Unlike a lot of personal hygiene products on the market, toothpaste serves a very important function. Although there are varieties that claim to whiten your teeth and freshen your breath, toothpaste's primary function is to clean our teeth. Of course, it's unattractive to have cavities, tartar and bad breath, but brushing your teeth is more about being able to keep them than anything else.
Toothpaste is a dentifrice -- a product used to maintain oral hygiene. The ancient Romans used tooth powders made from abrasives like ashes, seafood shells and animal bones, but the modern version is, once again, an invention of the 19th century. Most early toothpastes included baking soda (the abrasive) and hydrogen peroxide (an antiseptic, disinfectant and natural whitener), which are still used in toothpastes today. Fluoride has been added to toothpastes since the 1950s and has been shown to help prevent tooth decay. In addition, toothpastes may include artificial sweeteners and flavoring as well as an antibacterial ingredient to prevent gingivitis, tartar and bad breath.
As with most personal hygiene products, more expensive isn't necessarily better. The least expensive toothpaste will clean your teeth just as well as the most expensive one. If you have sensitive teeth or want to whiten your teeth you'll need special toothpaste, but it's mostly about your personal preferences.