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How Do I Choose A Toothpaste?

Posted on December 1, 2015 in Dental Health, Common Questions, Toothpaste


As you walk down the toothpaste aisle at the grocery store, do you become overwhelmed at the amount of options you have??

Extreme whitening, all-natural, tartar control, cavity prevention, enamel protection, and not to mention all of the kids' varieties...how does one go about knowing what type of toothpaste is actually worth buying?

First of all, almost all toothpastes on the shelf share a common set of ingredients:

  • Abrasive Agents - these are scratchy materials that help remove food, bacteria, and some stains
  • Flavoring - to make your toothpaste taste better
  • Humectants - these help the toothpaste to not dry out
  • Thickeners - these are agents that add thickness to the toothpaste
  • Detergents - these are what cause your toothpaste to foam as you brush

Everything else - the guarantees to whiten, prevent cavities, assist sensitive teeth, etc - are features added to this common set of ingredients.

When choosing a toothpaste, there are 2 staple features that we here at Montgomery Dentistry highly recommend you look for in your toothpaste:

  • The toothpaste contains fluoride - Fluoride is absolutely essential when it comes to fighting cavities and tooth decay.  Your own enamel is actually composed of fluoride, so a toothpaste that contains fluoride is like adding an extra layer of armor to your teeth!
  • The toothpaste bears the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal - You know that your toothpaste has been given a thumbs-up by dentists if it bears the ADA Seal.  Avoid purchasing any toothpaste that does not bear the seal, as it could be lacking essential ingredients or have experienced less-than-superior manufacturing.

Apart from ensuring that your toothpaste contains fluoride and the ADA seal, the rest is up to you and your preferences!

And to take the guesswork out of what all those features are even guaranteeing, here is a break-down of what the various toothpastes offer you:

  • Whitening Toothpaste - Toothpaste that promises to whiten your teeth gives the impression that a mini-bleaching session is going to take place.  Not the case.  Whitening toothpaste contains agents that help to scrub away stains, but no whitening is actually going on.
  • Children's Toothpaste - There is a special market for children's toothpaste.  Celebrity cartoon figures, sparkles, fun flavors...all are designed to make the teeth brushing experience more desirable for children.  And because young children are prone to swallow toothpaste, the ADA recommends that children 18 months and younger use the training toothpaste that contains low fluoride, as an over-consumption of fluoride can result in fluorosis.
  • Sensitivity Toothpaste - Toothpaste that promises to cut down on one's sensitivity issues is quite legitimate.  Sensitivity toothpaste contains agents that block the dentine tubules (the home of dental nerve endings), thus minimizing painful sensitivity.
  • All-Natural Toothpaste - Even though this toothpaste can boast in using all-natural ingredients, it has one major downfall:  all-natural toothpastes very seldom contain fluoride, the most important ingredient to look for in any toothpaste!
  • Tartar Control - Toothpaste that contains chemical compounds such as pyrophosphates and zinc citrate assists in dissolving those tough-to-remove tartar deposits.  If not dealt with, a build-up of tartar on your teeth and under your gums can lead to gum disease.
  • Enamel Protection - This particular toothpaste is a bit of a marketing gimmick, as the best protection that you can give your enamel is fluoride. Fluoride is already an essential ingredient in almost every toothpaste.

Here at Montgomery Dentistry, we want you to be confident and informed when it comes to making decisions about your oral health.  Brushing, flossing, and knowing which products to buy are all staples to a healthy mouth...as well as keeping up to date with your check-ups!  Feel free to call us to schedule an appointment or have your questions answered.

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Photo Credit: Header Photo


About the Author

Dr. Jay L. Robertson

Dr. Jay L. Robertson

Dr. Jay Robertson joined our practice in July 2008.  He is from Montgomery and is a graduate of Saint James School, Birmingham-Southern College, and the University of Alabama, Birmingham School of Dentistry.  He is a member of the American Dental Association, the Alabama Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry.

Dr. Robertson and his wife Jennifer have four children, John Campbell, Julian, Lowe, and Ansley.

Dr. Robertson serves on the board of the Montgomery Quarterback Club and is a member of the First United Methodist Church of Montgomery. When not at work, Dr. Robertson enjoys all things sports, including Auburn, golf, and his children’s various sports.

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