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Unlike face cream, body lotion, or soap, toothpaste is not a complementary personal care product. Brushing your teeth daily with toothpaste is a critical tool in preventing gum disease , which affects nearly half of adults over the age of 30 in the United States, according to the CDC.
"Although the dental industry has evolved over the past decades, brushing and flossing remain the most important methods of maintaining the health of our teeth and gums," explains Heather Coonen, MD, co-founder of Beam Street. "Brushing your teeth two or three times a day with fluoridated toothpaste is our best defense against invading bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease."
With hundreds of types of toothpaste ranging in price from low to high, choosing one can be a bit tricky. However, Dr. Kunen urges that the search be narrowed down to those with the active ingredient fluoride , who should be considered for the ADA Acceptance Mark. "I tell patients to choose the toothpaste they like as long as it contains fluoride, because fluoride is still the most important mineral for keeping our teeth strong," he says.
According to the American Dental Association, other active ingredients can help improve tooth sensitivity, whiten teeth, reduce gingivitis or protect against tartar formation, or prevent enamel erosion or bad breath .
Here are the best toothpastes on the market today.
Colgate toothpaste has been a popular dental care brand since the 1800s for good reason: Their products are high-quality and effective. We chose Colgate Cavity Protection Toothpaste (see on Amazon ) as our top choice because dentists and reviewers believe it to be a comprehensive multi-tasking solution. It is also extremely affordable and does not contain titanium dioxide. With that said, if you hope to address specific dental issues, such as yellowing of your teeth, dry mouth, or just have sensitive teeth, or are looking for a fluoride-free product, you should explore other options.
What to look for in toothpaste
The teeth become shiny and healthy not because of the intense shine, but because of the ingredients in the tube. According to the American Dental Association, other active ingredients can help improve tooth sensitivity, whiten teeth, reduce gingivitis or protect against tartar formation, or prevent enamel erosion or bad breath . Here are some active ingredients to consider.
Fluoride – This is the most important ingredient in any toothpaste. The main thing toothpaste adds to the brushing equation is fluoride. Fluoride will be the main active ingredient in toothpaste, ”says Dr. Manz.
Surfactant: If you see a scary-sounding term like sodium lauryl sulfate on a label, that's not a cause for concern, according to Dr. Manz. "Sodium lauryl sulfate, which makes toothpaste foamy," he says. 'If you go to Europe, for example, their toothpastes will be very flat and not so foamy. Americans who have tried this toothpaste find it very unpleasant. So the foam makes it taste good, makes it a little more pleasant for us to brush our teeth, which is important for us to do it. "
Hydrogen Peroxide – Whitening Hydrogen peroxide removes both surface and internal stains , making teeth noticeably brighter and whiter.
Abrasives: 'Toothpastes may also contain calcium carbonate, aluminum carbonate silicate, or aluminum hydroxide; these are abrasive materials, ”says Dr. Manz. "I think most of the data really indicates that the impact of toothbrush bristles on our teeth is what actually removes most of the plaque in tartar." These are cleaning and polishing agents that are added to toothpaste to remove surface stains and destroy bacteria colonies. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), toothpaste with a dentin abrasion ratio of 250 or less is safe for daily brushing with proper methods.
If you don't like the taste of toothpaste, you probably don't want to use it. So if you don't like the smell or taste of tea tree or peppermint oil, consider avoiding foods that contain them. Unfortunately, the only real way to taste toothpaste is to taste it. Fortunately, most retailers have return policies.
Specific dental problems
If you have any special dental needs, such as bleeding gums or sensitive teeth, you should choose a toothpaste made for this reason. Many people who fall into this category find that traditional toothpastes are too harsh for their needs.
"Patients with sensitive teeth should look for brands like Sensodyne that include potassium nitrate in their toothpaste formulas because potassium nitrate helps soothe sore nerves," suggests Dr. Kunen. If you are not sure which toothpaste is best for your individual needs, check with your dentist.
Frequently asked questions
The expiration date of the toothpaste is indicated on the end of the tube. It typically takes two years from the date of purchase, and you have enough time to clean each ounce before the expiration date. The main active ingredient, fluoride, loses its effectiveness after this time. It can also change color and flavor. An expired toothpaste won't hurt you, but it won't be as effective in cleaning your teeth and preventing cavities.
The recommended amount of toothpaste for brushing your teeth depends on your age. The ADA recommends that children use a toothpaste swab (the size of a grain of rice) from the time their first tooth erupts until age three. From age three to adulthood, they can use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. These small amounts help limit oral fluoride exposure in children to maintain safe levels. As tempting as it may be to squeeze out a large amount of toothpaste, as in an advertisement, adults no longer need it.
What the experts say
'The fluoride in toothpaste prevents enamel mineralization due to the acidic effects of food and drink. If you have fluoride in the water and fluoride on the teeth from the toothpaste, then the enamel will remineralize again faster and will not create long-term demineralization, which leads to tooth decay. The simplest explanation is that fluoride makes teeth stronger. "
– Julius Manz, DDS, officer of the American Dental Association.
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Additional information to this story by Jennifer Nayde
As a seasoned health writer, Jennifer Nay understands how important food quality recommendations are to safely and effectively treating symptoms at home. For more than 10 years, you've researched products, interviewed experts, researched ingredients thoroughly, and researched research and claims to help readers like you understand what works in your particular environment. Each product in this article was selected based on medical advice, published research, and real-life customer reviews.