Gone are the days when you just picked between Crest and AquaFresh. Not only are there countless brands of toothpastes on the shelves today; each brand has twenty or more different formulations with various claims on the packaging. We see people standing in the dental care aisle at the grocery store, just staring at a wall of toothpaste with no idea which one to pick.
There are two interesting points we can make about toothpaste, and neither of them tells you exactly which toothpaste to use. It will, however, help you make a more informed decision when it comes to selecting toothpaste for you and your family.
Toothpaste is not that important.
We know that might sound crazy coming from your dentist, but it’s true. The point of brushing your teeth is to remove dental plaque. Toothpaste is not necessary for the removal of plaque. It can help, but you can certainly clean your teeth without the added benefit of toothpaste.
The mechanical motion of the toothbrush bristles do all the work of plaque removal. You do not need foaming or mint or any of the things we associate with traditional toothpaste.
Toothpaste is simply a great way to make your mouth feel fresh and apply certain ingredients to your teeth and gums. Because some people really do need certain additives on the teeth (like fluoride to strengthen enamel or fight sensitivity), we do recommend using toothpaste for all of our patients. The point is that it is not necessary. Therefore, if it is not necessary, your choice can’t be that important.
When it comes to picking out a toothpaste, it is more important to know which ones not to pick.
There are ingredients in toothpaste that may be detrimental to people with certain situations. It is important to understand if any of these apply to you so that you do not pick the wrong toothpaste.
Sensitive Teeth? Do Not Use Whitening Toothpastes!
In most cases, sensitivity is the result of gum recession that exposes the roots of teeth. The roots do not have a protective enamel coating, and they are very susceptible to abrasion. Abrasion is the gradual wearing away of hard tooth structure due to repeated mechanical forces. This is a serious problem that leads to increased sensitivity and, in some cases, the need for expensive dental treatments.
Whitening toothpastes use abrasive particles to polish away superficial stains on the teeth (think of using very fine sandpaper to clean your marble countertops….). If you do not have a healthy amount of solid enamel, you should not use whitening toothpastes. If you’re not sure, ask Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara. They can ensure that your teeth are healthy and strong enough for the abrasive polishers in whitening toothpaste.
High Cavity Risk? Skip the Toothpastes that say “Fluoride-Free”!
“Fluoride-free” products have gained popularity in recent years as bloggers and alternative medicine proponents warn against the toxic effects of fluoride. Fluoride can be toxic when extremely high concentrations are swallowed. The good news is that these extremely high levels are not allowed in toothpastes, other oral care products, or municipal water sources. The only place you can get toxic levels of fluoride is from wells producing natural untreated water in areas with high mineral content of fluoride present in the ground.
While we respect the fact that some people would like to avoid fluoride, its benefits for strengthening the teeth, fighting cavities, and preventing acid erosion are too good to ignore. For those with a low risk for cavities, avoiding fluoride may be okay. Some people have a high risk for cavities; so high that they need the additive of fluoride in their toothpaste to help them prevent cavities. If you have a high risk for cavities, you should always use a toothpaste that contains fluoride. If you don’t know whether your risk for cavities is high, ask Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara at your next visit.
Prone to Canker Sores? Avoid SLS.
SLS stands for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, and it is a common detergent added to toothpaste to give it that nice foaming action we all love so well. The problem is that it is harsh on the soft tissues lining the inside of the mouth. If you suffer from canker sores or aphthous ulcers frequently, you should avoid toothpaste containing SLS. Instead, look for a product made for dry mouth or mouth sores (Biotene is a good SLS-free product).
More Questions about Which Toothpaste You Should Use?
Call 972-347-1145 today to schedule a visit with Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara and our wonderful dental hygienists. We can assess your areas of risk and make a specific recommendation of which toothpastes to avoid and which to use.