Walking into the toothpaste aisle, it is easy to become confused even when searching among the same brand of toothpaste. Should you for tartar-control? Fluoride? What does “total” whole mouth health toothpaste include? Should you try an all-natural toothpaste? When it comes to selecting your toothpaste, we understand how important it is to choose a product that is perfect for your unique oral health needs. To aid you in your search, we’ve made the ultimate toothpaste guide so that you know exactly what to look for.
Did you know the first known formula for toothpaste was made by the Egyptians? They used rock salt, dried flowers, mint, and pepper! This formula was altered over the years by various societies. Some using pulverized brick, chalk, and even burnt bread as ingredients. It wasn’t until the 19th century that there was a toothpaste somewhat similar to what we know today.
Basics of Toothpaste
Toothpaste comes in paste, gel, or powdered forms and also a variety of flavors. Despite the differences in taste and texture, most toothpaste share some common ingredients.
- Abrasive Agents -These are scratchy particles that work to remove food, bacteria, and minimal stains from the surface of your teeth while you brush. Calcium carbonate is the most common abrasive substance used in toothpaste. Abrasive agents make up about 50% of modern toothpaste.
- Flavoring – Artificial sweeteners are added to make toothpaste taste better. Though many of us associate the flavor of toothpaste with mint, there are many other flavor options on the market such as cinnamon, lemon-lime, and bubblegum. You can even find novelty flavors such as bacon or pickle!
- Humectants – Moisturizing agents are used to keep pastes and gels from drying out. The most commonly used humectant for toothpaste is glycerol.
- Thickening Agents – These agents help to give toothpaste that distinctive consistency and texture that we are used to in our toothpaste.
- Detergent – Detergents are used to develop suds or foam while you brush your teeth. The most commonly used agent for detergents in toothpaste is sodium lauryl sulfate.
Types of Toothpaste
There are many types of toothpaste on the market and while some may target specific oral concerns, others may cover a variety. Some of the common types of toothpaste include:
- All-Natural- Some patients prefer to use products that do not contain any artificial chemicals or ingredients. If so, consult with your dentist to discuss your options. Often natural toothpaste is fluoride-free, so you may need to find another means of fluoride intake to ensure cavity prevention. Many of these products do not contain detergents, so they may not foam like traditional toothpaste.
- Fluoride- Fluoride is a naturally found mineral that has proven instrumental in reducing tooth decay and preventing cavities dramatically over the last 50 years. Toothpaste that contains fluoride works to strengthen your enamel to prevent acidic damage and also reverses early signs of decay by remineralizing the surface of your teeth. Many products contain fluoride even if they target other concerns, as it is one of the most important qualities when selecting toothpaste for cavity prevention. Even if you drink fluoride-rich water daily, we still recommend you make sure it is included in your toothpaste selection.
- Tartar-Control- Everyone has bacteria on their teeth known as plaque which can be removed with good oral hygiene habits such as daily brushing and flossing. However, when plaque is left alone, it can harden and form into tartar, which can only be removed by a dental professional during a cleaning. Though there is no avoiding harmful bacteria, you can help reduce plaque and buildup. This toothpaste has agents that help kill bacteria more effectively and prevent tartar from forming better than other toothpaste.
- Tooth Sensitivity- If your teeth are sensitive, it is best to discuss your options with your dentist who can recommend specific brands for your needs. Certain chemicals within tooth sensitive toothpaste work to block nerve pathways to offer relief and reduce sensitivity.
We recommend selecting a toothpaste that has ADA approval as that product has earned its distinction after being evaluated for safety and effectiveness by a board of dental health experts. If you have any questions about which toothpaste is right for you or to schedule a consultation, contact Heather J. Cadorette, DDS today!