Patients often ask, “What kind of toothpaste should I be using?” The answer, quite simply, is whatever kind you like! Toothpastes produced by the major companies (think Crest, Colgate, etc) differ mostly in flavor, color, and texture. If you like a sharply minty paste more than mild, sparkly, bubblegum gel, that’s fine! The most important benefit from toothpaste is the delivery of fluoride to the teeth to help prevent decay. Secondly, it makes brushing more pleasant. A toothbrush without toothpaste is equally as effective at removing plaque and debris, but most people prefer a nice mint taste while brushing.
A few things to keep in mind when selecting a toothpaste:
1. Choose one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Any of the major brands (such as Crest and Colgate) are approved. This indicates that they contain the appropriate amount of fluoride. Beware of brands at dollar stores which often do not contain any fluoride at all.
2. If you have sensitive teeth, try a toothpaste specifically designed to help with sensitivity such as Sensodyne, Crest Sensi-Repair, or Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief. Sensitive toothpastes have added ingredients that help desensitize the pores in teeth. Keep in mind that it can take several weeks for maximal effect, so don’t give up if you don’t notice a difference immediately!
3. Toothpastes designed to help whiten teeth often contain added abrasive particles to more effectively “scrub off” surface stain. They will help lighten or brighten teeth when used for several weeks. However, they do not significantly change the tooth color – that would be done with over the counter or professional bleaching.
And with all of this talk of toothpastes, don’t forget the importance of flossing! No matter how great your brushing technique, those toothbrush bristles simply don’t fit between teeth!