Is Colgate Total Toothpaste Safe to Use? Is It Bad for You?

Colgate Total

Colgate has always been a friendly neighborhood toothpaste. It is popular and reliable and it’s been around for years. So when your cavities started bothering you, you picked up a Colgate Total tube without a second thought.  

But did the controversies around safety freak you out? Are you reconsidering using it? This article will get to the bottom of this. It will help you decide if Colgate Total really is good and safe for use. 

Colgate Total came under the scanner because it contained triclosan. This chemical is an antimicrobial agent and preservative. It was effective at fighting bacteria and breaking down plaque. It was also a great defense against gum diseases like gingivitis.

The apparent risks were minimal, to begin with. Animal tests did show hormone disruption, kidney damage, and weakened immunity. But this hasn’t been proven in human clinical trials. When the U.S, FDA banned triclosan in 2013, it exempted toothpaste. 

It did not find health hazards that outweighed its benefits for oral health. But with rising health awareness, brands removed triclosan on their own. So Colgate Total toothpaste was also re-formulated to Colgate Total SF.

Colgate Total toothpaste no longer contains Triclosan. Instead, it contains Stannous Fluoride (SF) which is extremely safe to use. Colgate Total does a great job with addressing dental issues like sensitivity, halitosis, and decay and is hence a good choice to go with for your daily brushing routine.

What are the ingredients in Colgate Total toothpaste? 

These are the ingredients in the new Colgate Total SF sans triclosan. 

Active Ingredient 

  • Stannous Fluoride

This is the primary ingredient that fights cavities and strengthens enamel. It is one of the best options to curb gingivitis. 

Inactive ingredients 

  • Hydrated Silica 

This is an abrasive that gently rubs off stains from the enamel. It evens out discoloration and whitens teeth.

  • PEG-12 

This glycol is a lubricant that aids easy application. It enables the toothpaste to spread around the mouth.

  • Glycerin 

This humectant keeps the toothpaste moist. It prevents it from drying out and becoming hard. 

  • Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate

This compound is a chelating agent. It stops the formation of tartar, by binding to deposited chemicals. It also removes hard minerals from water and softens it. This makes the toothpaste work better.

Sodium citrate and citric acid are also pH balancing agents added alongside.  

  • Xanthan and Cellulose Gum

Both these gelling agents are added to increase viscosity. They impart a thick and even consistency. They are also emulsifiers and stabilizers. They enable the ingredients to blend, without separating. 

  • Zinc phosphate

This is an antibacterial compound. It keeps further plaque formation at bay. It also fends off halitosis.

  • Titanium Dioxide

This powdered mineral pigment adds white color to the toothpaste. It also increases its density, making it opaque.

  • Propylene glycol

This mineral oil is a preservative that extends shelf-life. It also improves texture, making the toothpaste smooth and lump-free.

Does Colgate Total contain fluorides (like stannous fluoride)?

Yes, Colgate Total does contain stannous fluoride. This has replaced sodium fluoride and triclosan in the original formulation. This compound has multiple oral health benefits. It breaks down plaque, fights gum disease (especially gingivitis), and also freshens breath. 

It reduces hypersensitivity by coating the dentine tubules. These pores run from the core of teeth to the enamel. They are a protective sheath over the dental nerves. Cavities and gum diseases expose the dentine nerves.

So stannous fluoride fills in these exposed pores. This protects the nerves from shocks from external stimuli. It also fights cavities by strengthening teeth. It staves off further decay due to acids or sugary foods.

Does Colgate Total contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)? 

Yes, Colgate total does use Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). This is a surfactant with detergent properties. SLS helps the toothpaste to foam during brushing. This is necessary to promote circulation to the inner parts of the mouth. Teeth in these hard-to-reach areas of your mouth are most likely to develop cavities.

Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB) is also a surfactant. It is added for enhanced cleaning action. SLS can cause irritation and inflammation. People may experience blisters, mouth sores, and tissue peeling from the inner cheeks. CAPB may also cause allergies, but to a lesser extent than SLS. 

Does Colgate Total contain xylitol? 

No, Colgate Total does not contain xylitol. This is a fermented sugar alcohol. It has a dual function – It adds sweetness. Also, combined with fluoride it also helps to repair damaged enamel. It also boosts saliva production which helps tackle dry mouth symptoms. 

Instead of xylitol, Colgate uses sorbitol, sodium saccharin, and sucralose. These ease the bitterness of the other ingredients. Sorbitol retains hydration and lubricates. The paste can then be squeezed out of the tube easily.  

Does Colgate Total contain hydrogen peroxide?

No, the Colgate Total range does not contain hydrogen peroxide. But other varieties like the Baking Soda and Peroxide Whitening Toothpaste and the Optic White Expert toothpaste do. These variants of Colgate toothpaste contain a 2% hydrogen peroxide concentration. 

The hydrogen peroxide functions as a whitener. It removes stains by disintegrating the particles that cause yellowing.  So discoloration is removed. The teeth become brighter. It also functions as a disinfectant. This aids oral hygiene. 

Does Colgate Total contain alcohol? 

Yes, Colgate Total does have a few alcohols in it. It contains propylene glycol which is an additional solvent. It dissolves ingredients that are insoluble in water. Benzyl alcohol is added to make the paste more palatable. 

It improves the taste with a fruity and floral tone. It also doubles up as a preservative. The flavor mix also contains terpenoids. These are alcohols derived from essential oils. These include anethole and menthol. 

Ethyl lactate is also added for scent and taste. It is secondary alcohol made from lactic acid and ethanol. These flavor-giving alcohols may trigger contact allergies. 

Does Colgate Total contain baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)? 

No, the Colgate Total range does not contain baking soda. But other varieties do contain sodium bicarbonate. These include Deep Clean Whitening and Baking Soda and Peroxide Whitening Toothpaste. 

Baking soda is a coarse substance that provides gentle scrubbing. It removes stains and polishes teeth. This makes the teeth lighter. It destroys calculus (tartar) build-up. Being alkaline, it neutralizes the acidity in the mouth. This creates a hostile environment in which bacteria cannot thrive.  

Does Colgate Total contain microbeads? 

No, none of the Colgate Total toothpaste use microbeads. Colgate has been micro-bead-free since 2014. They were removed considering the negative environmental impact. They were used as abrasives in toothpaste.

But Colgate Total still uses some plastic-based polymers like microcrystalline cellulose. These are biodegradable and are easily soluble. Microcrystalline cellulose is processed wood pulp. It is fibrous and gritty like sandpaper. 

Its polishing action creates a glassy surface. This means plaque deposits cannot stick to the surface of the teeth.

Does Colgate Total contain mint? 

Colgate Total varieties do contain mint extracts like peppermint oil and spearmint leaf oil. It also contains chemicals extracted from these essential oils. These include menthol, menthone, and ethyl menthane carboxamide. 

These additives keep your breath fresh and add a pleasant aroma. They provide a clean, crisp flavor and soothe nagging toothaches as well. They are not recommended as flavors because they are acidic and sugary. This can actually contribute to increased tooth decay. 

Does Colgate Total contain dairy and gluten? 

No, Colgate Total SF toothpaste do not contain dairy. They don’t contain milk proteins that some toothpaste use. The most common of these is RecalDent which whitens and adds calcium. But Colgate does not use any such dairy products or derivatives. 

Colgate Total is also gluten-free. They ensure there is no cross-contamination. So there are no traces of gluten in their products. This is great for people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. 

Ingesting or absorbing small amounts can be enough to trigger severe immune reactions like anaphylactic shock. Many pastes use grain extracts like oats as a thickening agent. Colgate Total uses gluten-free xanthan and cellulose gums instead. 

Is Colgate Total vegetarian or vegan? 

Colgate Total is better classified as vegetarian and vegan-friendly. Colgate claims that it avoids using animal by-products. But it isn’t certified as cruelty-free. They may be purchasing raw materials from third-party vendors who use or process animal products. 

There is no clarity on whether the glycerin used in Colgate Total is derived from animal fat or plants. Only the Colgate Zero Vegan Toothpastes are certified 100% vegan and cruelty-free. 

These are the only two Colgate products to receive the Vegan Trademark from the international Vegan Society. Colgate Total does not have this distinction. 

Is Colgate Total ADA approved?

Yes, the Colgate Total SF range has received the American Dental Association (ADA) approval.  The original Colgate Total had both ADA and FDA approval.  Reformulation to remove triclosan meant that the approval was annulled.

Till 2019, the process for re-approval was pending. As of now, Colgate Total SF with stannous fluoride has been given the ADA seal. ADA approval is an assurance of good quality and safety. It is also a guarantee that the formula is proven to achieve its stated objectives. 

Is Colgate Total abrasive?

Colgate Total is only moderately abrasive. Using a very rough-bristled brush with an abrasive toothpaste can weaken enamel. The Relative Dentin Abrasion (RDA) value indicates how harsh the toothpaste is. 

The RDA should never exceed the upper limit of 250. Colgate Total RDA is 70 which is low-abrasion. It will not damage the teeth in the long-term. Higher abrasion toothpastes can destroy enamel if used regularly. 

Using toothpaste with an RDA greater than 70 needs to be monitored by a dentist.

Is Colgate Total good for sensitive teeth?

Yes, Colgate Total SF does provide sensitivity relief. The working of stannous fluoride to lessen nerve sensitivity has been highlighted previously.

While it is useful, Colgate Sensitive Toothpaste is the best. It targets sensitivity specifically. It uses sodium fluoride which has many of the properties of stannous fluoride. And it also uses potassium nitrate. Potassium works miracles with hypersensitivity. 

It calms down nerve activity. It reduces the sensory pain signals sent to the brain. This soothes the nerves. This in turn relieves the throbbing pain.   

Is Colgate Total good for braces? 

Yes, Total is a good option for people who have braces. Since Colgate Total uses fluoride, this takes care of many issues. The toothpaste gets rid of food debris stuck between the braces. They also strengthen the enamel and re-mineralize it. This keeps cavities, decay and tartar far away. 

It is suited for people with braces. They have to brush multiple times a day. It has a very gentle abrasive formula which doesn’t chip away at the enamel. This ensures the enamel won’t corrode due to frequent brushing.

Is Colgate Total good for gum disease? 

Yes, this formulation is a great anti-gingivitis toothpaste. Gingivitis can lead to inflamed, bleeding gums. Colgate Total can bring down bleeding in a few weeks, with consistent use. It destroys bacterial plaque that causes gingivitis.

It kills bacteria on all surfaces including the tongue, cheeks and gums. This way gingivitis can slowly be reversed. Gum diseases like periodontitis cannot be addressed with Colgate Total. Toothpaste can only stop it from getting worse. It needs professional treatment. 

Is Colgate Total safe during pregnancy? 

Yes, Colgate Total toothpastes are largely safe for pregnant women. Fluoride based toothpastes are recommended during pregnancy. Teeth and gums become even more vulnerable during this time. They tend to decay and fall out, because of hormone fluctuations. 

Oral health is of prime importance during this period. Colgate Total is a good option as long as you don’t swallow it. Excess fluoride may harm you and the baby.  The minty scent may also help with morning sickness and hyperosmia. 

The only potentially harmful ingredient in Colgate Total is propylene glycol. This compound can be toxic in large quantities. It has been shown to cause organ damage for expecting mothers. It could also cause developmental problems in unborn babies. 

It is harder for pregnant women to break down this chemical. But in the concentrations used, it shouldn’t be harmful. It may cause skin allergies or irritations.

Can Colgate Total cause cancer? 

Not since the removal of triclosan. Even with triclosan, its carcinogenic properties were only proven in animal tests. The evidence was not replicated in humans. Triclosan is easily absorbed through the skin, mucous membranes and the stomach lining. This heightened the cancer scare.  

But the FDA did not deem it as a cancer hazard in toothpastes. No other ingredient in Colgate Total is carcinogenic. Only titanium dioxide carries a secondary threat. But this is only if the aerosols are inhaled. The solid form in toothpastes is perfectly safe.

Does Colgate total cause dry mouth?

Yes, Colgate Total may trigger dry mouth symptoms. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) often aggravates dry mouth because of its detergent properties. The foam cleaning action may dehydrate the oral cavity. It may reduce saliva production. Or it can cause tissue sloughing. 

If you are allergic, then it can further exacerbate the condition. But the fluoride in the toothpaste should ideally compensate for this. If this is not enough, you can use the Colgate Dry Mouth Relief Mouthwash. 

This article has detailed the pros and cons of Colgate Total as a possible staple in your oral hygiene routine. We hope it helps your twinkling smile dazzle even brighter!  


Anand Srinivasan
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