not only is hydrated silica safe to use every day in oral care products, but you can also feel confident choosing products with this ingredient because it is derived from one of the most abundant natural materials on the planet, making it a renewable natural source. The Environmental Working Group also gives hydrated silica a score of one out of ten, which means that it poses the lowest possible hazard to people and the environment based on their data.

Understanding ingredients can help you choose the best toothpaste.

Why Understanding Ingredients Is Important

It's been a few years since I made the switch from commercial toothpaste to Tom's of Maine natural toothpaste, and I couldn't be more confident in my choice. I remember clearly the moment I decided to make the change. With a new baby in the house, I had renewed my efforts to be vigilant about reading product labels. I decided to take a closer look at the ingredients in my toothpaste, and I was faced with a long list of words I didn't understand. I started to shop around for a natural toothpaste but quickly realized that I knew very little about the ingredients in these products, too.

It's not always easy to take time out of your day to research ingredients, but you don't need to earn a science degree to understand what's inside your toothpaste. I did just a little bit of reading—and I'm glad I did, because I learned about the many uses and safety of specific ingredients, such as hydrated silica. Plus, I finally understood where they actually came from. I then felt more equipped to make a confident and informed choice when I made the switch. After all, no matter how carefully you read that ingredient list, it's hard to find any answers without knowing what the words mean.

When you see hydrated silica listed on your oral care products, you can feel confident that you understand what its function is, how its derived, and why it's safe to use. To learn more about ingredients in natural products, check out the Ingredients from Nature board by @tomsofmaine on Pinterest.

Image Source: Sher Warkentin

The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.

Why It's Good

Reading an ingredient list isn't enough to tell you if a product is safe to use. You have to actually understand what the ingredients are. Taking a few minutes to research ingredients like hydrated silica can help you make confident choices when you're shopping for your family.