Choosing Which Toothpaste You Should Buy

Every day, people ask dentists what toothpaste they recommend. Today, there are more options than ever. Toothpaste manufacturers provide so many kinds of toothpaste for two reasons. First, people have different dental problems and benefit from different toothpastes. Another reason is marketing; more kinds of toothpaste mean more shelf space for that manufacturer. Colgate ( lists over 60 different kinds of over the counter toothpaste. All that toothpaste creates a big billboard right inside the local grocery store. That makes Colgate products much easier to find than Biotene which produces only two kinds of toothpaste.

The dentist will ask you what you need toothpaste for. People who use toothpaste clean their teeth by brushing and flossing them. The mechanical action of the brush and floss loosens plaque. Plaque is the bacterial coating that forms on teeth and causes gum disease and cavities. Rinsing with water washes the loose plaque away. Toothpaste must provide an addition benefit.

Procter and Gamble ( introduced fluoridated toothpaste with Crest in 1955. Now, most toothpaste contains fluoride. Fluoride from toothpaste seeps into the surface of teeth making them more resistant to decay. People who use toothpaste with fluoride get fewer cavities than those who do not.

For people who have a very high rate of decay, their dentist may prescribe toothpaste that has a higher concentration of fluoride. Such a high concentration is able to reverse very small decayed areas.

Young children who can not rinse and spit out should not use fluoridated toothpaste. They may swallow too much fluoride which may stain the permanent teeth. That is why some manufacturers market fluoride free toothpaste for children. Tom’s of Maine (, known for their “natural” oral health care products offers fluoride free, strawberry flavor toothpaste for children.

Many toothpastes contain ingredients that help fight gum disease chemically. Some reduce the presence of plaque more than brushing alone. Others use chemicals that lessen tarter or calculus formation. None of these toothpastes are able to removed tartar after it forms. Aquafresh (, Crest, Colgate and others brands offer “tartar control” editions of their popular toothpastes. Those patients who feel the need for more frequent professional dental cleaning may benefit from products like this.

There are many brands of toothpaste available for people with sensitive teeth. Sensodyne ( is the most well-known. Desensitizing toothpaste may take a few weeks to have a noticeable effect.

Before using desensitizing toothpaste, it is important to have a dentist check for the cause of the sensitivity. Tooth decay and broken fillings may cause teeth to be sensitive to cold and sweet. Toothpaste will not repair a filling.
Teeth that are sensitive due to gum recession or eroded enamel will become less sensitive with the use of these products. Brushing the wrong way or with a hard or medium brush can damage teeth and gums. Dental office staff members are happy to teach patients how to care for their teeth without causing damage.

Gastric reflux is a serious and common condition that can cause tooth decay and erosion (see “GERD, Its Like a Heatwave”, Malden Observer, April 15, 2005, available on Desensitizing toothpaste can make eroded teeth feel better, masking an important symptom of GERD.

Some people regularly suffer from canker sores or mouth ulcers. Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) is a foaming agent common to most toothpaste brands. SLS causes mouth ulcers in many people. There are a few companies that make SLS free toothpaste. The most well known brand of SLS free toothpaste is Biotene by Laclede ( Laclede only makes two toothpastes, Biotene regular and gel. For canker sufferers, Biotene is worth searching for among all the tubes of Crest, Colgate, Closeup, and Aquafresh.

Generic toothpaste may be a good value for smart shoppers. Compare the active and inactive ingredients to the toothpaste you prefer. Always look for the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance (
Natural toothpaste brands may be a good choice as well. Look for the ADA seal. Read and understand the nature of all of the ingredients.

Never use human toothpaste for dogs and cats. They need special toothpaste that they can swallow safely.

Finally, ask your dentist or your dental hygienist for their recommendations. After you, they know your teeth best and will be able to suggest the right product for you.

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