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The Ultimate Guide to Purchasing Toothpaste

Posted Wednesday, October 15th, 2014


On average, we are bombarded with 300-750 marketing messages from brands each day. All of these brands are vying for our attention, approval, and at the heart of it, our wallets. It can be overwhelming. So how do we do choose? We can’t help you with what type of cereal to buy or what soap to use, but we can guide you on choosing the right toothpaste.

There’s an entire aisle of the pharmacy and grocery store dedicated to toothpaste. With so many kinds, so many brands and so many flavors, it’s about time someone broke it all down. Check out these quick tips and browse our list of toothpaste types on the market today.

3 Quick Tips for Toothpaste Selection:

  1. Look for ADA approval. The American Dental Association’s seal of approval means a product has been deemed safe and effective by their independent review board of scientific experts. Note that all products carrying this seal contain fluoride which is, more often than not, highly beneficial.
  2. Select what’s best for you and your loved ones. The best toothpaste for you and your family is a matter of preference, but more than anything, it should be focused on oral healthcare needs (which we will address below).
  3. Avoid Imposters. The FDA advises against purchasing toothpastes made in China. Back in 2007, some toothpastes imported from China contained diethylene glycol, a toxic substance.

What’s Right For Your Pearly Whites?

Baking Soda Toothpastes

When it comes to ingredients, the name really says it all for this type of toothpaste. Also, it gives you a different flavor than typical mint varieties.

What It Does:

Baking soda based toothpastes are great for cleaning surface stains. Also, baking soda is a weak base, which helps to counteract the acid from bacteria, as well as the more acidic food and beverages that you consume.

Who It’s For:

People who are looking to possibly reduce their gum irritation and pain, and a toothpaste with less abrasiveness. In some cases, baking soda based toothpastes leave out unwanted chemicals (be sure to check the ingredients).

Children’s Toothpastes

Younger ones most likely won’t be big fans of mint or baking soda flavored toothpastes right off the bat. You can find many fruit flavored options that will appeal to your kids.

What It Does:

Gets the job done, but with less fluoride. Too much fluoride can stain children’s teeth which are still developing.

Who It’s For:

The name says it all!

Natural Toothpastes

This category alone could be its own blog post. Like any natural product, there are so many facets to choosing the right natural toothpaste.

What It Does:

These products contain less chemicals, and in some cases absolutely no chemicals. You can still find a variety of toothpaste types, similar to those on this list. For example, there are natural brands that make toothpastes with baking soda and even ones made for whitening.

Who It’s For:

Those looking to live a more natural lifestyle. If you are concerned with chemicals and would like to look into this type of toothpaste, be sure to do your research (suggestions via Good House Keeping for natural toothpastes).

Sensitive Teeth Toothpastes

Two particular ingredients, strontium chloride and potassium nitrate, have been recognized by the ADA as effective in treating sensitive teeth and gums. Also, avoiding sodium lauryl sulfate is best for sensitive teeth, as well as those who chronically have canker sores.

What It Does:

This toothpaste is “low abrasion.” In mild cases, after 4-6 weeks of use, you might see a difference in levels of sensitivity. It works to block the pathway to your tooth’s nerves, thus decreasing the ability of your nerves to transmit pain.

Who It’s For:

If hot and cold foods are often painful, you should consider this type of toothpaste, but also speak to us, your dentist, at your next visit. People with gum disease (receding gums) and exposed dentine of a tooth root definitely should use this. Note that this will not work for sensitivity caused by cavities.

Tartar Control Toothpastes

Most of these types of toothpaste contain fluoride, although a variety of ingredients are implemented to help prevent further buildup of tartar. Other ingredients include pyrophosphates and zinc citrate, as well as triclosan (a bacteria killing antibiotic).

What It Does:

Tartar is the plaque that wasn’t removed from your teeth and has now hardened onto them. This deposit is much harder to remove and can build up. If too much builds up under your gums, it can lead to gum disease. This specific toothpaste works to prevent this kind of buildup on your teeth.

Who It’s For:

Those with a tartar problem and those who just wish to prevent it from becoming an issue.

Whitening Toothpastes

These types vary in strength and results. Most whitening toothpastes contain hydrogen peroxide or calcium peroxide which are highly abrasive. Dentists consider many of them as too harsh for teeth.

What It Does:

Contrary to popular belief, these products only polish your teeth. They make your teeth appear whiter by getting rid of surface stains. They do not actually whiten them. However, over time, it can wear away tooth enamel and cause a yellow appearance in some cases. Many experts say a toothpaste with fluoride and triclosan might be a better bet.

Who It’s For:

Those who wish to remove some surface stains, but aren’t in a position to opt for a professional teeth whitening treatment.

This list contains the general categories of toothpaste and information about them. If you have any questions or are looking for more information on what’s best for you and/or your family, please feel free to ask us at your 6 month checkup, or next appointment.

To make an appointment, call 215-564-1025!

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