My patients often ask me which toothpaste I would recommend. I know it is a daunting task to sift through all of the commercial hype and then encounter box upon box in the toothpaste aisle only to wonder which product will clean and protect your teeth. Colgate alone manufacturers over 60 different kinds of over-the-counter toothpaste! So it’s easy to see how even people who are loyal to a certain brand still don’t know where to begin.
Of course, you should have a discussion with your dentist concerning the condition of your oral health and which toothpaste attributes will benefit you the most. That said, I think I speak for most dentists when I say that it is the actual act of brushing and flossing to loosen and wash away lodged food particles and bacteria that we find most important. After that, selecting a specific toothpaste is subjective.
It might surprise you to know that even in third world countries where toothpaste is unavailable and dental offices are scarce, residents keep a healthy smile by using twigs to perform the same function as a toothbrush—sans toothpaste. And believe it or not, in many cases it works to maintain their general oral health. It’s the thorough, mechanical motion that delivers the key results.
Now before you hit the backyard and start snapping trees, let me say there are many benefits to living in our progressive country.
We have some great advances in toothpaste that offer our teeth protection, like toothpaste with added fluoride. Introduced in 1955 by Procter and Gamble, fluorinated toothpaste has become mainstream in most toothpastes and serves to protect the enamel on our teeth. Fluoride actually deposits itself into our teeth, making them more resistant to decay.
And while added ingredients tout whitening powers, a long-lasting minty flavor, or bubbling action to deep clean, these all have a minimal overall effect. If you are interested in the benefits in those advertised toothpastes, it’s a good time to see your dentist to accomplish noticeable results. Your dentist can whiten your teeth dramatically in one day, help you fight ongoing bad breath or halitosis, and do a more thorough deep-cleaning than anything you could do for yourself at home.
Dentists do prescribe toothpastes for individuals who experience a high level of decay or suffer from tooth sensitivity. But as long as you don’t suffer from any dental issues such as these, the next time you are in the toothpaste aisle, pick whichever one tastes best or strikes your fancy. As long as it contains *fluoride and you are doing your part with the toothbrush, we dentists are smiling.
I’d love to hear from you. How do you shop for your toothpaste? Do you select your brand based upon your dentist’s recommendation, company promises or advertising, price, flavor, brand-loyalty, coupons, or packaging?
*(Please check with your dentist about the right age to allow your children to use fluoridated toothpaste, as they should not ingest it.)