The toothpaste aisle of your local drug store can be very confusing. There are so many brands and variations to choose from! Dr. Magid breaks down what you need to know to choose the right type of toothpaste in our latest blog post.
Does it matter what kind of toothpaste I buy?
“Natural” brands are okay, but look for one with fluoride in it. Not using fluoride can have damaging, painful and costly consequences. Fluoride is completely safe when used topically, and in controlled concentrations when ingested such as tap water and supplements. What this means is that all adults and children who are old enough to reliably spit the excess toothpaste out, should be using fluoride toothpaste. For patients with a high cavity rate, we often recommend a prescription level fluoride toothpaste to help prevent further decay. Again, as long as you don’t eat the toothpaste for breakfast it only sits on your teeth, helping to make your teeth stronger and remineralize them safely.
What are the upsides and downsides of different types of toothpaste?
Most whitening toothpastes have abrasives that remove surface stains rather than actually bleach your teeth.
Sensitive toothpaste can be helpful for non-lingering cold and sweet sensitivity. It may take a few weeks of continual use for them to be effective. However, if the problem persists or there are other symptoms, it is important to see your dentist to rule out other sources of the discomfort.
The ADA seal on some toothpaste means that statements and claims made on that version of paste have been approved by the organization. Some people have a sensitivity to an ingredient which can be found in many toothpastes. The ingredient is called SLS, sodium lauryl sulfate, and can cause mouth sores in those who are allergic to this ingredient. Read the list of inactive ingredients to look for it, even in seemingly “natural” product lines. However, if a sore does not go away after two weeks or they keep recurring despite switching toothpaste, see your dentist for evaluation.
What is the primary ingredient that makes toothpaste effective?
Triclosan is an ingredient in some toothpaste, such as Colgate Total. It targets the bacteria that cause gum disease and can be effective in combatting gum disease. As in all adult toothpastes, excess should be spit out so that large amounts are not ingested.
Where does toothpaste choice rank in level of importance when brushing your teeth?
As long as the toothpaste meets your requirements for ingredients, the rest comes down to personal preference, feel and flavor, whatever will make you more likely to brush morning and night. No matter how good your toothpaste is, care should be taken to brush the debris from all surfaces of your teeth. Be sure to gently brush by the gum line, both tongue-side and cheek-side, and on the chewing surfaces. It should take about two minutes to thoroughly brush all surfaces of your teeth. Keep in mind that it is not necessary to brush hard, what matters is that you reach all areas. Floss daily to get the build-up between the teeth and stimulate the gums. And don’t forget to have your teeth checked (screened for cavities, infection, and oral cancer) and professionally cleaned (there are areas that you may not be able to reach and hard build-up that we can take care of for you) at least every six months!