Which is the Right Toothpaste for You?

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Choosing the right type of toothpaste for your teeth can be harder than you think. There are a variety of toothpastes to consider depending on the needs of your teeth. Tartar control, sensitivity, fluoride, whitening, all natural; the list goes on. Considering the needs of your teeth and the services of the toothpaste can help you decide which one will best fit your teeth.

Basic Ingredients

Toothpaste is either in a gel form or a paste form. There are many brands and types of toothpaste but they all contain some of the same ingredients. All types must contain some kind of abrasive agent. Something coarse and grainy to help scrape off the debris left on the teeth such as calcium carbonate or silicates must be present. Flavoring is another ingredient that is always present. Artificial sweeteners make the taste of toothpaste a little more tolerable. The most popular flavoring is mint or spearmint, but flavorings can include anything from bubblegum to chocolate. Other ingredients include a humectant to prevent drying out of the toothpaste, thickeners, and detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate.

Fluoride should be in any toothpaste you choose, regardless of whether it's gel or paste. It is a mineral that occurs naturally. Its use in toothpaste has drastically reduced cavity occurrences over the last 50 years. After eating, sugars and starches remain in the mouth and become a breeding ground for bacteria. Acid is released within these remnants, which can destroy the teeth. Fluoride provides a barrier against these destructive acids. It performs this job by strengthening the enamel of the teeth and re-mineralizing areas of the tooth that have begun to decay.

Tartar Prevention

Tartar control is another must in toothpaste. The bacterial layer of plaque that grows on teeth can turn to tartar if not removed promptly and correctly. It is hard to remove and builds up both above and below the gum line and eventually turns to gum disease. Tartar controlling ingredients can include zinc citrate, pyrophosphates and an antibiotic called triclosan. Toothpastes with more than one tartar fighting ingredient are the most beneficial.


Some people have teeth sensitive to heat or cold. Eating or drinking anything too hot or cold can cause moderate to extreme pain. These people can choose a toothpaste specially for sensitive teeth. They contain an agent such as strontium chloride or potassium nitrate that protects teeth from extreme temperatures by blocking the pathways to the nerves. The downside is they often take a few days or even weeks to start helping.

A Whiter Smile

People have always sought out whiter teeth and a brighter smile. Recent years have brought more and more whitening toothpastes to the market. Contrary to popular belief, these toothpastes do not contain bleach. Instead they include chemicals or other particles that are abrasive and can polish teeth. Others can cling to the stains and pull them from the surface of the teeth.

Any toothpaste used should be approved by the American Dental Association. They have been tested for effectiveness and safety. Never choose a toothpaste made in China. In 2007, many Chinese toothpastes were found to contain the toxic substance diethylene glycol.

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