There are many toothpaste options to choose from: whitening, tartar control, desensitising, natural and a host of others. With so many types available, how can you know which is the best toothpaste to use? Or is there no real difference between them, and so it doesn’t matter which one you use?
You should ignore vague phrases on the packaging like ‘advanced formulas’, ‘extreme cleaning’, ‘multi-action’ and the like. These don’t have any value. It’s the ingredients listed that matter and which can be used to compare toothpastes.
That said, most toothpastes contain mostly the same key ingredients, with there being fewer differences between them than there are similarities. This means that even the cheapest toothpastes available serve at least the essential functions of the most expensive ones.
Just because a toothpaste is more expensive and has a brand name on it, doesn’t make it necessarily better than a cheaper one. A supermarket branded one if often more than fit for the purpose. But avoid unknown brand, imported ones if possible.
As for the flavouring of toothpaste, this makes no difference to its effectiveness. Minty flavoured ones are a common choice, but any of the other variety of flavours – plain, cinnamon, lemon, etc. – work equally as well. Again, it comes down to the active ingredients in the toothpaste.
The most important ingredient to look for is fluoride, which is the best one for strengthening and protecting teeth against decay. Research has shown that it reduces tooth decay by at least 40%. Thus, dentists agree it is an essential aspect of any good toothpaste.
Most toothpastes contain fluoride, but not all do, so always double check this point on the ingredient list, especially if opting for a cheaper toothpaste, or one claiming to use “natural” ingredients. And don’t skip a fluoride toothpaste because the area you live has fluoridated water. The fluoride concentration in the water is not alone sufficient to protect your teeth.
Another ingredient that the best toothpastes will have is triclosan. This ingredient kills bacteria that can create gum issues and cause bad breath. Other ingredients to look out for are pyrophosphates or zinc citrate. One of these two is typically found in ‘tartar control’ toothpastes (which isn’t a vague phrase).
The tartar-fighting elements can prevent the bacterial plaque that forms on teeth from hardening into tartar. Once tartar forms, dental hygiene cleaning is the only way to remove it. An excess of it can lead to gum disease.
If you have sensitive teeth, ingredients to look for are strontium chloride or potassium nitrate, which act as desensitisers and minimise teeth and gum irritation when brushing by blocking pathways through the teeth that attach to nerves inside the teeth.
Of all the specialist types of toothpaste available, those designed for sensitive teeth are the ones with the most noticeable effect. They don’t have an immediate effect, though, and can take up to four weeks to offer relief, so bear with them and give time for the chemical compounds to work.
Less noticeable in their effect are toothpastes touted as “whitening” your teeth. This labelling can often be deceptive, as the vast majority of them don’t contain a bleaching agent, which is required to alter the colour of teeth physically.
What they do contain are mild abrasive particles or chemicals that help polish teeth and prevent new stains building up. These are beneficial ingredients to have in a toothpaste, but they don’t have much impact on older discolourations.
For a more reliable method for whitening teeth, ask your dentist what teeth whitening options they offer. Both in-clinic teeth whitening and home teeth whitening kits provide guaranteed results in a short timeframe (an hour for in-clinic, two weeks for at home). No toothpaste can achieve that.
For children younger than six, the best toothpaste to use is one specified as being child-friendly. The difference between these and adult toothpastes is that the former contain lower fluoride content, necessary because children are more likely to swallow it. For this reason, you should also only use only a small, pea-sized smear of toothpaste for children.
Though it makes no difference to the actual cleaning of their teeth, a toothpaste for children that is colourfully packaged and has an enticing flavour is recommended. This makes it more likely that the child will want to brush their teeth, which is an important habit to form at an early age.
Taking into account all of the above, the best toothpaste to use is one that contains fluoride and triclosan, and which also has additional tartar controlling, desensitising, and whitening ingredients. Such all round effectiveness toothpastes are available.
That’s not to say you need to buy such a toothpaste, though. As mentioned earlier, fluoride is the absolute key ingredient. So long as the toothpaste you’re using has fluoride in it, and you’re brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing when you can, and visiting your dentist twice per year, then you can expect your teeth to remain in the best possible condition. It’s better to use a lesser toothpaste twice a day, then a better one once a day.
If you’re having problems with your teeth, book an appointment at our dental clinic in London. Call 020 7148 7148, email firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a message using our online contact form.