What toothpaste is best for my oral care?
A common question we get is “what is the best toothpaste?” for the best oral care. My usual answer is “that depends on what you want it to do!”. When I was in college my dentist told me toothpaste was just soap. I quit using it for a while. But I changed my mind and started using it again. Toothpaste is a key part of our daily routine. Along with your toothbrush and floss it helps to clean your teeth and gums. But all are not all the same.
My second answer is to use whatever you like the taste of. I grew up with one major brand. I like the taste of it. Probably because that is what I was used to. Another brand gives us more free samples nowadays, so now I usually take that home. But I don’t like the taste of it, to the extent that I avoid using it. It makes my mouth burn.
Then there are the toothpastes that claim to do something extra for you. And they usually do. But there are usually some side effects.
Whitening toothpastes usually do make your teeth whiter than they would be if you did not use them. All teeth darken over time, so you may not see them get whiter, but they may not darken as fast, and so it would have been worse. To really lighten your teeth, we do offer bleaching, which usually makes a big difference.
However, the whitening ingredient is usually hydrogen peroxide, and will make you teeth more sensitive to cold. For most people that is not a big deal, but if you already have teeth sensitive to cold, it may be noticeably more sensitive.
Tartar control toothpaste
The same goes for tartar control toothpaste. It does prevent the calculus from building up as fast. But it also makes teeth more sensitive to cold.
Sensitive teeth toothpaste
Some patients have sensitive mucosa. The epithelium in your mouth sometimes gets sores due to some ingredients in toothpastes. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is used to help toothpaste foam. But for some people, it gives them aphthous ulcers (canker sores) on the skin in their mouth. These canker sores last about two weeks and can be very sore. So sore they make people think they are getting an abscessed tooth since it hurts so badly. But once they heal and go away, the toothache goes away too.
There are toothpastes that are designed to make teeth less sensitive to cold. And they usually work quite well. They may take 2-4 weeks to work. But I recommend these almost daily.
Dry mouth toothpaste
Another good product are toothpastes for those with dry mouth. Sometimes for various reasons, usually some medical treatment, or the salivary glands just don’t produce as much saliva as they used to. These toothpastes coat the mouth and make it feel wetter.
The one important ingredient that I do tell patients to look for is fluoride. Fluoride is one of the best ingredients for one’s oral care. There is no question that it will lessen the rate that teeth decay. I know there are those who are convinced that fluoride is poison. And that is their choice to not use it. But they will experience more cavities.
For those who have reached a point in their life where teeth are decaying rapidly, there is a prescription strength toothpaste that has a higher fluoride content than can be dispensed over the counter. It really helps cut down on the amount of decay we see.
So, my final word is: If you like your toothpaste, you can keep your toothpaste. But if you want to try something different, experiment and see what works for you. Again, though, if you don’t like the taste and you don’t use it because of the taste, it isn’t helping. Use something you like the taste of.
The ADA has a great video and article you can see here that explains what fluoride does.