We are sure you have all been there – staring down the aisle at the pharmacy/supermarket – wondering which toothpaste should I buy?
It seems like there are thousands of options, all claiming something different from “eliminates cavities” to “best whitening toothpaste ever”. So we are here to help you with what to choose.
Prices can vary significantly amongst the kinds of toothpaste too. Whichever you choose to go for after reading this guide our advice is to not scrimp on the toothbrush. We know electric toothbrushes clean teeth and remove plaque to a much better degree than manual toothbrushes. Research has shown people are more motivated to brush their teeth for the correct period of time (at least 2 minutes) if they have an electric toothbrush.
The question of what toothpaste I should use is one we get on almost a daily basis. Our answer is usually a simple one – whichever tastes the best to you and, most importantly, has fluoride in it! Fluoride makes tooth enamel more resistant to acid attack and in turn decay, and most of the cheaper, own-brand toothpastes have about the same amount as the expensive makes.
The point we are trying to convey is that as long as the toothpaste has fluoride in it and you are brushing with proper technique and frequency, then the other features of the toothpaste are less important. Admittedly, this is a rather simplistic answer so let us explain in more detail what the different types of toothpastes will do for you.
For those of you interested in exactly what each ingredient in your toothpaste does here is a link to the British Dental Health Foundation Glossary of common Dental Product Ingredients
Ah! we’ll start with the most exciting topic – whitening toothpastes. We’ve all tried them with hopes of having that glowing white hollywood smile only to be disappointed by, at best, mild results. Whitening toothpastes, although a fantastic marketing strategy, are not quite what they make themselves out to be. These kind of toothpastes, “whiten” by simply removing surface stains with abrasives. There is no actual whitening of your existing teeth like a professional whitening can produce. They contain more abrasive compounds, sometimes baking soda, that clean stains off slightly better than other toothpastes.
For many people, the cause of their discolored teeth is actually internal darkening of tooth structure as opposed to surface staining. Whitening toothpastes will have no effect on that kind of discoloration. Where they are effective, however, are in those patients that have habits that cause surface staining on their teeth.
These habits include smoking and/or drinking large amounts of tea, wine or dark sodas. If you feel that your teeth are stained because of one of these things then a whitening toothpaste may work for you. However do be aware that it is working by being more abrasive, in general, than non whitening toothpastes.
Anti-Cavity or Remineralizes Enamel
If only it were so simple! Many toothpastes will claim to have anti-cavity properties or the ability to remineralize enamel. In reality, it is only the fluoride that allows them to make these claims and since nearly every toothpaste has fluoride then they are all “anti-cavity” and they all remineralize enamel. This is what fluoride does whether it is in your toothpaste, your water or applied at the office. Enamel cannot be regrown, yet,(although we are sure we will see something of the sort in the coming decades!) so once it is lost it is gone forever. We can make our enamel stronger using a fluoride toothpaste regularly and weakened enamel could benefit from having fluoride professionally applied to the teeth. This is dependant on the individual.
These toothpastes have ingredients like zinc citrate or pyrophosphates that can help reduce the build-up of hardened plaque, known as tartar. This is only the case above the gums where the toothpaste contacts tooth, but, unfortunately, it is the tartar under the gums that we are most concerned about. This, below the gum tartar, is what leads to periodontal disease. In addition, once tartar is formed, it can only be removed by professional cleaning.
This is a category of toothpaste that we do often recommend, as they have proven time and time again to be effective in reducing mild cold sensitivity. These toothpastes have salts like potassium nitrate that help occlude porous areas of the tooth and prevent temperature changes from reaching the nerve. If your sensitivity is extreme to begin with or doesn’t subside after a week of use, please make an appointment as it could be a sign of a more serious problem.
Natural toothpastes usually mean that they are free of added color, artificial flavors and other synthetic chemicals. These toothpastes can be fine to use; however they often don’t have fluoride in them, so it is important to check the box for the presence of fluoride if you are considering using a Natural toothpaste.
If you are simply looking for a good all around toothpaste to look after your teeth you would do well with the bigger name brands although they may be more expensive they do have years of research to back their products. Colgate Total and Oral B Pro Expert fit this category quite well.
If you have any questions about which toothpaste is most appropriate for you, don’t hesitate to ask at your next visit! See you soon!