You’ve brushed your teeth your whole life and might still have a difficult time trying to decide the right kind of toothpaste to buy. With so many different varieties, flavors, and formulas, it’s not an easy choice.
Generally speaking, toothpaste is nothing to get too stressed about. As long as you like your toothpaste because of the taste, the foaminess, the packaging or whatever other reason and you feel encouraged to brush, that can be a good enough reason to buy it.
Good dental hygiene depends only a little on the right toothpaste. Things that are typically more important are the frequency and thoroughness of brushing, how often you floss, and regular dental visits. The particular toothpaste you choose is a relatively minor component in the grand scheme of oral health. Still, there is a dizzying array of choices in any toothpaste aisle, and this general overview should help guide you:
Some packages make prominent claims about fighting cavities, but brushing your teeth regularly with any toothpaste (or even none at all) will help fight cavities. It’s ultimately the act of brushing that removes plaque from your teeth. But fluoride, an active ingredient in toothpastes with cavity-fighting claims, does help fight tooth decay while strengthening teeth and protecting enamel.
If you have young children, however, you may not want them to use fluoride toothpastes. Fluoride can be harmful if swallowed, causing a cosmetic condition called fluorosis. Encourage your children to rinse and spit after brushing, and you can also find fluoride-free formulas for children. These products are often called “toddler” or “training” toothpastes.
If you’re looking for help to whiten your teeth, you may turn to toothpaste with whitening claims. Using a whitening toothpaste, though, doesn’t work nearly as well as purchasing a whitening kit or receiving treatments from your dentist. At most, they will help you fight off any new staining from occurring and some discoloration.
If you have had issues with gingivitis, then you may want to consider an antibacterial toothpaste. They include an ingredient called triclosan that helps fight off bacterial infections. Though triclosan is generally considered effective, some professionals aren’t entirely convinced that it works all that well. Try it if you like, but ongoing problems with gingivitis should be treated under the guidance of a dental professional.
For those who gravitate to products with natural ingredients, you probably already know you can find natural toothpastes in most stores. These formulas favor ingredients such as aloe or peppermint oil and often leave out the fluoride…but not always. Check the label if that’s important to you. Natural toothpaste flavors also tend to be less sweet than mainstream brands.
Many people have teeth that are overly sensitive to hot and cold food. This condition can make consuming anything from ice cream cones to hot tea uncomfortable or even painful. Toothpastes for sensitive teeth help block the nerves that cause this discomfort.
Toothpaste is a major consumer category, and dozens of companies offer dozens of varieties. Often there is not much of a difference between all of the options, so the best toothpaste in the end is the one you just happen to like.