Toothpaste Comparison Lab

Sara Pate ‘21 | Major: Nursing
Paige Phelps ‘21 | Major: Nursing
Emily Owen ‘21 | Major: Nursing

Mentor: Kimberly Hale, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Sciences

Abstract: The project we would like to present is on toothpaste comparison, with a beginning question of which works better and why. Before an individual can understand which toothpaste works better and has the ability to kill more pathogens that are living in the human mouth, it is important to understand the history of why there is such a need to brush one’s teeth. Many people might believe that brushing your teeth may be a relatively new idea with modern medicine and modern hygiene routines, but it has actually to have been dated back to around 500 B.C. By understanding the history of toothpaste and how it has been made over the years, it is important to investigate how we have come so far to create toothpastes that can control microbial growth.

When an individual is looking for a toothpaste to use, there are many factors that one can look at in order to provide the best oral care outcome. When looking at toothpastes, people can look at how abrasive the toothpaste ingredients are, the fluoride content, if there are any whitening factors present, and what factors it contains to prevent tartar. It is also important for the toothpaste consumer to observe what qualities they are specifically looking for in a toothpaste that can create the most positive outcome in regards to oral health and hygiene.

Out of all the previously listed toothpaste considerations, fluoride is the ingredient the consumer should look for when trying to reduce the amounts of microbial growth. With this belief that toothpastes that contain fluoride are more susceptible in decreasing microbial growth of harmful bacteria in the human mouth, this project is based on the idea that the higher amount of fluoride content in toothpaste, relates directly to the decrease of microbial growth.

Our group hypothesized that the Aquafresh toothpaste will clean the teeth and leave the least amount of bacteria on the teeth due to it having the highest concentration of sodium fluoride. Knowing that fluoride is a coating used on the outside of the teeth to prevent tooth decay, cavities, and oral bacteria growth, we decided that the toothpaste with the highest concentration of fluoride would show the best results at preventing microbial growth.

The toothpastes we decided to use were Crest, Colgate, Young Living, and Aquafresh, and each of them had a different concentration percentage of sodium fluoride. Aquafresh had a concentration percentage of 0.25%. Aquafresh, having the highest percentage of sodium fluoride measured at 0.25% involved in its makeup, was decided by the group to be the one that was chosen to produce the best results for cleaning one’s teeth.

We used the zone of inhibition method to test out this hypothesis, and we concluded that our thoughts were correct. Aquafresh produced the best results measuring a zone of inhibition average of 4.6 mm. Fluoride is a natural component in your teeth, and, when used in dentistry, helps to strengthen enamel and prevent cavities and their microorganisms from invading. While there were many variables present, we believe our project results to be conclusive in showing the effectiveness of fluoride in cleaning teeth.