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What Is Monosodium Phosphate?

Mouthwash may contain monosodium phosphate.
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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2014
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Monosodium phosphate is a compound of the elements sodium and phosphate counterion. It is often found in dental products due to its enamel-restoring qualities, and it is sometimes used in medicine as a laxative. Sometimes it is added to toothpastes in combination with other ingredients to prevent cavities and to restore lost enamel, but it can also be purchased separately as a tooth cleanser and protectant.

Most times, monosodium phosphate comes in crystals and powdered form. It is colorless and odorless. When used for oral health purposes, it is generally dissolved in water with one part monosodium phosphate to four and a half parts water. This combination can be applied directly to the teeth to restore enamel and prevent disease of the teeth and gums. In some cases it is also an ingredient in toothpaste and mouthwash.

Supplements of monosodium phosphate are also available in food grade tablets. These are not as potent as medicinal formulations and can be taken orally to supplement phosphorous in the diet. Horses are commonly given monosodium phosphate supplements for this reason. It is important not to overdose on these supplements because they can be hard on the kidneys if taken in amounts higher than recommended.

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In medicine, monosodium phosphate is sometimes used as a stimulant laxative before certain operations and medical procedures. This is not recommended for all patients due to negative reactions the supplements may have on the kidneys. Laxatives with a sodium and phosphorus base have been discontinued in certain countries due to these risks since safer alternatives are now available.

Because of the risk of serious health complications, patients should not take medical grade versions of monosodium phosphate without being under the direct supervision of a medical professional. It is also important to choose options which are specially designed for oral human consumption, since certain formulations may cause severe side effects. Anyone who is taking another drug or additional supplements should let their doctors know so that appropriate dosage recommendations can be made. Those with renal disease may not be candidates for these supplements.

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