Walking down the toothpaste aisle can be a little overwhelming. There are so many to choose from, and toothpastes really aren’t ‘one size fits all.’ One of the most common questions a dental professional receives on a daily basis is, “What toothpaste should I use?” The answer is it all depends on if the person has specific dental needs. One may find aide or relief in using a certain type of toothpaste for a certain need he or she may have. This article will not be promoting certain brands but will be exploring different classifications or kinds of toothpaste. Your local dentist can help you determine which kind will be best for you.

  • What toothpaste should I use?Anti-cavity toothpaste- Most toothpastes out there nowadays can be marketed as anti cavity because they contain fluoride. Fluoride is a natural-occurring mineral that helps to prevent or reduce tooth decay. It works topically by remineralizing or rebuilding any weakened areas in the tooth enamel, which can reverse any early signs of decay. To determine if a particular toothpaste contains fluoride, it would be listed under the active ingredient section on both the box and tube. It would typically be a compound named either sodium fluoride or sodium monofluorophosphate, and it would be listed as a percentage. Almost all patients benefit from using fluoride toothpaste due to the constant acid attack their teeth face from daily eating and drinking habits. Some people choose not to use fluoride due to health concerns, yet these people still need to be aware of the benefits of fluoride and the potential risk for tooth decay.
  • Whitening toothpaste- In today’s time, everyone seems to want whiter teeth. Toothpastes that market that they will whiten your teeth tend to have better sales. For a toothpaste to actually change the shade of teeth, it needs to contain a form of peroxide. If a toothpaste deems to have a whitening effect but does not contain peroxide, then it has special abrasives such as silica or baking soda in it that gently polish the teeth or it has chemicals that help to break down stains on the teeth. Whitening toothpastes usually are not miracle workers, and most people do not notice a huge change in their teeth color by using a whitening toothpaste. Having a professional whitening treatment in the dental office is the most effective, and then a whitening toothpaste will help to maintain that new whiter shade.
  • Sensitivity toothpaste- The most common toothpastes out there that are labeled as ‘sensitive’ contain the active ingredient ‘potassium nitrate.’ Other ingredients that are less effective are stannous fluoride or strontium chloride. These ingredients work by stopping the nerve from firing inside your tooth when a stimulus such as cold aggravates it. Sensitive toothpastes do take time to be effective (usually around 2 weeks), and consistent use will provide the most relief. Fluoride also can help with sensitivity because it blocks the pores in teeth. If the pores are open, stimuli such as temperature change or acidity are more likely to excite the nerve and send a painful response.
  • Anti-gingivitis toothpaste- Gingivitis is a fancy word to say inflammation of the gums, and according to the Center of Disease Control, it affects over half of the US population. Those with gingivitis will have swollen gums that bleed due to the presence of bacteria on the teeth and around the gums. The best way to prevent and reverse gingivitis is proper toothbrushing and flossing, however certain toothpastes may help that contain antibacterial agents such as stannous fluoride or triclosan. These agents either kill or inhibit the growth of harmful oral bacteria and help to fight plaque. These toothpastes may also contain tarter fighting ingredients to help prevent any hard buildup deposits on the teeth. Again, this type of toothpaste won’t be a cure, but can be an aide in helping reduce inflammation in the gums. Seeing a dentist regularly will help keep gingivitis at bay.

Often toothpastes can fall under more than one of these categories for a multifactorial approach. It is important to consult your dentist or dental hygienist in order to determine your dental needs and to find a toothpaste that is best for you. Toothpaste alone will not solve dental issues you may be facing. Brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and seeing your dentist at least twice a year are also critical components in having good dental health. 

Also, it is that time of the year again. Candy time! Please mark your calendar for November 1st from 4-7 for the 12th Annual Gentle Dentist Candy Buy Back. Put your candy to good use. The candy will be going to a good cause and will be donated to children in Haiti, The Power Company in Pontiac, and Gifts for All God’s Children. The ‘buy back’ is geared towards young children as an incentive to get rid of some of their Halloween candy. The children receive one dollar for every pound they bring in. Donations will also be accepted and appreciated. The children who are parting with their candy can be reminded that their sweets will be going to those who are less fortunate who do not get to eat candy on a regular basis. The event will be held at the dental office in Shelby Township. For more details, visit the website www.thegentledentist.com or call us at 586-247-3500. We would love to hear from you!

By: Jessica Wendt, RDH