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The dental aisle breakdown

The dental aisle can at times be intimidating. With so many choices, how do you know that you are choosing the right toothpaste?

First of all, the toothpaste must contain fluoride. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, brushing with a toothpaste containing fluoride decreases your risk of tooth decay by as much as 40 percent. There are other generic brands and organic brands that may claim to clean or whiten teeth just as good as the brand names, but if they do not contain fluoride, then they are not worth the money. Look for the ADA (American Dental Association) seal of approval. Only the products that have the seal of the ADA have undergone scientific research to determine they are safe and effective for use on your teeth. The ADA has approved over 50 different kinds of toothpaste, so it should be easy to find one that is within your budget and that your taste buds will approve of.

Many people are also overwhelmed by the additional ingredients in the toothpaste. To make the toothpaste foam the manufacturers put a product into it called sodium lauryl sulfate. If you are prone to canker sores sodium lauryl sulfate may be the culprit. Try choosing a toothpaste that has less of it like Colgate original or try Tom’s Natural toothpaste which does not contain this ingredient at all. Other manufacturers add thickening agents such as seaweed colloids, mineral colloids, and natural gums. All of these products are safe and effective and help to give the toothpaste the consistency that you are used to. If you are looking for whiter teeth, then Crest and Colgate both make really good whitening toothpastes. These toothpastes contain mild abrasives that help to remove surface stains on your teeth (like baking soda). With repeated daily use you will see a whiter smile; however, it will not get your teeth as white as your dentist can get them using bleaching agents. The commercials that you have seen claiming that foaming toothpastes work better than normal pastes or gels are not exactly accurate either. Some people do prefer the foaming toothpastes, but it is more of a personal preference, which only you can decide through trial and error. There are also toothpastes for people with sensitive teeth. Sensodyne is a great toothpaste to help decrease the sensitivity of teeth to hot or cold.

Next, how much toothpaste you put on your toothbrush is also important. A brush that is overflowing with toothpaste is not going to clean your teeth any better. It is recommended that you apply only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to the toothbrush. Also, no matter what brand of toothpaste you use, if you are brushing incorrectly, then debris will never properly be removed from your teeth. Dr. Jason McCargar, a Scottsdale dentist, says “to brush properly, it is important to move the brush in small circles and to hold the brush at a 45 degree angle. Doing this ensures that the bristles get in between the teeth and that the bristles also effectively clean out plaque at the gumline. It is recommended that you brush for about two minutes.”

So, next time you are in the dental aisle wondering which toothpaste to choose, use our flow chart to help pick. (click to enlarge)