Weighing Your Toothpaste Options
Tartar Control Toothpaste
There are many tartar control toothpastes on the market, most of which contain fluoride.
Everyone has a layer of bacteria on their teeth called plaque. If plaque isn't removed promptly with proper oral hygiene, it hardens into tartar. This hard-to-remove deposit can build up on your teeth and under your gums, ultimately leading to gum disease.
There are a variety of ingredients used in toothpaste to help prevent the buildup of tartar on the teeth. Chemical compounds, including pyrophosphates and zinc citrate, are often added and have been proven effective. Additionally, some tartar control toothpastes contain an antibiotic called triclosan, which kills some of the bacteria in the mouth.
Certain toothpastes containing multiple anti-plaque agents have been demonstrated to be even more effective at tartar control than varieties with only one plaque fighter.
Toothpastes for Sensitive Teeth
For people who have teeth that are easily irritated -- for instance, by hot or cold temperatures -- there are toothpastes available that are made for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes usually contain potassium nitrate or strontium chloride. These chemical compounds, which can take up to 4 weeks to offer relief, help tooth sensitivity by blocking pathways through the teeth that attach to nerves inside the teeth.
To help people on a quest for pearly whites, many whitening toothpastes are now being marketed for everyday use.
Whitening toothpastes do not typically contain bleaches. Instead, they contain abrasive particles or chemicals that effectively polish the teeth or bind to stains and help pull them off the tooth surface.
Although you might be concerned that the abrasiveness of whitening toothpaste could damage your teeth, studies suggest that whitening toothpastes are no harder on tooth enamel than other types of toothpaste.
Tips for Choosing a Toothpaste
Here are some tips to help you choose the best toothpaste to meet your family's dental needs:
- Opt for ADA approval. Whatever your toothpaste needs, be sure to choose toothpaste that has earned an American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval. Toothpastes that have earned this distinction have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness by an independent review board of scientific experts. All toothpastes earning the ADA seal contain fluoride -- the most important ingredient in any toothpaste.
- Be wary of imposters. In 2007, some toothpastes imported from China were found to contain a toxic substance, diethylene glycol. The FDA advises against choosing toothpaste that says it was made in China.
- Consider your needs and the needs of your family members. As long as you select a fluoride-containing toothpaste, the best toothpaste is a matter of personal choice and preference. If you're committed to an all-natural lifestyle, you may want to opt for ADA-approved toothpastes that contain only natural ingredients. For people trying to instill good oral hygiene habits in your children, why not choose fruit-flavored toothpastes with sparkles to entice them to brush their teeth? Some people are eager to restore whiteness to their teeth with whitening toothpastes. Others like the feeling of brushing their teeth with toothpaste containing hydrogen peroxide or baking soda.
With so many options and combinations available, you can try different brands, varieties, and flavors to find the best toothpaste for you.