Expiration dates have become obsessions of the human existence. It’s understandable. Eating something that has passed its expiration date could be very dangerous. Or it could just taste incredibly sour and disgusting e.g. milk. Thinking about expiration dates led us to a question that we had never wondered about before: does toothpaste have an expiration date?
Toothpaste’s Gone Bad?
Toothpaste does have an expiration date. But if you use it after that date…no harm will come. Not surprisingly, toothpaste is not dangerous passed its expiration date. The ADA, however, requires them to print an expiration date because it contains fluoride. The reason: after the expiration date, fluoride loses its potency and effectiveness. It loses its efficiency because it gradually loses the ability to bind well to tooth enamel. Once it can’t stick and harden against acid in your mouth, it’s more or less useless. From the sheer passage of time, the ingredients separate, losing the crucial ability to bind to teeth. Worse, the ingredients holding the flavor together may break up leaving you with a poor tasting paste. Fortunately, toothpaste’s general shelf life is roughly two years so the odds you’ll use expired toothpaste are minimal.
Expired But Not Useless
So you’ve somehow discovered expired toothpaste. Should you throw it out? Or make brilliant use of it? Clearly the latter is the correct choice. We’ve got some clever uses for that expired toothpaste too. Feel free to try them out:
- Shoe Polish: This doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Toothpaste cleans and polishes your teeth, why not shoes? It’s great at removing scuffs from leather shoes. Throw some paste on an area that has been scuffed and rub it with a soft piece of cloth. Take a damp piece of cloth and wipe off the paste. Your shoes will shine bright!
- Clean a Clothes Iron: To clean that gummy residue that occasionally builds up on your iron, just scrub it with some toothpaste. Those little abrasives come in handy again. Just make sure to do this on a cool iron.
- Soothe Burns: We obviously don’t mean 2nd and 3rd degree burns here. What we mean are the superficial burns people working in kitchen often get. Next time you accidentally do this, apply some toothpaste to the affected area. One of toothpaste’s key ingredients—eucalyptus oil—is great for soothing burns. This is also the case with various insect bites. Whether they’re burning or itching, apply some toothpaste over it. Works great for flea, ants and mosquito bites.
Dr. Aaron Schamback has a passion for practicing dentistry. He takes great pleasure in changing patients’ lives through their smiles. He received his degree as a Doctor of Dental Medicine from the University of Florida College of Dentistry and began Great Smile Dental in 2002. Outside the office, Dr. Schamback loves diving, fishing and kiteboarding and has a passion for staying fit. Follow Great Smile Dental on Twitter and Facebook.