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The Ultimate Toothpaste Guide

You need some more toothpaste, and you’re in the store, standing in front of a host of options. There is “whitening” toothpaste, other kinds that mention fluoride, others that mention tartar control, and still more that say they’re made for “sensitive teeth.”

But all of these characteristics are good right? So what do you choose? Often, because we don’t really know what to look for, we end up choosing the cheapest thing we can find. It’s not the end of the world, but it can help to be more informed.

What to look for

Check out the ingredients label on a toothpaste. Look for fluoride. Flouride is awesome because it strengthens the enamel of your teeth every time it’s applied. It also helps remove plaque, and reduces the risk of gum disease.

  • Zinc citrate, pyrphosphates, triclosan: All help reduce the accumulation of plaque or tartar.
  • Potassium nitrate: helps calm the nerve of the tooth, so this is a good ingredient for people with sensitive teeth.

When a toothpaste says that it whitens, that usually means there is some kind of abrasive substance added to the paste, to remove surface stain in the act of brushing. Overuse of this kind of toothpaste may actually lead to the wearing down of the enamel layer, however. And the whitening effect won’t be very dramatic, so be wary.

Can I buy the cheap stuff?

There have been studies that suggest the brushing action is actually more important than the toothpaste itself, meaning you’d still see benefit from brushing with just water.

But you don’t want to give up the benefits of fluoride, so use toothpaste. Look at the ingredients to determine if the toothpaste is a high quality. You’ll notice that some toothpastes have a higher or lower level of fluoride. This can often be a clue.

Some recommend looking for the seal of approval from the American Dental Association. This can be a good place to start if you’re in a hurry. But generic brands may be just fine, and not carry that seal.

Does brand matter?

Brand certainly doesn’t matter as mush as the TV commercials say it does. In most cases, the brand doesn’t matter at all. More expensive brands may have a higher percentage of helpful ingredients however, so read those labels!

Ask Dr. Larsen if the toothpaste you’re using is good enough. He may recommend a specific variety for your teeth.