The Ultimate Toothpaste Guide

What kind of toothpaste should I use?  It’s a common question I’m asked several times a day by many of my patients.  With a million different products out there, the dental aisle can be a very confusing and intimidating place.  New trends without any evidence-based research can also lead people to products that may not be beneficial in the long run.  Fear no more!  Let’s take a moment to break down what you’re really looking for in a toothpaste.

First and foremost, it’s very important that your box of toothpaste has the ADA seal of approval.  ADA stands for the American Dental Association.  When you see the ADA seal on any dental product, it means that the product has been approved as safe and effective for use.  Without this seal, there is no way to know if the product is safe to use, or actually doing what it’s claiming to do.  It’s very important to keep this in mind when considering a new product or trend that has absolutely no research behind it.

When it comes to your toothpaste, the brand doesn’t matter so much, but the ingredients do.  The most important active ingredient in your toothpaste should be Fluoride.  The Fluoride may be in Sodium Fluoride, Stannous Fluoride, or Sodium Monofluorophophate form.  The main purpose of the Fluoride is to help re-mineralize the teeth and prevent decay.  Fluoride is safe to use topically, but should be used sparingly with small children or other individuals who may ingest the toothpaste.  It’s best to start with a smear of toothpaste at the first sign of a tooth until the age of 3.  After age 3, it’s safe to use a pea sized amount.

There are several other details to consider when selecting the appropriate toothpaste for your needs.  One major complaint in the dental chair is generalized sensitivity due to gum recession or other issues. If this is the case for you, it’s a good idea to choose a toothpaste containing Potassium Nitrate.  This will help limit some of your sensitivity with continued, daily use.  Unfortunately, some active ingredients in whitening toothpastes can also cause or exacerbate sensitivity. Try to stay away from whitening, abrasive toothpastes if sensitivity is something you struggle with.

Overall, picking a specific brand of toothpaste is mainly based on personal preference.  Even though it can seem a little overwhelming considering all of the choices out there, it’s important to keep in mind what really matters.  Does this toothpaste have the ADA seal?  Does this toothpaste contain Fluoride?  Will this toothpaste hurt or help my sensitivity?  If what you’ve chosen checks off these boxes, you’ve found a winner!  For more information, please visit https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/fluoride-topical-and-systemic-supplements

Emily H. , RDH
Red Oak Dentistry