Dental Implants: Pros and Cons

How to Find the Toothpaste That's Right For You

by Brett Clark

Toothpastes today claim to offer a wide range of benefits, ranging from sensitivity relief to tartar control. However, many people are unsure which of these benefits they really need. If you're overwhelmed by the selection of toothpastes currently available, use this guide to cut through the marketing and understand what you really need to look for in a toothpaste.

Cavity Protection

The most basic benefit that a toothpaste should provide is protection against cavities. All toothpastes that contain fluoride, a mineral that strengthens tooth enamel, reduce the risk of cavities. Dentists recommend that adults use a toothpaste that contains at least 1,450 ppm fluoride, while children between the ages of three and six should use a toothpaste containing between 1,350 and 1,500 ppm. Avoid fluoride-free toothpastes, which don't offer the same degree of cavity protection.

Sensitivity Relief

Toothpastes for sensitive teeth typically contain potassium nitrate, which blocks tiny tubes in the teeth to prevent fluid from touching the sensitive inner root. Using a toothpastes for sensitive teeth can gradually reduce sensitivity, allowing you to eat hot and cold foods without pain. If your teeth don't get any less sensitive after using this kind of toothpaste regularly, see your dentist to find out if an underlying dental health problem is causing your discomfort.

Whitening Toothpaste

If you are unhappy with the colour of your teeth, you might want to choose a whitening toothpaste. These toothpastes typically contain silica, which rubs against the surfaces of your teeth to scrub away stains. Whitening toothpaste can take several weeks to produce a noticeable whitening effect, so you need to be patient. Note that smoking, drinking coffee and red wine, and even eating dark coloured foods like blueberries can cause the stains to come back. However, you can reduce the effects of staining foods and beverages by rinsing your mouth with water after you indulge.

Tartar Control Toothpaste

Tartar is a yellow, scaly substance that builds up on your teeth if you don't clean them every day. Brushing your teeth with any toothpaste reduces the risk of tartar, but some toothpastes contain extra ingredients that give extra protection against tartar. These ingredients typically include zinc citrate, which prevents soft dental plaque from hardening into scaly tartar, along with triclosan, which kills the bacteria that are responsible for forming plaque in the first place. Your dentist may recommend that you use a tartar control toothpaste if you regularly develop scaly deposits on your teeth despite brushing them every day.