Question Sheet: Putting the Squeeze on Toothpaste


Before reading:

  1. What kind of toothpaste do you use? Why? 
  2. What’s the main purpose of toothpaste?

During reading:

  1. What sorts of toothpastes are now available in stores? 
  2. What are the main ingredients of a toothpaste? 
  3. Why is the structure of toothpaste important? 
  4. “One of the big developments in the field has been the recognition that

    there’s a tremendous similarity between putting a force on a paste and waiting a

    long time,” Weitz says. What does he mean? Why is this important to know? 

  5. What natural ingredients are effective in a toothpaste? 
  6. Why is it important for a toothpaste to have fluoride?

After reading:

  1. Why is it important for brushing and teeth cleaning that toothpaste have

    both a liquid component and a gritty component? What other ingredients might

    toothpastes have? See National Laboratory). 

  2. What might be the health disadvantages of a toothpaste that’s too liquidy or

    a toothpaste that’s too gritty? See (Argonne

    National Laboratory). 

  3. Why is baking soda sometimes an ingredient in toothpaste? See in Mining). 
  4. In what ways might today’s toothpastes be improved? See (American

    Chemical Society). 

  5. What is a colloid? Is toothpaste considered a colloid? See (Wikipedia).


In the days before toothpastes and toothbrushes like those you use today, what sorts of things did people do to clean their teeth? How have toothpastes changed over the centuries? See (Toothpaste World) or


  1. Suppose that you are the president of the Global Toothpaste Council and you

    have to deliver a speech to toothpaste manufacturers from all around the world.

    How would you start your speech? Write out the first few paragraphs of your


  2. Toothpaste tubes and boxes try to appeal to shoppers. Go to a drug store or

    grocery store and look at the varieties of toothpaste available. Which brand

    would you be most likely to buy? Which ones would you never buy? Why? Write a

    one-page report describing how you made your decisions.


It costs 90 cents for the Striped Toothpaste Company to make, package, and ship a tube of toothpaste. The company also has “overhead costs” of $3,000 per month. The company sells (at wholesale) cartons of toothpaste at $2.50 per tube. This month, the company sold 5,000 tubes of toothpaste. What is this month’s profit?