The majority of patients use dentifrice in their daily hygiene routine. As such, it is a cost-effective and convenient vehicle to deliver ingredients that provide therapeutic benefits, cosmetic benefits, or both. Classification of dentifrice ingredients into these key benefit categories affects how products are regulated as well as the types of claims that can be made about a product. Products providing therapeutic benefits are regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The first therapeutic ingredient to be included in dentifrices was fluoride. Since this first therapeutic advancement in the dentifrice market, many other ingredients have been formulated into dentifrices to provide other benefits, such as plaque and gingivitis reduction, enamel protection, antihypersensitivity benefits, extrinsic whitening, calculus protection and reducing bad breath. These ingredients and their mechanisms of action are described in detail in this course, along with ingredients that provide stability and esthetic benefits to a dentifrice formulation.