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Can I Use Expired Toothpaste?

Can I Use Expired Toothpaste?
Author: Posted: November 30th, 2021 Category:

Yes — toothpaste can expire! Not only does it become less effective once it has passed its expiration date, but it’s also not exactly pleasant to brush with.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate expiration dates for over-the-counter toothpaste. However, as the FDA considers fluoride as a drug, you’ll still be able to find an expiration date on your toothpaste’s packaging if your toothpaste contains fluoride. Similarly, the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance is only given to toothpastes that contain fluoride, so all ADA-approved toothpastes include an expiration date.

But what should you do if you reach for your toothpaste only to realize that it is past its expiration date? Can you still use expired toothpaste? The short answer is yes — as long as no mold has developed— but in general, you probably shouldn’t.

Why Does Toothpaste Expire Anyways?

Toothpaste generally contains ingredients that can benefit your oral health and make the brushing experience more pleasant. For example, you may find cavity-fighting fluoride, thickening agents, whitening peroxide, antimicrobials, anti-sensitivity agents, detergents, abrasives, and humectants in your toothpaste.

To reap all the benefits of brushing with a toothpaste, you’ll want to ensure all your toothpaste’s ingredients are fresh. If your toothpaste contains fluoride — a mineral that’s responsible for keeping your teeth healthy and strengthening your enamel — it will become less effective at fending off cavities and decay once the expiration date has passed, as the compounds in fluoride break down over time.

Toothpastes also include flavors, sweetening and moisturizing agents, detergents, and abrasives, all of which can affect your tooth brushing experience. For example, your toothpaste might change color, become less flavorful, harden, or become inconsistent in texture over time.

What Is The Typical Shelf Life Of Toothpaste?

Generally, toothpaste has a shelf life of two years from its manufacturing date before fluoride’s ability to strengthen and repair tooth enamel significantly decreases. 

Different kinds of toothpaste have different shelf lives, so make sure to double-check your packaging or tube for an expiration date. For example, children’s toothpaste doesn’t always contain fluoride, so it may not even have a printed expiration date. However, it’s still best to stop using it after two years because it may dry out or change in color and taste over time.

Is Expired Toothpaste Safe To Use?

While expired toothpaste won’t hurt you, it also won’t help you. After its expiration date has passed, the fluoride within your toothpaste will be less effective in cleaning your teeth and preventing decay and cavities, so it’s best to buy a fresh tube. Plus, toothpaste that old may be home to bacteria or contain separated ingredients.

Luckily, you don’t have to immediately throw out your old toothpaste! Instead, you can use it to buff your fingernails, remove crayon markings from walls or gummy residue from the bottom of your iron, polish metal, or clean your bathroom sink.

How Can I Keep Toothpaste Fresh?

To keep your toothpaste fresh and germ-free, make sure to close the top or replace the cap after each usage. Also, keep the edges of your toothpaste tube clean, as exposed toothpaste can easily pick up germs, dust particles, and dirt from your bathroom. Storing your toothpaste and toothbrush in a cabinet can also help minimize exposure to bacteria and dirt.

Hot temperatures can cause the ingredients in your toothpaste to separate or even liquify, so keep your toothpaste in a cool environment to ensure it remains effective for as long as possible.

Keeping Your Teeth Healthy

Brushing your teeth with non-expired toothpaste is a great starting place for keeping your teeth clean and healthy, but the work doesn’t end there. You should also floss each day and limit smoking, alcohol consumption, sugary beverage intake, and snacking between meals. Make sure to check your prescription mouthwash’s expiration date, search your over-the-counter mouthwash for signs of bacteria or fungi, and replace your toothbrush once every three to four months.

Visiting your dentist for regular check-ups is also an essential part of any oral hygiene routine. If you live in the San Diego area, stop by Espire’s La Mesa office in California for a thorough check-up and cleaning. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!