For many choosing a toothpaste is a case of selecting whichever one they normally buy, or perhaps which one is on special offer. However, choosing the correct toothpaste that is right for you is important and can be sometimes overlooked.
When you visit the toothpaste isle, you’ll soon notice there are a wide range of toothpastes to choose from, from “Triple protection” to “Pronamel Daily Protection”. You would be forgiven for being confused by all the many types and not looking too deeply into the differences. However, in this article we hope to provide some clarity as to which toothpaste may be right for you.
The ultimate goal of any toothpaste is to remove plaque and prevent cavities, keeping you with a nice looking smile and a low dentist bill. Toothpaste has changed drastically over the years from once upon a time using pure charcoal to now “advance-multi action-triple protection formula’s”. As confusing as these names may be Toothpastes generally consist of two main ingredients fluoride and a mild abrasive, bound together with sweeteners, thickeners, stabilisers and flavours.
So let’s look at abrasives, the particular abrasive used can vary from calcium carbonate to hydrated silica, however they all do the same thing. They are designed to polish your teeth and dislodge particles of food that get trapped between teeth.
While most toothpastes will contain the same key ingredients – this might make you think that which toothpaste you choose is irrelevant providing they have those ingredients. However it’s been recently found out that some cheaper toothpastes in the UK don’t contain fluoride that is bio-available (absorbable).
Fluoride is the key ingredient in preventing tooth decay. Tooth decay is the destruction of tooth tissue caused by acids made by bacteria in dental plaque. Dental plaque is a sticky film that constantly forms on the teeth. Each time you have sugary food and drink, the bacteria in plaque produce acid that attacks teeth.
Different types of toothpaste
Despite these same key ingredients there are endless different types of toothpaste that specialise in different things for different dental requirements. Such as whitening, tartar control, sensitive and enamel-lock toothpastes as well as products tailored to children.
Teeth-whitening are the most common types of toothpaste, however the degree to which they whitening can be often exaggerated. Whitening toothpaste can remove surface level stains caused by drinking coffee or smoking. However whitening toothpastes can’t change the natural colour or removing a stain that is deeper than surface level.
Surface level stains can be removed with whitening toothpaste that contain special abrasives that gently polish the teeth. As well, these toothpastes may contain peroxide or other chemicals that specialise to help break down or dissolves stains. It is important to understand the teeth whitening toothpastes won’t have the same effect as professional teeth whitening.
Teeth become sensitive when the enamel thins or gums recede, or when porous dentine (which is where the nerve endings are) become exposed. Teeth become sensitive from a number of things such as, brushing your teeth too hard, using a hard toothbrush, grinding teeth and commonly eating and drinking acidic food and beverages.
Sensitive toothpastes are one of the most effective in delivering on the promises the package makes. Sensitive toothpaste work by either covering up exposed dental tubules or by desensitizing the nerve endings in the dentinal tubules. As well some may have a lower level of abrasiveness to reduce erosion of enable.
Over time as plaque builds up on a person’s teeth it can harden and become Tartar which can lead to gum disease. Regular brushing can reduce the build up of tartar however proper removal can only be carried out by a dentist. Most toothpastes will contain some level of tartar suspension agent. Through ingredients such as Xantham Gum and Pyrophosphates.
Toothpaste for children
As children are much more likely to swallow toothpaste, toddlers up to 18 months are supposed to use low fluoride toothpaste to prevent fluorosis which is caused by ingesting too much fluoride. It is important to be aware of this when buying toothpaste for toddlers and not to give them an adult toothpaste.
However other things designed for children such as flavours and sparkles etc are purely there to make them more appealing to children and offer no difference in functionality and so you don’t need to overthink this in terms of looking after their teeth.
You may see from time to time items marketed as being “natural” and “herbal” however when Choice.com reviewed these products back in 2019. Many were made up with the same ingredients as normal toothpaste. However, some were made without fluoride. Fluoride is the one vital ingredient a toothpaste should contain and most experts will back this and we wouldn’t advise toothpaste without fluoride if you seek to have good dental health.
For those who have had periodontal surgery recently and who have been diagnoses by their dentist as having a high risk of dental decay, prescription toothpaste may be recommended. For those people whose roots of their teeth are now exposed, then prescription fluoride toothpaste might be beneficial. It is absorbed into the roots and enamel and helps strengthen teeth so that they resist acid which helps prevent cavities.
Prescription fluoride toothpaste contains a higher concentration of fluoride (5000 parts per million). This is the maximum strength available and it plays an important role in preventing and controlling cavities. It is not recommended for children with developing teeth.
After reading this article, we hope you have a better understanding of the difference in toothpaste and what different toothpastes do. For most people simply a toothpaste with fluoride will be enough, it is often advised to go with a trusted brand and generally steer away from just picking up the cheapest option.