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Pick a brand…which toothpaste should you use?

TV ads make EVERY toothpaste sound fantastic and the actors they use in their commercials flash perfectly straight, gleaming white smiles. The fact is, picking a toothpaste isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. As in all medical care, there are different people, different problems, different solutions… and it’s the same when you try to decide which toothpaste is best for you and each member of your family.

Are you all grown up and haven’t had a cavity in 20 years…OR a parent of small children…OR do you experience a “zing” whenever you eat something cold…OR are your teeth yellow?…the questions needed to be answered before you choose your brand goes on and on.

MOST importantly, you need to brush correctly with whatever toothpaste you choose. At least twice a day – every day – for two minutes.
But past that – consider the following:


This is probably the most important thing to look for in a toothpaste and it’s why tooth decay has declined dramatically in the U.S. over the past 50 years! Everything you eat or drink leaves traces of sugar and starch on your teeth; fluoride helps to combat this occurrence. Fluoride helps strengthen your tooth enamel, making teeth stronger and guarding against decay, cracks and chips. So make fluoride #1 on your list of “MUST HAVE” in your toothpaste. Remember too, there may also be fluoride in your municipal water source.


If you’re plagued with teeth that are sensitive to hot, cold, sweet – or a combination of these – you can benefit from toothpastes with potassium nitrate or stannous fluoride. (BTW – if your sensitivity pain is caused by a cavity, toothpastes like Sensodyne will NOT help)


Toothpastes that help fight plaque usually contain sodium pyrophosphate to keep tarter (or calculus, as they call it in the dental industry) from fossilizing on your teeth. Once tarter hardens on your teeth, it can not be removed at home.


Toothpastes that contain this are used to reduce infections between the gum and tooth. Recently you’ve probably heard that the antimicrobial Triclosan may pose health risks…those that are old enough probably remember when fluoride was under the same attack. There’s no evidence that either product is harmful


The whitening action is usually done by added hydrogen peroxide and a grit-like, abrasive ingredient. More grit, more abrasion, more whitening. In the years before whitening toothpastes hit the market, many would use baking soda to brush their teeth’s stains away. (Although it worked – it didn’t taste very nice.) What you need to know is that these types of cosmetic pastes can only whiten to the same level that a proper dental cleaning gives you, because they only remove surface stains. For the whitest white – seek professional teeth whitening services by a trained dental professional.


Children do not need a special toothpaste but do look for toothpaste brands that contain 1,350-1,500 ppm of fluoride. If under 6 years of age – 1000 ppm. Make sure children don’t eat the toothpaste which is often a problem with pastes that look and taste like candy.

When Dr. Jackie Schafer of the Colorado Healthy Smiles dental clinic in Lafayette, Colorado was asked what toothpaste she advises her patients to use, her answer was a surprise. “All toothpastes contain more or less of the same ingredients. What may even be more important than toothpaste is the toothbrush you use”, she replied. “Toothpaste only enhances the ability of your toothbrush to clean the teeth. So use whatever toothpaste you like or that claims it can help any dental problem you might have.”

Still wondering which brand to use? Dr. Schafer acknowledged that some dentists do have preferences and the easiest answer on what brand to use is probably, “ask your dentist”.

And, by the way – she also pointed out that it is not necessary to cover the entire surface of your toothbrush with toothpaste, only a pea sized dab is needed to properly help clean your teeth and freshen your breath.

Author Info

Dan Stratford