We often don’t think too hard about toothpaste since it’s been a staple of our regular lives since we were children. Every day, about two to three times a day, we reach for toothpaste to clean our teeth. However, the toothpaste market is full of all kinds of different formulas that boast various benefits for oral health. So what makes toothpaste the right choice for you? It can be hard to figure out exactly what to look for in toothpaste when you look at ingredient labels, so it’s important to understand certain facts about toothpaste before you go out and buy your next tube.
Talk to your dentist
If you want to get straight to the facts about which toothpaste is best for you, consult your oral hygienist. They spend quite a bit of time each year looking at your teeth (if you go for regular cleanings), so they will probably know what kind of toothpaste to recommend. Depending on your needs, they will tell you what is best for certain dental issues like sensitivity, enamel, and so on. Most importantly, they will tell you what kind of toothpaste to avoid, which is equally important. There are many kinds of toothpaste out on the market; some are better than others. You want to make sure you are using one that isn’t overly abrasive or damaging.
Check for the ADA seal
While placing the American Dental Association approval seal on toothpaste is completely voluntary for all brands, it’s usually a good sign that they have done their due diligence to become accepted. This shouldn’t be the only thing you look for in toothpaste, but it’s a good start.
Read the labels
Take a close look at the labels on tubes of toothpaste. Many of them will indicate whether or not they are for prolonged use, or if they are safe for children to use. The ingredients are also very important! If a brand toothpaste has many ingredients, seemingly more than most, there’s a risk of unexpected allergic reactions or sensitivities. Some contain artificial sweeteners, dyes, and fragrances, so make sure you understand what you are buying! When in doubt, do some research or consult your dentist for more advice.
Avoid whitening formulas
While current trends demand impossibly white smiles, whitening toothpaste usually does more harm than good. If you have sensitive teeth, steer clear of any whitening labeling. If you don’t have sensitive teeth and are looking to whiten your smile, be very careful when choosing whitening brands. They can severely damage tooth enamel, causing you to develop sensitivities you previously never had. If you want a whiter smile, talk to your dentist about doing an in-office treatment with professional whitening that is more effective and costs less money than risky store brand pastes, strips, or other contraptions.
Try a sensitivity formula
Many people struggle with tooth sensitivity and are always looking for a brand of toothpaste that can help ease symptoms. Over-the-counter sensitivity formulas are surprisingly effective and very affordable. However, if you’re not having much luck with them, you can be prescribed a more effective formula by your dentist for better results.
Try baking soda toothpaste
Baking soda used to be a common way to brush teeth “back in the day,” but it has made a big comeback in modern formulas! The benefits of using a baking soda formulated toothpaste are that it’s much gentler on your teeth than other, more modern cleaning agents. It also has a natural ability to neutralize acids in the mouth, which is very beneficial for good oral health. It’s safe to use and very effective, so don’t hesitate to give this old-school formula a try, even if it’s being advertised as a new trend.
Consider fluoride toothpaste
Almost all toothpaste on the US market contains fluoride, but not all of them do. The ADA recommends that people brush their teeth at least twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride because of its scientifically proven cavity-fighting properties. Some toothpaste may contain varying levels of fluoride, but they are all safe to use for children over 6. For children less than six years of age, consult with a pediatric dentist. It has been shown that too much fluoride at a young age could be detrimental to young teeth.
Beware of “natural” toothpaste
In recent years, there has been a rather strong anti-fluoride sentiment among certain holistic circles in America, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that fluoride is very beneficial for fighting cavities and safe for human use. This has spurred many different kinds of non-fluoride toothpaste brands to surface. Be sure you fully understand what you are getting into when purchasing this kind of toothpaste. Many of these brands and the ingredients they are using are not FDA approved. This kind of toothpaste falls under the same category as homeopathy and should be approached with caution. Make sure you do plenty of research before you go forward with using this kind of toothpaste, as most dentists do not recommend it.
Be wary of claims
There are some brands out there that make claims about their product that don’t add up. For example, no toothpaste can fully “restore” tooth enamel, especially once it has decayed. It can help keep current enamel strong, but it cannot regrow. If the toothpaste has fluoride in it, it will help keep your teeth strong against cavities, but it can’t undo the damage already done by decay.
No matter what kind of toothpaste you end up with once you reach the register, make sure you are also flossing and seeing your dentist every six months for a proper cleaning. Those steps are as important as finding the right toothpaste for you! Don’t hesitate to ask your dentist for toothpaste recommendations; they are the experts, after all.