Not all teeth are created equal, and neither are all toothpastes. Did you know that toothpaste has become a rather specialized market? No longer will plain old Colgate or Crest do the job. Let’s look at which toothpaste is right for your teeth, and which one you may want to give a try the next time your tube runs dry.
Before we get to the various types of specialized toothpastes, let’s take a moment to explore what they all pretty much have in common. There are basic ingredients for toothpaste, much like there are basic ingredients for bread and rock bands. They include:
- 75% humectant and water – Humectants are agents that keep things moist and give toothpaste its texture. Glycerin and sorbitol are common humectants.
- 20% abrasives – Silica is a common toothpaste abrasive. Abrasives help scrub the bacteria and buildup off your teeth.
- 1-2% coloring, foaming, flavoring and fluoride – The colorings, flavorings and foaming agents are what often distinguish one brand of toothpaste from another, while the fluoride helps remineralize your teeth and prevent cavities from forming in the process. You can find toothpaste options without fluoride as well.
That’s what all toothpastes have in common (other than the non-flouride varieties). That only leaves 3-4% for extras. It’s typically those extras that make the difference! Let’s learn some more about them.
Whitening toothpastes have added abrasives to help scrub away stains and buildup on your teeth. Most dentists suggest only using whitening toothpaste every other day. This is because the harsh abrasives can actually damage your teeth while they make them pearly white. There are safer, more effective ways to brighten teeth than by scrubbing them with these abrasives.
Toothpastes for Sensitive Teeth
Tooth sensitivity is typically caused by gum recession. Any tooth sensitivity should be checked with your dentist, not left unchecked. Most “sensitive” toothpastes add strontium chloride, sodium citrate, or potassium nitrate to their formulas. These ingredients tend to form a barrier over the teeth, protecting the exposed nerve endings and lessening the effects of brushing, heat, cold, etc.
Natural toothpastes replace the chemicals found in other toothpastes with natural ingredients. These are often in the form of natural salts, flavorings, and a common lack of fluoride. Baking soda is often an ingredient found in natural and conventional toothpastes alike. It has several advantages to use in dental care. It has mild abrasive qualities to clean teeth, has a pleasant taste to encourage longer brushing, and is considered a natural ingredient.
Tartar Control Toothpastes
There is no toothpaste that can reduce existing tartar, and none that can touch tartar buildup below the gum line. However, tartar control toothpastes can keep new tartar from accumulating on your teeth by forming a barrier that it won’t stick to. Regular brushing with any toothpaste can also prevent tartar buildup by simply removing it before it has a chance to form. The tartar below your gum line is what causes gum disease, so regular dental visits are still necessary, even when brushing with tartar control toothpaste.
Gel vs. Paste?
For the record, we’ve used the term “toothpaste” broadly in this article, more for efficacy than anything else. Gel toothpastes are often thought to be less abrasive than regular pastes. But gels can still be abrasive, as they can actually contain more silica than pastes. However, there’s currently no gel that contains a dangerous amount of silica. So, the great debate can rage on, because gel vs. paste is really a matter of personal preference and taste.
Whatever type of toothpaste you decide on, remember that it won’t do you any good unless you use it regularly. Still, regular brushing alone won’t keep your teeth as healthy as they need to be. Regular dental checkups are still in order. Flossing is important, too. In combination, regular brushing, regular check ups and the correct toothpaste– ask your dentist which is best for you– are key to avoiding the decay and tooth loss so often leads to malocclusion, or a bad bite, the most common causes of TMD.