It seems like a simple task: choosing the best toothpaste for you.
But, it can be overwhelming with the number of choices available, the varying purposes, and the range of prices. The tendency is to pick out the nearest or cheapest choice (or both!), pay for it, and leave the store.
It’s critical to first consider any dental needs you have that could determine what you need in toothpaste. Do you have highly sensitive teeth, for example? Do you have gum disease? Dentures? Each person’s situation is unique, so discuss this with your dentist at your next routine dental exam. This is all part of your daily oral health routine to keep your teeth healthy throughout your life.
Choosing the right toothpaste for your needs shouldn’t be stressful or confusing. In this article, we will outline exactly how to choose the best toothpaste for you.
Questions to Ask Before Buying Toothpaste
After getting some advice from your dentist, there are a couple of important questions to consider the next time you buy toothpaste:
What Are Your Goals for Your Toothpaste?
This is the main question to ask. If you are clear on what you want your toothpaste to do, you can narrow down the hundreds of choices to a manageable number. Do you want whitening power? Anti-plaque or anti-cavity? Do you need a toothpaste for sensitive teeth?
Once you have your goals in mind, you can eliminate even more choices by asking yourself the following questions.
Is the Toothpaste Approved by the ADA?
Any toothpaste you choose should be approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). The ADA requires ingredients that do one of the following: whiten teeth, reduce gingivitis, prevent bad breath, defend against erosion, or help with tooth sensitivity. The active ingredients will be listed on the box along with what each ingredient does.
Some products do not meet the ADA’s requirements, as not every dental product submitted qualifies for the ADA Seal. Clinical and/or laboratory studies that prove a product’s safety according to the appropriate category requirements must be met to qualify.
Even then, the ADA Seal is only awarded for five years at a time. And if any of the ingredients change during that time, the manufacturer must submit its data again. Additional testing may be required if any of those changes could affect the product’s safety or efficacy.
What Are All the Other Ingredients?
Any toothpaste you use will be ingested to some degree or absorbed into your body through your mouth. If you need to avoid certain ingredients for whatever reason, you need to know whether it’s in any product you eat or drink. Or, as you saw earlier in this article, you may need a particular ingredient to satisfy your reasons for choosing one toothpaste over another. Read all labels and ingredients carefully so you can make educated decisions.
Here are some of the most common ingredients included in toothpaste along with their function:
- Potassium nitrate has a desensitizing effect.
- Strontium chloride also has a desensitizing effect.
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) helps rid teeth of bacteria, food, and plaque but can also cause sensitivity and mouth ulcers.
- Triclosan fights bacteria in your mouth but there is evidence it contributes to bacteria resistance to antibiotics and has been identified as a hormone disruptor.
- Xylitol helps prevent the buildup of plaque on your teeth.
- Stannous fluoride acts to prevent plaque and bacteria in the mouth as well as providing cavity protection.
- Sodium fluoride defends against cavities.
As you can see, some of these ingredients have both positive and negative effects. It’s up to you, with your dentist’s help, to know what you are putting in your body and how it may affect your overall health.
Does the Toothpaste Have Fluoride In It?
Most dentists routinely recommend oral health products that contain fluoride. It prevents tooth decay and removes plaque on your teeth. Toothpaste containing fluoride will usually highlight that fact on the box and product.
What Does It Taste Like?
Obviously, you can’t test it in the store before you buy it. But, you can research reviews of any toothpaste to read what others have said about it and get a pretty good idea.
It’s important you like the taste of your toothpaste. If you don’t like it, you are less likely to use it as often as you should. This is especially true for children.
The same is true of the texture. Make sure any toothpaste you choose is smooth, not gritty. A toothpaste should not be abrasive to the enamel on your teeth.
What Did Your Dentist Recommend for You?
Your dentist knows your oral health history and is the best resource for suggestions. If you have sensitive teeth, gum disease, dentures, or some other condition, it’s important to use products that address them rather than make them worse or cause additional problems. Ask your dentist about the best options for you.
How to Know When You Are Reacting to a Toothpaste
Yes, this is a possibility and is another important reason for making a careful selection when you purchase toothpaste.
After brushing your teeth, if you find white stringy material in your mouth, you may be having a reaction to your toothpaste. In this case, the toothpaste is too harsh for your mouth or your saliva is reacting to an ingredient in the toothpaste. The cells lining your cheeks are sloughing off, creating the white, stringy material. This reaction can last for up to an hour after brushing, even if you rinsed. Discontinue use immediately and find a less harsh toothpaste.
Determining the Best Toothpaste For Your Mouth
Doing this properly can be a bit more complicated than it first appears. But, as we’ve outlined above, there are some specific guidelines to keep in mind to make it less stressful.
It’s always important that it is ADA-approved, doesn’t contain harmful ingredients, tastes and feels good in your mouth, has fluoride added, and targets your personal oral health needs. Now, you can make your choice with assurance.
Your dental team here at Wilmington Dental Associates is happy to answer any questions you have about the best toothpaste for you. Schedule an appointment for your next routine dental exam and discuss it with our hygienists and the dentist. Then, you’ll have the best information available to you.
Contact us today!