Perhaps you are a label-reader, trying to sort out the ingredient lists on every toothpaste tube. Maybe you still use the same toothpaste you used in childhood. Perhaps you simply grab the least expensive tube you can find. No matter what your current toothpaste shopping habits are, understanding the facts behind the toothpaste hype can make you a more informed consumer who knows how to choose toothpaste just right for you and your family.
1. Fluoride is considered important by many dentists.
Virtually all toothpaste sold in the United States contains fluoride. According to the American Dental Association’s website, brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste is a basic of oral hygiene and health, due to fluoride toothpaste’s proven cavity fighting properties. Several different fluoride formulations are available, all of which appear to be similar in cavity-fighting ability and safety.
However, many natural toothpaste formulations do not contain fluoride, citing studies in Better Nutrition and the American Journal of Pediatrics that seem to show problems associated with fluoride. According to the American Dental Association’s website, fluoride mouth rinses are not recommended for children under six, although the site continues to recommend fluoride toothpaste.
2. Consult your dentist about any specific dental problems you may experience.
Your dentist may recommend a specific category of toothpaste, such as desensitizing or whitening, depending on your needs. You may purchase any toothpaste you like within that category, but certain toothpaste types are considered better for certain dental issues. Also heed any recommendations from your dentist regarding types of toothpaste to avoid.
3. Avoid whitening toothpaste if you have sensitive teeth.
Whitening toothpastes contain ingredients that are powerful to provide a brighter smile. These toothpastes are generally safe and effective. If you have sensitive teeth, however, these chemical agents may cause irritation or a worsening of your symptoms. Talk to your dentist about whitening alternatives that will be gentle enough for your teeth.
4. Read the label carefully.
Some toothpastes are indicated for use only by adults and older children. Other toothpastes recommend consulting a dentist before using for longer than a specified period. Be sure to read and follow any instructions on the toothpaste label.
You should also look at the list of ingredients. Most toothpaste contains flavoring, sweeteners and other chemical ingredients. Remember that the more ingredients the toothpaste contains, the more chances there are for you to be sensitive to a particular ingredient. Be sure that you understand what each ingredient is.
5. Baking soda toothpaste is gentle and effective.
According to MyOralHealth.com, baking soda has a lower abrasive quality than many of the cleaning agents found in other toothpastes. If your teeth are sensitive or prone to cavities, you may find that baking soda toothpaste gives you the same clean feeling without the harshness that you may have experienced in the past. Additionally, baking soda is commonly used in cleaning and deodorizing products due to its ability to absorb odors and neutralize acids. These properties also make baking soda toothpaste highly effective. The substance’s use in a variety of recipes demonstrates its safety as well.
6. Understand what you are getting when buying or making natural toothpaste.
Many natural types of toothpaste do not contain fluoride. Fluoride is a toothpaste ingredient that is highly recommended by the ADA due to its proven cavity-fighting ability. However, some holistic dentists are starting to question whether fluoride is entirely safe. According to an article by Janet Francisco published in Better Nutrition, excessive use of fluoride by small children has been shown to discolor teeth. The American Journal of Pediatrics recommended in its May 1995 issue that infants not be exposed to fluoride. You will need to make the decision on whether a natural toothpaste without fluoride is right for your family.
Be sure that you understand the ingredients that are included in any natural toothpaste that you are considering. Baking soda and salt pastes use food-grade ingredients and can therefore be considered safe. However, natural toothpaste falls into the same category as herbal supplements. These products may not contain ingredients that have been proven unsafe, but they may contain ingredients that have not yet been proven safe.
Since natural toothpaste is not fully regulated by the FDA, it is crucial that you read the label and conduct your own research as to the safety and efficacy of each ingredient. When conducting your research, take into account that the quantities of each ingredient are not standardized in natural toothpaste.
7. Look for ADA approval.
Many types of toothpaste carry the ADA seal of acceptance. Toothpaste with this seal is guaranteed to meet the stringent requirements of the American Dental Association. Participation in the program is strictly voluntary, however, and many good toothpaste brands do not carry the seal. Therefore, you should not use the ADA seal as your only criterion for choosing toothpaste.
8. Not every toothpaste is right for every person.
Everyone’s body chemistry is different. You may find that a particular toothpaste does not make your mouth feel as clean or refreshed as you would like. You may become sensitive to a certain ingredient. If you experience these or other symptoms, try changing brands or types of toothpaste. Of course, if you have an allergic reaction or experience continuing symptoms, you should seek medical assistance right away.
9. Avoid heavily sweetened toothpaste.
An excess of sugar can contribute to tooth decay as well as other health problems. Some sugar is perhaps acceptable, but it is a good idea to try to avoid those toothpastes that are extremely sweet. Or consider a toothpaste that is artificially sweetened. Many children’s toothpastes are especially high in sugar, so be sure to keep an eye on their labels.
10. Talk to your dentist about additional oral hygiene techniques.
The proper toothpaste is a necessary and important part of healthy oral hygiene. However, toothpaste alone is not enough. According to the ADA’s website, proper brushing should be accompanied by flossing and antimicrobial mouth rinses. Tooth whitening kits or strips, prescription mouth rinses and other products may be right for some people as well. Toothbrushes also come in many shapes and sizes, and it is important to select the best one for your teeth. Work with your dentist to develop oral hygiene practices that are appropriate for your particular dental needs.
Choosing toothpaste can be a daunting task. There are so many brands and types of toothpaste on the market, and so many advertising claims, that it can be difficult to work your way through the confusion. Understanding the facts behind the hype can make your decision on which toothpaste to choose a bit easier to make. Read the label before purchasing your toothpaste. Look for any unfamiliar ingredients while ensuring that the ingredients that you want are present.