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Which toothpaste is the best?

Toothpaste, dentifrice, paste dentifrice. There are many different words used to describe toothpaste. Along with the words, there are hundreds of types and flavors of different toothpaste to choose from. Which toothpaste is the best? Which one helps with sensitivity? Do the whitening toothpastes actually help? Is there ingredients/toothpaste I should avoid if i get canker sores? Is there a toothpaste that helps with dry mouth? What about natural/professional toothpastes?  In this weeks blog, Toothpaste which one is best, we will cover all things toothpaste.

Which toothpaste is the best for me?

Which one is best for you will depend on your needs. There is toothpaste for whitening, bad breath, dry mouth, sensitivity, night time, day time… you get it. Toothpaste manufactures are smart, especially at marketing products. If you are over the age of six and like the way your teeth look and feel, I would recommend an ADA approved toothpaste with Fluoride (Sodium fluoride or Stannous fluoride). Products that have the ADA approval can be found here. If you have a child under 6, please use children toothpaste with a pea sized amount of the selected paste (I will have a future blog on pediatric care soon).

Which toothpaste helps with sensitivity?

We have all heard the commercial that starts out “9 out of 10 dentists recommend….”! Tooth sensitivity can happen for many different reasons. The best thing to do if your teeth are sensitive is talk to your dentist. If the sensitivity is caused by dentinal hypersensitivity or root sensitivity, sensitivity toothpaste should work for you. Effective sensitivity toothpaste contains 5% Potassium Nitrate, which is the active ingredient in decreasing the sensitivity. It works by blocking tubes in your teeth called dentinal tubules. These tubules lead to your nerve tissue and when stimulated by heat or cold contract and expand, causing the fluid contained in the tubules to elicit the nerve tissue causing discomfort.   A list of ADA approved sensitivity toothpaste can be found here.

Important things to note about sensitivity toothpastes:

  1. It takes at least two weeks for it to start working (preferably you would give it a month)
  2. You have to continue to use it to keep sensitivity levels down
  3. The right brand replaces your normal toothpaste
  4. It tastes a little different (the taste of potassium nitrate is difficult to mask)
  5. It has to have potassium nitrate to work properly

Do whitening toothpastes actually help?

This will depend on the type of staining and the reason behind it. Again, be sure to ask your dentist for their opinion. Rules of “tooth” for whitening are: if it’s surface staining, whitening toothpaste should work for you (tea, coffee or wine). For deep seated staining (which happens with smoking, tetracycline staining, fluorosis, etc.), whitening toothpaste will not traditionally work. Whitening toothpastes do not actually have whiteners (bleaching agents) in them and instead work via abrasive ingredients.  Look here for ADA approved whitening toothpastes. So do they help… yes, depending on what type of staining you have.

I’ve heard I should avoid certain toothpaste to avoid canker sores?

Canker sores, or apthous ulcer’s, are painful ulcers in your mouth. Unfortunately the cause of canker sores is really unknown. Luckily, they do typically resolve on their own over a period of 7-14 days. It should be noted that canker sores (apthous ulcers) are not the same thing as cold sores. (This is a type of herpes virus.

Although there are currently no scientific studies to show that toothpaste ingredients cause canker sores, some believe that avoiding a commonly used soap used in toothpastes called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), can help prevent new occurrences of outbreaks. This ingredient causes the foaming action in your toothpaste. SLS free toothpastes can be found here.

Is there toothpaste that can help with dry mouth?

A natural sweetener called Xylitol has been shown to help increase saliva flow to the mouth. The ADA recently gave its stamp of approval to Xylitol sweetened gum that can increase saliva flow and help fight cavities. Examples of chewing gum brands that use Xylitol can be found here. Xylitol is a natural substance found in plants, fruits and veggies. The best part of this sweetener is that oral plaque bacteria cannot ferment it (can’t eat it), so it doesn’t cause cavities!

What about natural toothpaste?

Natural toothpaste with fluoride is another great option for those that want an all natural product. Tom’s of Maine toothpaste is one example of a great product that includes fluoride. It should be noted that fluoride is naturally found in nature; however it is put in a salt form for application to teeth. Tom’s does a nice job explaining the ingredients in its toothpaste. This toothpaste has fluoride as a topical ingredient and is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate free!

I get a lot of cavities, what about a professional strength toothpaste?

Professional strength toothpaste is toothpaste that has a higher concentration of the active cavity fighting ingredient fluoride. An example of the brand we use is called ClinPro 5000. This toothpaste is only available by prescription and should not be used unless prescribed by your dentist. This toothpaste might be right for you if you are cavity prone and have a lot of dental work in your mouth. Ask if this may be right for you at your next appointment.

Summary: Which toothpaste is best?

As you can tell there are many, many options out there. It is important that you find toothpaste that is right for you and your family’s needs. If you’re still unsure which toothpaste is right for you, ask your dentist for help! Don’t forget to go to the “Ask the dentist” section of our website if you would like answers to your dental question… it may just be our next blog topic.

Keep Smiling Chicago

Kevin Dow


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