Published: 08 February 2024  (Updated: 08 February 2024)

CTPA Welcomes Policies from Political Parties on Improving Teeth and Gum Health in the UK

CTPA welcomes the Government Policy, published on 7 February, which focusses on improving oral health.  CTPA was also pleased to see the plans issued by the shadow political parties throughout 2023 focussing on how to protect and improve teeth and gum health in the UK. 

CTPA Director-General, Dr Emma Meredith, says “I am delighted that the major UK political parties all recognise that preventative oral care plays a critical role in reducing our need for dentistry services.  Toothpaste and mouthwash are cosmetic products, and regular use of these essentials from an early age embeds good oral care habits for a life-long healthy mouth.” 

Many toothpastes and mouthwashes are legally classed as cosmetic products in the UK.  These everyday essentials help reduce the causes of tooth decay and bad breath.  

How does toothpaste and mouthwash work? 

The major oral health problems we encounter are generally caused by two factors: what we eat and drink and the bacteria that occur naturally within the mouth. Oral care products such as toothpaste, floss and mouthwash protect the health of our teeth and gums by removing food debris and plaque (which contains bacteria) and by helping to strengthen the teeth against attack. Many also work to freshen breath and create the clean feeling experienced after use. 

Toothpastes contain mild abrasives which physically scrub away the plaque and food debris without damaging the tooth enamel. Most toothpastes contain fluoride which protects the tooth enamel. Some also contain antimicrobial ingredients to reduce the formation of plaque which can lead to tartar build-up and further problems, including tooth decay and gum disease. 

Mouthwashes contain cleaning ingredients to help to dislodge and remove food debris and loose plaque from the mouth.  Alcohol or other antimicrobial agents help kill bacteria and other germs that contribute to tooth decay and bad breath. Some mouthwashes may also contain fluoride to help make teeth more resistant to acid attacks that can lead to tooth decay. 

Ensuring safety 

Like all cosmetic products, the safety of toothpaste and mouthwashes is regulated by specific laws.  All cosmetic products supplied throughout the UK must be safe. The safety laws controlling cosmetic products are extremely stringent. In the UK, the manufacture and supply of cosmetics is governed by the UK Cosmetics Regulation, which is part of UK consumer product safety legislation. Compliance is mandatory. 

The majority of toothpastes on the market are cosmetic products, although some may be licensed medicines. In both cases, UK and European laws ensure toothpastes are safe for consumers. Whether medicines or cosmetics, a large selection of toothpastes may be found alongside each other on supermarket and pharmacy shelves. 


Read more on How oral care products work on our dedicated pages here: How do oral care products work? (


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