How to Shop for Toothpaste
Everyone wants a sparkling white smile. One way to accomplish this is by brushing your teeth morning and night. The toothpaste you use makes a difference, so give some thought to your selection. Here are the features to look for and what to avoid the next time you shop for toothpaste.
Qualities of Good Toothpaste
The American Dental Association (ADA) says it’s important to brush with toothpaste that contains fluoride. Often called nature’s cavity fighter, fluoride makes the outer layer of your teeth, known as enamel, more resistant against acids that cause tooth decay. When reading toothpaste labels, look for ingredients such as sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride, or monofluoride phosphate (MFP). As long as any one of these fluoride-based ingredients is present, you can trust the toothpaste to help you maintain your beautiful smile.
The ADA Seal of Acceptance
The ADA awards its Seal of Acceptance to products that have been scientifically evaluated to be safe and effective at delivering the promises on the label. Toothpaste companies must exceed legal requirements to earn the seal. TIP: You can find the ADA Seal of Acceptance on all sorts of oral hygiene products, including electric toothbrushes, water flossers, white strips, and even mouthguards and water filters.
Tartar, also known as calculus, is a hardened form of dental plaque that contributes to tooth decay. All toothpastes achieve some degree of tartar prevention by including abrasive agents, such as calcium carbonate or silica, to remove the food particles and bacteria that cause tartar to form.
Enamel is the thin, hard coating over your teeth that prevents sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. Since enamel erodes over time, and your body can’t regenerate it, it’s important to shop for toothpaste that strengthens and protects your enamel from acids in certain foods.
All reliable toothpaste products only contain ingredients that have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To ensure this is the case with the product you buy, we recommend that you shop for toothpaste from recognized name brands, such as Crest, Colgate, Sensodyne, and Tom’s of Maine.
A pleasant taste and texture
This quality is based purely on preference. Different types of mint flavoring are found in various brands of toothpaste, and color and consistency vary as well. If the last toothpaste you bought was goopy or tasted funny to you, throw it away and try something new. If you hold onto products you don’t enjoy using, you’re more likely to skip important dental hygiene tasks.
Other Features to Look For
As mentioned above, tartar-fighting qualities are inherent in all toothpastes. However, active tartar control is an additional feature of some products. The ingredient tetrasodium pyrophosphate is a proven tartar preventer, but it can’t remove tartar that has already formed—only a professional cleaning can do that. We recommend only using tartar control toothpaste if you are extremely tartar-prone. Otherwise, the irritation it causes some patients may not be worth the extra prevention it provides.
When it comes to whitening your teeth, toothpaste is the least effective method available. You might be able to whiten by a single shade over a long period of time, but you won’t be able to restore a white color to yellow teeth. Still, if you recently had in-office whitening done, using whitening toothpaste afterward can help you maintain your sparkle.
If you have sensitive teeth or receding gums that expose the unprotected roots, shop for toothpaste designed to treat this. Ingredients such as strontium chloride and potassium nitrate reduce the ability of nerves in your teeth to transmit pain. Be aware that it may take four to six weeks of twice daily use to feel any results. Also, sensitive formula toothpaste won’t counteract pain caused by cavities.
Things to Keep in Mind
Avoid sodium lauryl sulfate
This ingredient is a foaming agent that creates the illusion of achieving a better clean. However, SLS can irritate sensitive teeth and gums and cause canker sores in people prone to them. Just realize that despite the similarity of their names, sodium lauryl sulfate is not the same as sodium lauroyl sarcosinate. The latter is a milder cleansing agent and an excellent alternative to sodium lauryl sulfate.
Consider the abrasiveness
All toothpaste contains some sort of abrasive to remove plaque and surface stains, but if it’s too harsh, you could damage the very enamel you’re trying to protect. All ADA-approved products fall within a certain range, but this varies quite a bit. We recommend that you shop for toothpaste with low abrasiveness.
Don’t use too much
Toothpaste ads tend to show people loading up their toothbrushes, but just a pea-sized amount will do. Using more than this doesn’t help your teeth get any cleaner—it simply wastes the product and means you’ll run out faster. When assisting a child with brushing their teeth, put an even smaller amount on their toothbrush.
The next time you shop for toothpaste, remember that your final choice comes down to personal preference, as well as the unique needs of your mouth. Find a product you like, and stick with it. For help choosing the right toothpaste for you, or for tips to get more from your at-home dental hygiene routine, please call Dr. Ania’s Boulder, CO dentist office today at (303) 872-9940.