Which Toothpaste Is Best?

Couple brushing teeth in the bathroomThe question all of us face while walking up and down the toothpaste aisle at the supermarket. 

With so many options to choose from, which is best? – or are they all just as good? – or does it matter? 

Let’s first review the popular kinds of toothpaste.

Tartar Control Toothpaste

Tartar, or calculus, is calcified plaque that adheres to the tooth.  It can’t be removed by brushing alone and must be professionally removed by your dentist or hygienist.  Tartar control toothpastes can prevent new tartar from forming on teeth, but can NOT remove the tartar already present.  This may be an option if you suffer from excessive tartar build up. 

The Good:  It can help control NEW tartar ABOVE the gum line.

The Bad:  Some people experience a reaction to the active ingredient, including sloughing of the cheeks, canker sores, and tooth sensitivity.

Baking Soda Toothpaste

Many people are huge fans of this type of toothpaste because of how clean their teeth feel after using it.  Baking soda is usually mixed with peroxide, providing an abrasive combination that can really get teeth feeling clean – although no research claims that cavity reduction is any different than other toothpastes.

The Good:  The flavor and smooth feeling of the teeth may make people brush longer and more often.

The Bad:  The abrasiveness can cause tooth erosion and gum recession, especially if combined with a hard-bristled toothbrush.   Also, as discussed earlier, these ingredients may cause irritation to the gums and cheek.

Desensitizing Toothpaste

There are two main ingredients the ADA recognizes to help reduce sensitivity: strontium chloride and potassium nitrate.  These work by blocking the tube-like channels that pass through teeth and connect to nerves.  If you have gum recession or erosive lesions that cause sensitivity to hot or cold, this may be the option for you.  If sensitivity persists, see your dentist. 

The Good:  Helps to eliminate sensitivity.

The Bad:  It may take 4-6 weeks to start working and only works in 80 – 85% of the population.

Whitening Toothpaste

The abrasiveness of these can help remove surface stains, but does little for internal stains.  For better results, you can use in combination with bleaching trays.  Check out our site for information on our new and improved bleaching technique.

The Good:  May see minimal results with removal of surface stains.

The Bad:  See above – minimal results.  Also, the abrasive nature can cause gum recession and erosive lesions, and gum and cheek irritation may arise.

Which Toothpaste is Best – FOR YOU?

This is the real question – which toothpaste fits your needs?  The minimum requirements of a good toothpaste are that it contains fluoride and has the ADA Seal of Acceptance.  If you are suffering from gum and cheek irritation, it could be caused by the additives in certain toothpastes.  In this case, choose one with the fewest additives – like a children’s toothpaste.  If the whitening or baking soda toothpaste is your thing, I would recommend not using it everytime you brush.  Maybe try it every other day to decrease the risk of tooth erosion and gum recession from the hard abrasives.  The choice ultimately comes down to personal preference – pick what you like but know the downsides, then make adjustments.

Other Frequently Asked Questions:

Is Toothpaste Even Necessary?

My answer would be YES.  Even though you can remove plaque just as well with only a brush and water, toothpaste offers more cleaning abilility through mild abrasives along with additional fluoride which is always a good thing. 

How Much Toothpaste Should I Give My Child?

A pea-sized amount is sufficient for children 7 years old and below.  This is to reduce the risk of fluoride overdose if swallowed.   

Paste or Gels?

Gels can be more abrasive, but both are effective.  The choice comes down to personal preference.

Related Articles:

What Every Mom Should Know About Pregnancy and Oral Health

Is Gum Good For Your Teeth?

Which Toothbrush Should I Choose?

7 Tips For Handling Dental Emergencies

The Link Between the Mouth and the Body

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