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Does Toothpaste Retire When It Expires?

SOUTHBOROUGH, Massachusetts – When coupons expire, they're no longer valid. If food expires, it's usually discarded because it may not be safe to eat. But what happens to toothpaste when it expires? According to Dr. John Sullivan, a Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) member and a general dentist in Westfield, the answer is, "Nothing. The reason toothpaste has an expiration date is only because the government requires it, notes Dr. Sullivan.

All fluoride-containing toothpastes require approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA). To this end, the USFDA requires that a two-year expiration date be put on the product container.

"The elements found in toothpaste, including fluoride, don't expire, and toothpaste isn't any less effective if it's used after the expiration date," says Dr. Sullivan.

The Colgate-Palmolive Consumer Affairs Office states that toothpaste, when stored under ideal conditions, can generally be considered effective even one and a half years beyond its expiration date.

Nevertheless, Dr. Sullivan does go on to explain that some of the esthetic aspects of toothpaste, such as flavoring and consistency, can diminish after the expiration date. "But even if a toothpaste's taste and density changes, it's certainly not harmful to use," he states.

Still, Dr. Sullivan does advise people not to go overboard. Although using toothpaste a short time after its expiration date is fine, "I wouldnt recommend using it several years after it's expired," he says.

For more information on dental health, contact the Massachusetts Dental Society at (800) 342-8747, or visit www.massdental.org.

SOURCE: Massachusetts Dental Society

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