A common question we are asked by patients is “what is the best toothpaste to use?”.
There are so many options out there that it can be very confusing, especially when there is so much information to consider.
First of all, if you are lazy with brushing and flossing, no toothpaste will save your smile. But, for those who stick to their dentist’s directives, the right gel or paste can help prevent gum pain, stained teeth, cavities and other more serious dental problems.
Secondly, always choose a toothpaste that is approved by the ADA (Australian Dental Association). This not only means it has proven to be effective through testing, but that it contains the mineral fluoride, which the ADA refers to as “nature’s cavity fighter”. It coats teeth and protects them from cavity-causing acids.
All day every day, a sticky film of bacteria is trying to form on your teeth. This film is called plaque, and it interacts with certain foods—mostly sugars—to produce acids that eat away at your tooth’s enamel, which results in tiny holes (cavities). Calculus (also called tartar) forms from bacterial plaque that has hardened. Once it has reached this stage no matter how hard you brush it won’t come off, only a dental professional can remove it.
There are different types of toothpaste made to target specific purposes (or multiple purposes) such as: caring for sensitive teeth, whitening/ stain removal, plaque and tartar preventing, high fluoride, all-natural and herbal toothpastes.
People suffer from sensitivity for many reasons including gum recession, gum disease, brushing too hard and teeth grinding. If a dentist has ruled out any serious dental problems, then people who have sensitivity due to receding gums, or wear that has exposed the dentine, should use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
It is important to try a few different types of sensitive toothpastes as they all work in different ways, and we find what works for one person may not work for someone else.
The main differences between sensitive toothpastes are:
Some sensitive toothpastes are long-term acting, and need to be brushed on the teeth where the dentine has been exposed in order for them to work (examples are normal Sensodyne containing potassium nitrate, or ‘Colgate Sensitive’).
Others are short-term acting for immediate relief and work by blocking up the tubules in the dentine, and because they chemically bind to the tubules, teeth don’t need to be brushed as effectively (examples are ‘Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief’ and ‘Sensodyne Rapid Relief’).
The newest sensitive toothpastes contain an active ingredient called “NovaMin”, which seals the tubules and layers a protective coating over the dentine (examples are ‘Sensodyne Complete Care’ and ‘Sensodyne Repair and Protect’).
You should try a variety of these toothpastes to find which one works best for you.
Whitening toothpastes contain more abrasive particles to help remove the build-up of stains and some also contain a small percentage of hydrogen peroxide to help whiten teeth.
Whitening toothpastes used to contain larger particles that were too abrasive on teeth if used daily, but these days the formulation has changed to contain smaller particles that will not cause any significant damage. While these particles will help reduce stains, older and darker stains may require a dental opinion.
People who want whiter teeth should see a dentist regarding professional treatment options, as whitening toothpastes will only whiten teeth 1-2 shades (such as ‘Colgate Optic White’) where other more popular whitening procedures can whiten by 6-8 shades.
The only toothpaste that should not be used daily are those targeted for smokers as they are too abrasive on the teeth and gums.
Plaque preventing, high fluoride and natural toothpaste:
Calculus and plaque-preventing pastes have an antibacterial agent such as triclosan to help reduce bacteria colonisation.
Patients that are prone to decay may need to use a high fluoride toothpaste (such as ‘Colgate Neutrafluor 5000’) to help reduce new areas of decay forming as the fluoride in the toothpaste will harden any demineralised enamel.
There are a large variety of toothpastes that can have high fluoride and whitening properties (such as ‘Sensodyne Pronamel’) and some that have multiple purposes to help reduce bacteria, stain, sensitivity and whiten all in one.
Some patients may want to use an all-natural or herbal toothpaste. These have been shown to work just as effectively but it’s important to use one that contains fluoride.
At the end of the day if you are in doubt about which toothpaste is best for you or have any questions, ask your dentist or dental hygienist who will be able to give you personal advice.
For more information on oral hygiene tips, please visit our Oral Hygiene Education page here.