The best way to choose a toothpaste is to ask for a recommendation from your dentist—they will know your needs the best—but here are some tips for choosing a toothpaste yourself!
What Is Toothpaste?
Toothpastes are gels, pastes or powders that help remove plaque from teeth. They are made of made of small abrasive particles (like silicates & salts), fluoride, humectants (used to keep the paste moist), thickeners (like natural gums, cellulose or seaweed), detergents (for foaming action) & flavoring agents. Different toothpastes do different things—like whitening, preventing gum disease & protecting sensitive teeth—but all ADA complying toothpastes contain fluoride.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps keep teeth clean & tooth enamel strong by making it more resistant to acids that decay your teeth. Fluoride can be found in tea, wine, raisins, potatoes, lamb & carrots! Some communities also put a safe amount in their tap water. Before water fluoridation, children had about three times as many cavities!
The fluoride you get from food, water & toothpastes is applied topically to your teeth & becomes part of your saliva, which means your teeth get constantly bathed in fluoride throughout the day. It’s a great way to prevent tooth decay & strengthen your enamel.
In addition to fluoride in toothpaste & in drinking water, you dentist may suggest an in-office topical fluoride treatment. This treatment is usually recommended for children, but can also be performed on adults.
Types of Toothpastes
Different toothpastes contain different things to affect the teeth in specific ways. Some toothpastes contain ingredients to reduce tooth sensitivity, to help reduce gingivitis, to remove tartar (a build up of hardened plaque) or to whiten teeth by removing surface stains. You can even find fruit-flavored toothpastes to encourage your children to develop good brushing habits!
Make sure to always use toothpaste with fluoride in it to help prevent tooth decay, but you can find toothpastes with additional ingredients to do all of the above! Ask your dentist which toothpaste is best for your smile.