How To Choose Toothpaste

February 21, 2013

Dental Healthcare

How To Choose Toothpaste

How To Choose Toothpaste

Have you ever wondered what criteria you should follow in selecting toothpaste?  Most people have no idea about the differences in toothpastes, or the benefits of different types.

Many situations add to the breakdown of enamel and tooth structure such as lack of calcium, excess fluoride, heavy smoking and abuse of coffee, tea or red wine.  In choosing toothpaste, you should consider several factors:  your lifestyle, habits, the health of your teeth’s enamel and your tendency to buildup tarter and stain.

Choosing the appropriate toothpaste could help you spend less time at the dentist, aid in the discomfort associated with sensitivities and help you have a healthier and brighter smile.  Before you purchase toothpaste, be sure to ask your dentist which paste would be best for you.

If you have sensitive teeth

Teeth can become hyper sensitive for a number of reasons.  Recession of the gums will expose tooth structure that does not have a layer of enamel over it, resulting in hot and cold sensitivities.  Excessive grinding and wear can reduce enamel, exposing the next layer of tooth known as dentin. This layer (dentin) is closer to the nerve of the tooth; thereby the tooth could be more sensitive. Exposed dentin has a higher likelihood of tooth decay.  Some dentists may place a fluoridated desensitizing agent on these areas to seal the exposed and sensitive area.  It is strongly recommended to use special toothpaste for sensitive teeth that contains strontium salts, potassium (strontium chloride, potassium chloride) and/or potassium nitrate.  They help to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce tooth sensitivity.  The paste should be low abrasion, which will clean the teeth without damaging the enamel.  There are specific index ratings (RDA) and it is best to choose a paste that has an indicator of no more than 75.

Whitening toothpastes

This toothpaste is recommended most for those who have strong, healthy enamel, however have darkened and stained teeth.  The RDA abrasive index for whitening toothpaste is 200.  Don’t be fooled by advertising that promises to whiten your teeth in as little as two days.  Although whitening toothpaste may slightly lighten darkened enamel, it will not produce a “snow white” result.  You should use whitening toothpaste no more than two times a week due to its abrasiveness and over use could result in thinning enamel and heightened sensitivity.  Be wary of toothpastes boasting of ingredients such as “carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide” as these are chemicals that can cause various reactions and are best when monitored by your dentist or prescribed by your dentist.  Also be wary of cheaper less known brands as they may contain regular chalk in addition to courser abrasive ingredients, which could damage enamel.  It is better to choose a paste with sodium hydrogen carbonate or silica, which are lower abrasive and less damaging.

Antiseptic, antibacterial toothpastes

The mouth is a host for various microbes and bacteria, which will mix with your saliva.  Antibiotic pastes are used when there is a moderate to advanced state of inflammation present.  This inflammation is recognizable by red, puffy and irritated gums.  Bleeding upon brushing is also an indicator of inflammation and possible periodontal disease.  Toothpastes containing triclosan, chlorhexidine or other approved agents may be found over the counter or may be prescribed by your dentist.  These types of toothpastes may be used for up to thirty days, however with prolonged used they can have an adverse effect.  Over use could affect the healthy bacteria also known as microflora, thereby creating favorable conditions for the spread and growth of fungal infections.  A more gentle option would be to use toothpastes containing extracts of medicinal herbs, such as sage, yarrow, chamomile and calendula.  While herbs are not “fighting pathogens”, they can aid in treating the irritation and inflammation of the gum tissue.

Toothpastes for caries (decay) 

Caries is better known as tooth decay.  Some toothpastes contain caries combative ingredients such as sodium fluoride, sodium monofluorophosphate, calcium glycerophosphate and/or aminofluorides.  Phosphorous is good for teeth, but in moderation.  For every 100 grams of toothpaste, there should be no more than 150mg of fluoride per adults and no more than 50mgs of fluoride per children.  Too high of a content of fluoride can have a detrimental effect on tooth enamel.  Proper use of fluoridated toothpaste can aid in caries prevention and over time can help maintain and keep enamel strong and reduce sensitivities.  In some cases when too much fluoride is used and/or there is a calcium deficiency, the result could be white chalky spots on the teeth.  These are areas where the enamel has been compromised and is less strong.  In areas with fluoridated drinking water you should consult your dentist as to which toothpaste would be best for you or your children.

Toothpaste for Children

Few parents realize the importance of choosing the right toothpaste for their children.  Most toothpaste advertised for children contain dicalcium phosphate or silica and show a RDA index below 50.  It is okay to use this lower concentration of fluoridated paste from the age of three up to adolescence.  After that you might want to consult your dentist to see which toothpaste he would recommend.  Children under the age of three should not use fluoridated toothpaste due to the possibility of ingesting it.  If you still want to use a fluoridated paste for children under the age of three, it is recommended that you use a paste with an index of no more than 0.025%.

The correct choice of toothpaste will help in the overall health and appearance of your gums, teeth and smile.  A healthy smile boosts your self-confidence and makes people take notice of your overall happiness.

How To Choose Toothpaste


This site is for information and support only and NOT a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment!
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