Choosing a Toothpaste: The Struggle is Real
Standing in the toothpaste aisle at the grocery store can be very overwhelming. There are so many brands to choose from, each brand offering a wide variety of toothpaste designed to help achieve a different goal; preventing cavities, anti-gingivitis, whitening, sensitivity control, the list goes on. A trial and error method for toothpaste buying can get expensive if you’re having trouble finding the right toothpaste for you. To help in your decision making, I’ve composed a list of qualities one might be looking for in toothpaste, along with a few types that, in my opinion, fit the bill.
Cavity Protection: The active ingredient you’re looking for here is fluoride, whether sodium monofluorophosphate, sodium fluoride or stannous fluoride. Fluoride strengthens teeth by penetrating the tooth and becoming incorporated with the enamel, making it more resistant to decay. Sensodyne Pronamel is a good choice for cavity prevention because it is specially formulated without sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) allowing more fluoride to be available and bind to enamel. The ingredient SLS is a foaming agent that binds to fluoride, decreasing the amount of fluoride available for your teeth and cavity protection.
Gum Care: Inflammation and bleeding of the gum tissue surrounding the teeth is called gingivitis. Crest Pro Health toothpaste is one-of-a-kind as it has stannous fluoride as the active ingredient. Stannous fluoride is unique in its ability to protect against both cavities and gingivitis, working to strengthen teeth and kill bacteria. Don’t get confused by the variety of Crest Pro Health toothpaste you’ll find; they all contain stannous fluoride as their active ingredient.
Whitening: Colgate Optic White toothpaste is a personal favorite because I find that with continued use, it whitens teeth without causing the teeth to become sensitive, as some whitening toothpaste does. Crest 3D White and Tom’s of Maine Whitening toothpaste are also very popular amongst those seeking brighter smiles. Keep in mind that healthy, cavity-free teeth will whiten with daily brushing and flossing, no matter what toothpaste you decide to use.
Sensitivity: It can be very painful and frustrating to have teeth that are sensitive to cold food and beverages. To help combat sensitive teeth, look for toothpaste with potassium nitrate and fluoride as the active ingredients, such as Sensodyne Pronamel. If used on a regular basis, these two minerals decrease or eliminate sensitivity by blocking the pathways that lead to the nerve of the tooth, shielding the teeth from cold temperatures. After brushing, try to let the toothpaste remain on the teeth for a few minutes before rinsing with water; or don’t rinse at all.
Dry or Burning Mouth: Having dry mouth can make brushing your teeth a painful experience. Certain toothpaste may cause a burning sensation and may also exacerbate dry mouth. To avoid worsening symptoms, look for SLS-free toothpaste. Sodium lauryl sulfate is an inactive ingredient that has drying effects on the skin and oral tissues and is found in most personal hygiene products. Popular brands, such as Tom’s of Maine and Sensodyne Pronamel, are easy-to-find and available at most grocery and drug stores. Check the label to make sure the product is SLS-free as most companies that manufacture SLS-free toothpaste, also make varieties containing SLS. Individuals suffering from dry mouth are at a greater risk for developing cavities so choosing toothpaste that contains fluoride but is SLS-free is ideal. Note: SLS-free toothpaste is not designed to increase saliva flow.