What toothpaste should I use? This is a common question you may be asking yourself in which the answer can often be confusing with the vast number of options available today. This article will touch on the basics and hopefully give you a starting place.
Asking what toothpaste to use implies you must use toothpaste. While it is true that most people should use toothpaste, there are exceptions. For many people, the use of toothpaste gives them a false sense of cleanliness due to foaming agent in the toothpaste. The sensation caused by the foaming will make the teeth and gums feel smoother and thus cleaner when in fact the paste is just covering plaque that was not adequately removed. Therefore, for individuals who brush regularly but continue to have plaque or dental problems, we will often recommend brushing in two steps. First brush with just water on the toothbrush and then when it feels like the teeth are clean, go back through and brush with toothpaste due to the advantages of toothpaste. Also, some individuals have reactions to some of the ingredients of toothpaste causing mouth sores and pain, therefore if no toothpaste can be found to relieve those symptoms we recommend not using any.
So which toothpaste to use? If you have a healthy mouth and no or limited dental issues than typically you can use any toothpaste you prefer for the taste and feel. However, it is recommended to use an ADA recommended toothpaste all toothpastes with the ADA Seal of Acceptance contain fluoride, have no ingredients that contribute to tooth decay and have shown scientific evidence that they are safe and effective.
There are several types of toothpaste available today:
Anti-cavity (Remineralizing): All toothpaste that has fluoride is anti-cavity as it is the fluoride that allows them to make these claims. Fluoride remineralizes the enamel that is demineralized from acid produced by bacteria in the mouth that can lead to cavities.
Tarter Control: The ingredients in tarter control toothpaste can help reduce the amount of hardened plaque, known as tarter, from developing. This only helps where the toothpaste can reach, so is not effective in decreasing the tarter that develops below the gums, which causes gum (periodontal) disease.
Whitening: This is a popular advertising gimmick. Whitening toothpaste will not actually whiten your teeth; rather, these are designed to reduce the stains better than other types of toothpaste. Therefore, they are only effective for those who have habits which lead to staining such as smoking, drinking wine, tea or soda. Some whitening toothpaste can be quite abrasive which can be damaging to the enamel of the teeth.
Sensitivity: This is one category that dentists recommend most often to patients. Sensitive teeth are quite common and if mild then they often can be controlled with sensitivity toothpaste. If the sensitivity is not manageable or extreme, then best to be evaluated by a dentist to rule out a more serious issue.
Natural: This is a growing category with many claims being made from the companies. Because many claims are unproven it is best to stick with an ADA approved natural toothpaste such as the ADA approved variety of Tom’s of Maine. Typically, natural toothpastes are free of added colors, artificial flavors and chemicals. This can be quite helpful for those who get sores or have reactions from traditional ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate, which for some individuals can cause mouth sores.
The bottom line with toothpaste is for most people the best choice is what you will use as long as it is ADA approved with fluoride. The specialty categories of toothpaste are often used in marketing but can, in certain situations, make a difference. If in doubt, consult with your dental hygienist or dentist.