There are dozens of brands to choose from and a ton of money spent on advertising to convince you one is better than another so how is a person supposed to make an informed decision?
Dr. Stephen J. Pyle, Weston’s first dentist, suggests that the short answer to the question is:
- Stay away from any toothpaste that is made in China. The FDA discovered that some toothpastes made in China included the toxic substance toxic substance diethylene glycol and recommends that you not purchase any paste from that country.
- Use a paste you like. Different people use different toothpastes for different reasons but the ultimate goal is to make brushing your teeth an everyday routine. Using a paste that you enjoy reinforces that habit.
- Only use toothpaste that is ADA approved. If the product has the ADA seal it has been evaluated for effectiveness and safety by a board of dental experts.
But what about the “specialty” toothpastes? How do they work and are they effective.
Tartar Control Toothpastes
Tartar is the hard deposit that builds up on teeth when natural occurring plaque is not removed by effective brushing. Plaque is unattractive but more importantly, it can cause gum disease. Toothpaste that targets tartar will have one or more ingredients such as pyrophosphates and zinc citrate or even the antibiotic triclosan, which kill the germs that create the plaque. Generally speaking, the more anti-plaque agents a paste has the more effective the paste.
Everybody wants white teeth so these pastes are easy to sell. None of the whitening pastes include bleach and the real difference between whitening and regular paste is the amount of abrasives included. Whitening pastes rely on polishing the teeth and scraping off stains. While some people are concerned about damage to enamel by the abrasive agents, studies show there is little risk.
Sensitive Teeth Toothpastes
For people who have teeth that are sensitive to cold or hot liquids, toothpaste that includes potassium nitrate or strontium chloride can block the path that leads to nerve endings located in the teeth. These “sensitive teeth” pastes can offer relief but typically require up to four weeks of use before offering full benefit.
Almost all toothpastes have added artificial flavoring to cover up the actual taste of the ingredients while giving the user a sense of “minty clean” or fresh mouth. The additives are purely cosmetic and their principal benefit is to make brushing enjoyable.