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Old 09-01-2011, 11:12 AM
gytalf2000 gytalf2000 is offline
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Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
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Does toothpaste "go bad"?

Does toothpaste deteriorate over time? If I found an unused tube from a couple of years back, and then brushed my teeth with it, would it do me any harm? (Not urgent, just wondering...)
Old 09-01-2011, 11:14 AM
Mooch Mooch is offline
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Location: 6 blocks east of Mars
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I've been using the same tube I take camping with me for years - always tastes the same to me and gets the job done.

Of course I spit it out. Not sure what would happen if I swallowed it.
Old 09-01-2011, 11:16 AM
Rigamarole Rigamarole is offline
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Location: Riverside, CA
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Good question... I like buying non-perishable staple items (like toothpaste) in bulk so that I don't have to go to the store all the time to keep buying them. As far as I can tell there's no expiration date printed on toothpaste. I wonder if I would be alright buying a lifetime supply at Costco?
Old 09-01-2011, 11:23 AM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
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I've had the same tube in my second apartment for a couple years and the only thing I've noticed is that it has dried up due to my not air conditioning my condo. But I still use it since I haven't thought of bringing a replacement. So far I haven't keeled over...cross fingers.
Old 09-01-2011, 11:23 AM
Steophan Steophan is offline
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Location: Nottingham
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I am employed in the exciting field of toothpaste manufacture, and it does depend what sort. Some have a specific expiry date, it will usually be stamped on the seal at the end of the tube. These tend to be the slightly more advanced ones, such as whitening toothpaste, or stuff formulated for sensitive teeth. Others will have a standard symbol saying how long it should last after opening - an open jar with "12m", "24m" or similar (m for months).

It's pretty unlikely to harm you after that time, but any added benefits you're expecting beyond clean teeth may not remain after it's passed it's date.

That said, feel free to throw it away, buy some more, and keep me in employment!
Old 09-01-2011, 12:14 PM
ZipperJJ ZipperJJ is offline
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Originally Posted by Steophan View Post
I am employed in the exciting field of toothpaste manufacture
I love this place
Old 09-01-2011, 12:41 PM
mnemosyne mnemosyne is offline
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Location: Montréal, Québec
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It's my understanding that toothpastes containing fluoride are regulated by the FDA as a drug, and so probably have similar/same testing and approval criteria compared to other OTC drugs. In that case, expiration dates are likely based on some sort of stability protocol, and answer as to what happens after the expiration date becomes no one knows, it's never been tested, it never will be tested, just spend the money on a new one already. No manufacturer or government regulator does quality/effectiveness studies for longer periods of time than is needed for approval of the product, so there's no data to base any conclusion on. It might be stable for centuries, it might degrade and simply become less effective, it might degrade into something that could make you ill/cause weird effects/kill you. Studies show that this won't happen before the expiration date. After, you're on your own.
Old 09-01-2011, 12:42 PM
kenobi 65 kenobi 65 is offline
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Location: Brookfield, IL
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I used to work at a personal-care products company (shampoos, deodorants, skin lotions) -- not exactly the same, but not dissimilar.

As a rule of thumb, all of our products were known to stay "good" for three years after manufacture. They *could* stay good for longer, but, at a certain point, you might see fragrances deteriorate, chemicals change, etc.

With toothpaste, in particular, I'd be concerned that you've been introducing bacteria to the tube (if the tube comes into contact with your toothbrush when you apply paste to your toothbrush).
Old 09-01-2011, 01:16 PM
gytalf2000 gytalf2000 is offline
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Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
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Thanks for the information.
Old 09-01-2011, 03:46 PM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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Back in the old days, when toothpaste was actually a paste and tubes were made of some kind of metal foil that cracked along the creases, the toothpaste could dry out and become pretty much unusable.
Old 09-01-2011, 04:44 PM
ftg ftg is offline
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Location: Not the PNW :-(
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I keep a tube in my travel kit. I don't travel much and it lasts a long time. Once, I noticed it had gone bad. Awful, chalky taste. So I chucked it in the hotel waste basket. The maid thoughtfully retrieved it and put it on the counter. So I chucked it again. Fortunately the "game" ended after that round.

Yeah, it goes bad.
Old 09-01-2011, 05:07 PM
kenobi 65 kenobi 65 is offline
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brookfield, IL
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Originally Posted by ftg View Post
Once, I noticed it had gone bad. Awful, chalky taste.
Interesting...I wonder if the flavoring / sweetener in it had gone south?


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