The abundant toothpaste brands, types, and advertising hype can make it difficult to find the one that’s right for you. Toothpaste touts everything from added fluoride, protection against cavities, gingivitis, plaque and tartar buildup, as well as help with sensitivity, teeth whitening, and breath freshening.
The purpose of toothpaste is to help keep your teeth and gums healthy. It neutralizes the overall pH of your mouth and helps rid your mouth of enamel-destroying acid and the accumulation of harmful plaque.
The connection between overall health and oral health is well-known. Having healthy teeth and gums also helps reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, and problems during pregnancy.
No. 1: Fluoride
The most important ingredient in toothpaste for adults is fluoride, a natural, dental-friendly mineral. Fluoride protects teeth from bacterial acid. It strengthens tooth enamel and can reverse the early stages of acid damage by remineralizing areas that are starting to decay.
It is generally safe for the whole family in proper amounts. Toothpaste is an effective way of delivering fluoride to teeth. Its bioavailability (effective dosage) has dramatically reduced tooth decay and cavities over the past 50 years.
Nearly all toothpaste contains fluoride.
Other Features in Toothpaste
A lot of the other toothpaste features will depend on your oral health and habits, and personal preferences.
To begin with, look for a toothpaste stamped with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of acceptance.
Here are other features you may want to look for in a toothpaste:
· Baking Soda. Baking soda is less abrasive than other cleaning agents. It also helps promote a neutral pH. It is gentle, effective, and safe and used in many foods. With sensitive or cavity-prone teeth, baking soda toothpaste gives the same clean feeling without the harshness. Its ability to absorb odors and neutralize acids makes baking soda toothpaste highly effective.
· Natural Ingredients. Holistic dentists question the safety of fluoride, especially for small children. Natural toothpaste is not regulated by the FDA, so be sure to read the label and research the safety and efficacy of each ingredient. Remember, the quantities of each ingredient are not standardized in natural toothpaste.
· Sensitive Teeth. The outer enamel layer protects teeth against sensitivity. When enamel erodes, or gums recede, the inner layers are exposed, causing teeth to become sensitive. Toothpaste for sensitive teeth usually contains potassium nitrate, stannous fluoride, or strontium chloride. These chemical compounds offer relief from hot, cold, sour, or sweet foods and drink sensitivity for up to 4 weeks. They block pathways in teeth that lead to nerves inside teeth. Visit your dentist to determine if the cause of sensitivity is tooth decay or gum disease, and avoid whitening toothpaste, which might cause irritation or exacerbate the sensitivity.
· SLS-Free. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is found in personal care products. It’s a common ingredient in industrial cleaners, engine degreasers, and other chemical-rich products. A detergent, SLS is linked to allergies and sensitivities, skin problems, and temporary changes in taste. It can also cause canker sore flare-ups and dry mouth. It is particularly harmful to children. Using SLS-free toothpaste decreases the risk of exposure to potential toxins and sensitivities.
· Tartar Control. Tartar is plaque that has hardened. Various toothpaste ingredients help prevent tartar buildup. Chemical compounds, including pyrophosphates and zinc citrate, and the antibiotic triclosan, kill bacteria in the mouth. The most effective tartar-control toothpaste has more than one type of anti-plaque agent.
· Whitening. Whitening toothpaste does not typically contain bleaches, but abrasive particles or chemicals that polish the uppermost surface of teeth. Discoloration from stain-causing food and drinks are pulled off the tooth’s surface. Whitening toothpastes are no harder on tooth enamel than other types of toothpaste because they only remove surface stains. Whitening toothpastes tend to contain chemicals like blue covarine that help to break down or dissolve stains. Depending on the ingredients and extent of discoloration, results can take between 2-6 weeks to appear.
A recognized “Top Dentist” in the Twin Cities, Dr. Steven Hagerman, and his staff provide friendly and caring dentistry in the Minneapolis – St. Paul area. For cleanings, general dentistry, and cosmetic procedures call (651) 646-2392 for an appointment today.