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Choosing the Right Toothpaste

A lot of folks ask us what toothpaste we recommend. We know you have a million and one choices facing you in the toothpaste aisle, and it can be hard to figure out what’s best for you. Many of the products available are “NEW AND IMPROVED!” with the latest dental fad. There are TOTAL, COMPLETE, HEALTH and WHITENING toothpastes, and some patients have even tried charcoal! Depending on your particular needs, any or all of these may suit you.

Cheap is Good

Most people can use any toothpaste that has the ADA (American Dental Association) seal of approval. This seal means that the toothpaste contains fluoride, has the right amount of abrasiveness (not too little and not too much), and has been shown to be both safe and effective for the intended use. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get the job done. You can save a few bucks by choosing brands like Aim, Aquafresh, and Pepsodent from the lower shelves of your grocery or drug store, and the quantities seem to last forever. The U.S. toothpaste market is worth millions of dollars and there are many players in the game. Therefore, each one must differentiate its products in a unique way. This leads to marketing claims of superiority through ingredients designed to whiten teeth, control tartar, and kill bacteria. Unfortunately, many of these chemical ingredients can be harsh to oral tissues. Dealing with my own chemical sensitivity issues, I have found the cheap stuff to be the best.

Sensitive Toothpastes

If you experience sensitivity to cold liquids, a toothpaste for sensitive teeth may reduce symptoms. These products contain a chemical ingredient that blocks the tiny tubules that transmit sensation to the inner tooth. It may take several days or weeks for the chemical compound to do its job, so don’t give up too soon. Most major brands such as Crest and Colgate have sensitivity toothpastes, and others include Sensodyne and Periodontax. The inexpensive brands that I favor also have sensitive teeth options.

Natural Toothpastes

If you have any sensitivity to dyes, preservatives, or certain ingredients, opt for a toothpaste that is free of those. Just make sure it has fluoride. Tom’s of Maine has an anti-cavity toothpaste that contains fluoride, but their other options are not ADA-approved since they do not contain fluoride. Again, I have found help on the bottom shelf for stripped-down toothpastes without an overload of chemical additives.

Things to Avoid

Remember several years ago when soaps that contained Triclosan were all the rage? The FDA has now banned Triclosan from soaps and body washes due to its undetermined effects after long term use. However, it is still available in some toothpastes such as Colgate TOTAL. Several patients in our office, as well as myself, experienced untoward effects after using TOTAL, including sloughing of tongue and cheek tissues, burning mouth, and loss of taste. When choosing a toothpaste, it is best to keep it simple. Fluoride is your best form of cavity prevention, so always select a paste with the ADA seal of approval. We are happy to talk to you about our recommendations for these, as well as other dental products.

Dr. Michael Gillespie has been a practicing Waynesville dentist for 25 years. The award-winning team has been honored to be selected as “Best Dentist” multiple times. Call us to see how we may provide an excellent dental experience for you!

Michael D. Gillespie, DDS

Michael D. Gillespie, DDS