When was the last time you thought about how to choose toothpaste? Whether you’re loyal to the brand you grew up with, choose whatever is on sale or simply grab the brand that’s handy, you may not be aware of the different types of toothpaste or what factors to consider when choosing one.
If you already look for an ADA-approved toothpaste, keep in mind that the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance program is voluntary. The ADA seal indicates that a toothpaste meets certain guidelines, but its absence doesn’t necessarily mean the toothpaste falls short. What else to look for in a toothpaste? Here are some questions to help you find the right one for you:
- Does it contain fluoride? The answer is probably yes, depending on the toothpaste you choose. For example, every toothpaste with the ADA Seal of Acceptance contains fluoride. Fluoride is a mineral that is found in drinking water and many foods. It can help strengthen the enamel of your teeth, which makes them more resistant to decay. According to the Oral Health Foundation, it also can reduce the amount of acid produced by the bacteria in your mouth, further lessening your chance of developing cavities. If you have questions about high-fluoride toothpaste side effects, talk to your dentist.
- How abrasive is it? Although dental enamel — the surface of your teeth — is strong, the dentin underneath it can be damaged by abrasion. Toothpastes with the ADA Seal of Acceptance have a lower “Relative Dentin Abrasivity” rating and shouldn’t hurt your teeth.
- Do I want a toothpaste that provides whitening or desensitizing? There are plenty of toothpastes that purport to whiten your teeth, but these can increase tooth sensitivity. If you have sensitive teeth, look for a toothpaste designed to help reduce it, and make sure to bring up the issue at your next dental appointment.
- What does the toothpaste contain? While rare, some people can have allergic reactions to the essential oils (such as cinnamon, peppermint or spearmint) that may be contained in toothpaste. To avoid toothpaste side effects, read the label carefully if you know you’re sensitive to certain ingredients. If you start using a new toothpaste and notice that your mouth is irritated, stop using it and talk to your dentist about it. You may be surprised to learn that toothpastes, especially those made for kids, can contain sugar, so check labels before you buy.
- Do I want a natural toothpaste? Consider whether you want a “natural” toothpaste — one that is free from chemicals and additives. These toothpastes use natural ingredients such as baking soda, salt, coconut oil and even clay to clean and polish your teeth. If you have reasons for wanting to choose a natural toothpaste, ask your dentist for recommendations.
With the variety of toothpastes available, you’ll want to choose one that best fits your needs. And don’t forget to talk to your dentist about any questions or concerns you have about your teeth and dental health. We are here and happy to help you!