A guide to toothpaste in Japan

In response to HOW TO: Find (good) toothpaste in Japan, some people were wondering about other types of Japanese toothpaste (aside from Aquafresh, which was used as an example in the "how to" post). Can you find whitening toothpaste in Japan? What about natural toothpaste? What other Japanese brands are available?

Depending on where you go in Japan, you’ll likely find a varied selection of toothpaste options. Some stores will have more variety than others and larger cities may have a greater selection than what you might find in a small town. Nonetheless, it is always possible to find a myriad of choices online if nothing near you seems appealing.

I want to cover some ingredients and things to look for here, as a general guide - you'll want to check the ingredients list to confirm what a particular type has to be sure of what you're getting inside.

And, if you're wondering about the basic vocabulary for toothpaste, please refer to HOW TO: Find (good) toothpaste in Japan.

Japanese Toothpaste Brands and Makers

The main makers of toothpaste in Japan include: Lion, Kao, Earth Chemical and Sunstar. Some common brands (though not comprehensive, as there are many) are:

Clinica            クリニカ
Denta             デンター

Clear Clean    クリアクリーン
Pure Ora        ピュオーラ

GlaxoSmithKline but under Earth Chemical in Japan:
Aquafresh      アクアフレッシュ

Ora2              オーラツー

*Note: there are other brands by other makers, including natural brands, but the list is far too long to write out here.

Whitening toothpaste
美白歯磨き or ホワイトニング or ホワイト

Yes, whitening toothpaste is available in Japan, though like most whitening toothpaste (at least in the US), it is the abrasives in it that essentially “whiten” the teeth, not peroxide. I wasn’t able to find any toothpaste with peroxide, and think Japan may have strict rules regarding this (if you know anything about this, feel free to comment).

Though, you can get your teeth whitened at some dentist offices and/or consult them for at-home whitening kits (as far as I’ve been able to find). If you know differently, feel free to add a comment below.

Common Toothpaste Ingredients

calcium carbonate                                                   炭酸 Ca
silica                                                                        シリカ or 無水ケイ酸

Lubricants (stuff that keeps toothpaste from drying)
sorbitol                                                                    ソルビトール液、
glycerol, glycerin                                                     濃グリセリン

Flavoring - 香料 , such as ユーカリタイプ or クールミントタイプ
saccharin                                                                 サッカリンNa  (artificial sweetener)

Other common ingredients

Note that not every toothpaste will contain all of the following ingredients - I gathered these from looking at a variety of different brands and types. Some may be relatively common, such as ethanol.

benzethonium chloride                                           塩化ベンゼトニウム  (antimicrobial)
triclosan                                                                 トリクロサン (antimicrobial)
sodium monofluorophosphate                                モノフルオロリン酸ナトリウム (protect enamel from cavities; used in Colgate and Crest)

polyethylene glycol                                                PEG-12 (humectant)
ethanol                                                                  エタノール
menthol                                                                 メントール
dipotassium glycyrrhizate                                      グリチルリチン酸2カリウム
tocopherol                                                             トコフェロール (antioxidant/Vitamin E)
sodium lauryl sulfate                                             ラウリル硫酸塩 or ラウロイルサルコシンナトリウム or ラウリル硫酸ナトリウム or ラウリル硫酸Na

xylitol                                                                     キシリットル
baking soda                                                           炭酸水素ナトリウム

Note: Most Japanese toothpaste does contain fluoride (fluorine). I wrote about it in the previous toothpaste post, but you'll want to look for フッ素  or フッ化ナトリウム. But I've checked, and more often than not I've found it to be included (though you can also get toothpaste without, if you prefer).

Top 10 toothpaste brands found in a Japanese drugstore/supermarket
(According to cosme.net on July 19, 2011)

1. GUM デンタルペースト
    GUM Dental Paste
2. アラウ せっけんハミガキ
    Arau Sekken (soap) Hamigaki (toothpaste) ← preservative free
3. コープ ノンフォームハミガキノーマルタイプ
    Coop Non-foaming Toothpaste Normal Type ← preservative free
4. 薬用シュミテクト
    Yakuyou (Medicinal use) Shumitect
5. リベルタ 口臭予防はみがき デンティス
     Liberta Bad Breath/Halitosis Prevention Toothpaste Dentiste
6. シャボン玉石けん ハミガキ
    Shabon Soap Toothpaste ← preservative free
7. タバコライオン
    Tobacco by Lion
8. ディープクリーン 薬用バイタル ハミガキ
    Deep Clean Medicinal Vital Toothpaste
9. クリアクリーン Change(チェンジ) しゃきっとハーブ
    Clear Clean Change Refreshing Herb
10. アパガードMプラス
      Apagard M Plus

Natural/Preservative-free Toothpaste

Though you can order or find toothpaste such as Tom’s of Maine in Japan, you can also quite easily find other natural and/or additive-free toothpastes in Japan. A few brands include (not comprehensive):

Pax Naturon パックスナチュロン
Arau             アラウ
Shabon        シャボン
M mark (Mマーク) by Matsuyama (松山油脂)


So, if you’re in Japan and thinking there is no possible substitute for whatever brand of toothpaste you used in your home country (assuming you can’t find it on Amazon, Flying Pig, Foreign Buyer’s Club, or elsewhere), rest assured that you can find toothpaste to match whatever you are currently using, and there are plenty of other options if you’re looking for something new.

Have you tried toothpaste in Japan? Any favorites?

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