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An Easy Guide to Choosing the Right Toothpaste


Today we see a variety of toothpaste in supermarkets. It’s overwhelming! We are spoiled for choice. How do we choose our toothpaste? After all, we begin our day with it. Why is it important to choose your toothpaste carefully?

Indeed, choosing toothpaste can be sometimes confusing as there are many options available. Choosing the right type of toothpaste is important for maintaining good oral hygiene. Since most people brush their teeth regularly, the right kind of toothpaste will go a long way in maintaining oral health.

Broadly speaking, toothpaste contains ingredients that are abrasive agents, flavoring agents, humectants, thickeners, and detergents. Toothpaste is typically available in a gel or paste form, while some may be in powder or tablet forms. Irrespective of the form, toothpaste can be categorized based on their medicinal properties.

Some of the available toothpaste options are:

  • Children’s toothpaste
  • Fluoridated toothpaste
  • Whitening toothpaste
  • Sensitivity toothpaste
  • Tartar control toothpaste
  • Herbal toothpaste

Toothpaste for children

Kids toothpaste has bright colors such as red, a fruity smell, and attractive packaging to encourage brushing habits. Children above the age of six years often use adult toothpaste. For children, 1,500 parts per million (ppm) fluoride toothpaste helps in preventing caries as compared to non-fluoride toothpaste. For adults, the amount of fluoride in toothpaste is usually 1,000 ppm or more.

Children can get chronic fluorosis if they ingest high amounts of toothpaste. Keep their toothpaste out of their reach to avoid accidental ingestion. Also, it is crucial to train children to spit out toothpaste instead of swallowing it.

Toothpaste for healthy teeth

For healthy adults without any oral diseases such as gingivitis or caries, fluoridated toothpaste is a good option to maintain oral health. Fluoride makes teeth enamel stronger, which makes it less susceptible to damage from bacterial acids. Bacterial acids can de-mineralize teeth and cause cavities. Fluoride can help in remineralizing teeth to reverse the early stages of damage.

In many countries, drinking water is treated with fluoride to reduce the incidence of dental caries. This public health measure has proven to be beneficial and has reduced dental cavities. But even in the areas that have an adequate amount of fluoride in drinking water, fluoride toothpaste can help in making teeth further stronger.

Another option for healthy adults can be whitening toothpaste. Although teeth whitening can be done at the dentist’s office, many prefer at-home treatment using teeth whitening toothpaste. Whitening toothpaste helps in removing any extrinsic stains on the surfaces of teeth. These stains could be from smoking or drinking caffeinated beverages.

Whitening toothpaste contains bleaching agents such as silica, pyrophosphates, and hydrogen peroxide. Some of these agents may be abrasive and cause irritation in or around the mouth. Consult your dentist if you experience any such symptoms. Whitening toothpaste is not useful for any intrinsic lesions such as caries.

Toothpaste for dentin hypersensitivity

When people experience dental pain due to exposure to dentin, it’s called dentin hypersensitivity. Sometimes patients are unable to have hot or cold items such as coffee or ice cream. Consult your dentist if you are experiencing dental pain on touch or any other stimulus.

For desensitization, several dental products such as chewing gums and mouthwashes are available. People most commonly use toothpaste containing potassium and fluoride. Toothpaste containing strontium chloride, calcium carbonate or arginine are popular too. Research has shown that dental pain reduces after using desensitizing toothpaste for at least eight weeks.

Toothpaste for tartar control

Harmful oral bacteria cause a biofilm on the teeth, leading to dental plaque. When salivary calcium and phosphate get trapped in the biofilm, they can get crystallized to form dental tartar or calculus. Dental hygienists can remove tartar during preventative care visits. But for at-home care, tartar control toothpaste may be beneficial. These toothpastes contain ingredients such as zinc citrate and antibiotics (triclosan) for tartar control.

Herbal toothpaste

Instead of synthetic active ingredients, some toothpastes contain extracts from natural herbs and plants. The most common ingredients in herbal toothpastes are clove, cinnamon, spearmint, miswak, charcoal powder, and Azadirachta indica (neem). Research has provided preliminary evidence that herbal toothpastes are as effective as non-herbal toothpastes in reducing dental plaque and gingivitis. However, more scientific studies are needed to draw further conclusions.

Many herbal toothpastes are also made in an eco-friendly manner i.e., instead of using a traditional tube, they are packaged in cans, bottles, or compostable wrappers. These containers can be recycled or upcycled after using the toothpaste.

Conclusion

If you need to choose your toothpaste quickly, pick toothpaste that has the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of acceptance. The ADA seal of acceptance indicates that the product was independently evaluated by experts and found to be safe and effective. Toothpaste with the ADA seal of acceptance does not contain any sugar or flavoring agents that cause tooth decay, and they must contain fluoride.

Generally, your dental hygienist will recommend toothpaste during preventative care visits. Talk to your dental hygienist/dentist about any special concerns that you may have. Choose toothpaste right for you because that is one easy way to maintain oral health.

Key takeaways

Given the variety of toothpastes available, choosing toothpaste can be confusing.

If you have no dental conditions, fluoride toothpaste might be sufficient.

If you have any dental conditions such as gum disease or hypersensitivity, talk to your dentist and they will recommend toothpaste for your situation.

Pick toothpaste that has the ADA seal of acceptance, which indicates its safety and effectiveness.

Resources:

Jamwal, N. Rao, A., Shenoy, R., Pai, M., et. al. (2022). Effect of Whitening Toothpaste on Surface Roughness and Microhardness of Human Teeth: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. F1000Res.

Mason, S., Burnett, G.R., Patel, N., Patil, A., Maclure, R. (2019). Impact of Toothpaste on Oral Health-Related Quality of Life in People with Dentine Hypersensitivity. BMC Oral Health.

Stovell, A.G., Newton, B.M., and Lynch, R.J.M. (2013). Important Considerations in the Development of Toothpaste Formulations for Children. International Dental Journal.

Thornton-Evans, G., Junger, M.L., Lin, M., et. al. (2019). Use of Toothpaste and Toothbrushing Patterns among Children and Adolescents - United States, 2013-2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep.

Topping, G., Assaf, A. (2005). Strong Evidence That Daily Use of Fluoride Toothpaste Prevents Caries. Evidence-Based Dentistry.

Walsh, T., Worthington, H.V., Glenny, A.M., et. al. (2019). Fluoride Toothpastes of Different Concentrations for Preventing Dental Caries. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

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