Just the number of options you have when you buy a tube of toothpaste can be overwhelming. When it comes to choosing the best toothpaste for you, it's important to think about your unique oral health needs.
Toothpaste is available in paste, gel, or powder form. Despite the many types of toothpaste, there are some ingredients common to most varieties. These include:
- Abrasive agents.
- Humectants for moisture retention.
The most important ingredient to look for when choosing toothpaste is fluoride.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. Its use has been instrumental in the dramatic drop in tooth decay and cavity occurrence that has taken place over the past 50 years. Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars and starches that remain on your teeth after eating. Fluoride helps protect your teeth from the acid that is released when this happens. It does this in two ways. First, fluoride makes your tooth enamel stronger and less likely to suffer acid damage. Second, it can reverse the early stages of acid damage by remineralizing areas that have started to decay.
Tartar Control Toothpaste
There are many tartar control toothpastes on the market, most of which contain fluoride.
Everyone has a layer of bacteria on their teeth called plaque. If plaque isn't removed promptly with proper oral hygiene, it hardens into tartar. This hard-to-remove deposit can build up on your teeth and under your gums, ultimately leading to gum disease.
Certain toothpastes containing multiple anti-plaque agents have been demonstrated to be even more effective at tartar control than varieties with only one plaque fighter.
Toothpastes for Sensitive Teeth
For people who have teeth that are easily irritated -- for instance, by hot or cold temperatures -- there are toothpastes available that are made for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes usually contain potassium nitrate or strontium chloride. These chemical compounds, which can take up to 4 weeks to offer relief, help tooth sensitivity by blocking pathways through the teeth that attach to nerves inside the teeth.
To help people on a quest for pearly whites, many whitening toothpastes are now being marketed for everyday use, says Dr. Cherukuri, from her Chino, California dental practice.
Whitening toothpastes do not typically contain bleaches. Instead, they contain abrasive particles or chemicals that effectively polish the teeth or bind to stains and help pull them off the tooth surface.