CLOSE
Original image
YouTube // National Geographic

Watch: What's in Toothpaste?

Original image
YouTube // National Geographic

National Geographic has a new web series called Ingredients, in which chemist George Zaidan walks us through the ingredients in typical household materials. First up is a video about toothpaste. Zaidan checks the ingredients list and explains what everything does, discusses the history of toothpaste, and even gets into how you can make toothpaste at home.

What's impressive about this video is that Zaidan actually explains the chemistry of these ingredients and what they do. It would be easy to make a few wisecracks and move on, but this video is genuinely educational. Learn up!

From the YouTube description, here's an important update:

UPDATE: Since we filmed this video, the FDA has banned triclosan and 18 other ingredients from “consumer antiseptic wash products” (aka soap). You can read the details below, but the FDA is basically saying that none of these ingredients clean your hands any better than plain old soap and water. The FDA did not ban triclosan from toothpaste, but you can easily check whether your toothpaste has it by checking the ingredients label. Triclosan would be listed under “Active Ingredients” in the “Drug Facts” box on the back of the package. Most toothpastes don’t have triclosan, so you can choose to brush without it if you’d like.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Health
Why Not Brushing Your Teeth Is So Bad For Your Health
Original image
iStock

Even if you lie about flossing, consume a steady diet of sugar, and haven't been to the dentist in years, the very least you can do for your mouth is brush your teeth twice a day. Regular brushing is a basic hygiene practice that's observed across the globe, but just how necessary is it to human survival? In their new video, Life Noggin explains why the benefits of brushing extend beyond your pearly whites.

If you stopped brushing your teeth, all the bacteria and bits of food normally cleared out by your twice-daily cleanings would thrive unchecked. Cavities would start to form, your gums would become inflamed, and your breath would reach room-clearing levels of stench. But the sorry state of your mouth would be just a fraction of the problem. With the opening acting as a haven for germs, harmful bacteria like MRSA and Staphylococcus aureus would have a greater likelihood of surviving there long enough to enter your bloodstream. A dirty mouth can also nourish the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis, a bug that causes an advanced stage of gingivitis that may lead plaque to build up inside the arteries if it enters the heart. So when your dentist harps on you about brushing regularly, they're not being overly dramatic.

With the potential to prevent life-threatening conditions, you may wonder how the rest of the animal kingdom gets along without oral hygiene. While some creatures have developed teeth that replace themselves quickly or teeth that resist erosion, others make their own toothbrushes. Elephants, for example, wipe bacteria off their tusks whenever they scrape bark from a tree or dig a hole. Humans in ancient times used a similar method: Before the first toothbrush was invented, they would chew on bark and scrub their teeth with the tattered ends to get that refreshing clean feeling.

Check out the full story from Life Noggin in the video below.

[h/t Life Noggin]

Original image
iStock
arrow
Live Smarter
This Smart Fridge Camera Will Warn You When Your Food Is Going Bad
Original image
iStock

Food waste costs us a whole lot, both in terms of money and environmental impact. The USDA estimates that American families could each save about $1500 a year if they just ate all the food they bought. Sure, you could eat ice cream made of food waste from your local farmers market, but a more effective solution would be to cut back on the amount of food you personally waste every week.

A smart fridge can help, and you don’t have to buy an entirely new appliance to get one, according to Inhabitat. Smarter’s FridgeCam turns any refrigerator into a smart appliance, and all for just $127. Smarter, a British company that also makes smart teakettles and coffeemakers that hook up to your phone, designed the wireless FridgeCam to fit into any fridge.

A product shot shows a circular white smart camera against a white background.
Smarter

Once installed, you can peer inside your fridge from your phone, no matter where you are. (Which saves energy, too.) You can set the app to ping you when it senses you’re near a convenience store or grocery store to remind you to pick something up, or you can set it to autopopulate an online shopping cart of necessities.

In addition to letting you see your food with your own eyes, the camera tracks expiration dates in order to remind you when it's time to buy more milk and what food needs to be eaten ASAP. The Smarter Chef feature even suggests recipes based on what you have at home, including the stuff that you’ll need to throw out if you don’t use it up soon.

It’s unclear exactly how the camera tracks expiration dates, since presumably it might be hard for a camera to see an expiration date listed on the bottom of a jar, for instance. You might have to scan or input them yourself. Either way, a single camera that costs less than $200 is a whole lot cheaper than buying a new fridge. A futuristic kitchen just became a whole lot more affordable.

The FridgeCam is available for pre-order here.

[h/t Inhabitat]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios