What Should You Look for in a Toothpaste?
March 29, 2022
Walk into a retailer to shop for toothpaste, and you’ll see shelves and shelves of options. Despite the choices, there are only five main types of toothpaste.
Within those five categories are dozens of other options. It can make shopping for toothpaste challenging. You might see herbal, charcoal, or baking soda toothpaste choices. How are you supposed to decide what’s best and what you should look for in the toothpaste you buy?
- Children’s Toothpaste
- Fluoride Toothpaste
- Sensitivity Toothpaste
- Tartar Control Toothpaste
- Tooth Whitening Toothpaste
The Top Ingredient Your Toothpaste Must Have
If your toothpaste doesn’t have fluoride, skip it. The American Dental Association will not put a seal of approval on a toothpaste unless it contains fluoride. If the toothpaste you’re about to purchase doesn’t have an ADA Seal of Acceptance, it likely is missing fluoride.
When you’re reading labels to ensure the toothpaste contains fluoride, you might see it number the name sodium fluoride, sodium monofluorophosphate, or stannous fluoride. Toothpaste is usually between 0.22% and 0.312%. Prescription fluoride toothpaste may have 1.1%. Your dentist may recommend a prescription fluoride toothpaste if your teeth are weak and you’re prone to tooth decay.
Not every toothpaste contains fluoride. Herbal toothpaste may skip fluoride. Some people worry about ingesting too much fluoride if they’re on city water with added fluoride vs. a well with no fluoride. As fluoride is essential for strengthening enamel, be careful using no-fluoride toothpaste.
It’s the fluoride you’re looking at when you shop for toothpaste. The best choices for your needs depend on your oral health. You want something stronger than children’s toothpaste if you have gum disease. Your toddler probably doesn’t need tartar control toothpaste. Here are the five types of toothpaste and the pros and cons of each.
Baby teeth do not need the same level of fluoride that an adult needs. Too much fluoride can stain developing teeth, a condition called dental fluorosis. Children’s toothpaste contains less fluoride than adult toothpaste.
In addition, children’s toothpaste is often flavored and colored to be appealing to children. It may contain edible glitter and come in tempting flavors like bubblegum, strawberry, or watermelon. Children’s toothpaste also comes in bright colors that children love. The goal is to get them excited to brush their teeth each day.
- Low fluoride
- Fun colors and flavors
- Designed for developing teeth and extremely healthy teeth
Toothpaste should contain fluoride, and the amount depends on the brand and formula. In addition to fluoride, these toothpaste options may include other ingredients to make them more appealing to buyers.
Baking soda and peroxide toothpaste is popular with people who want the peroxide to kill germs and baking soda for whitening. Do they work well? Most people don’t notice much difference when it comes to whitening. Baking soda can be abrasive and damage enamel, so it may not help as much as you think. If the color of your teeth bothers you, talk to your dentist about professional teeth whitening.
Charcoal toothpaste started trending a few years ago. It’s believed that activated charcoal helps lift stains and whiten teeth. Charcoal is also antiviral, making people feel that they’re killing more of the germs that cause plaque. The American Dental Association hasn’t found evidence that charcoal toothpaste is effective, so you may waste your money if you opt for this type of toothpaste.
Toothpaste options include gel and paste, and your personal preference matters. If you find gel toothpaste is too thin for your liking, switch to a paste. If you prefer a thinner toothpaste, try gel formulations.
- Fluoride protects enamel, which protects against cavities
- A range of flavors, styles, and formals
- Standard levels of fluoride may not be enough if you have gum disease
What causes sensitive teeth? Usually, the enamel is weakening and allowing cold and hot foods to reach the dentin and nerves. Enamel may weaken due to hard brushing, excessive acidic foods, acidic mouthwashes, receding gums, and attempts to whiten your teeth at home. Due to years of acidic foods and beverages, the natural process of aging may lead to sensitive teeth.
Home teeth whitening kits can be harsh on the enamel. That’s why you should go to a dentist for professional tooth whitening. In addition to weakened enamel, sensitive teeth may result from a crack or chipped tooth, receding gums, fillings, or excessive plaque.
The goal of sensitive toothpaste is to strengthen enamel and ease nerve pain. To do this, fluoride helps strengthen the enamel, while potassium nitrate helps buffer some pain. Is it the best way to end sensitivity? It helps, but more permanent solutions include mouth guards if you grind your teeth at night, veneers, and dental bonding.
- Sensitive formulas mask the pain that may keep you from investigating the cause
- Some formulas contain abrasive materials
- A prescription formula may be better and is worth talking to your dentist about
Tartar Control Toothpaste
Gingivitis (mild gum disease) is a leading problem in older adults. In fact, the CDC reports that 46% of adults over the age of 30 have some level of gum disease. Tartar control toothpaste helps prevent tartar build-up, which leads to gingivitis.
A tartar control toothpaste has a higher level of stannous fluoride than most toothpaste. Stannous fluoride helps remove plaque bacteria and strengthens enamel. Look for toothpaste brands that boast gum detoxification or gingivitis protection. They usually contain 0.454% stannous fluoride.
- Prescription toothpaste often provides higher levels of fluoride
- Tartar control toothpaste shouldn’t replace dental cleanings
- Triclosan can be effective at stopping plaque bacteria
Whitening toothpaste contains ingredients that whiten or bleach the teeth. Peroxide is one of them. This type of toothpaste can give you false hope in thinking that weeks of brushing will restore a Hollywood white smile. Realistically, bleaching agents used at home can damage enamel and weaken teeth.
Abrasive materials like baking soda or charcoal are often used to clean and whiten teeth. They’re going to damage the enamel over time. If you use whitening toothpaste, you need to limit the use to once a week or every few days.
Another thing to consider is that whitening toothpaste can remove stains on the surface of the enamel, but it won’t work on significant stains. If you had too much fluoride or tetracycline as a child, whitening toothpaste is not going to help you.
Talk to your dentist. Jody Jones DDS is happy to talk to you about professional teeth whitening services that are more effective than tooth whitening toothpaste. If you have weak enamel, Dr. Jones works with you on the best ways to strengthen your teeth. Not sure what’s best for your needs? Our team educates you on the best toothpaste for your needs. Contact us to schedule a consultation.
- Abrasive ingredients damage enamel
- Will not remove all stains
- Whitening agents can weaken enamel