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Finding the Best Toothpaste

With commercials constantly advertising whitening toothpastes and sensitivity toothpastes and natural toothpastes and do-it-all toothpastes, do you find yourself wondering what's really the best toothpaste?

Truthfully, there really isn’t one. Patients often ask what toothpaste I recommend or which one is the best, but truthfully there isn’t a “best toothpaste.” By and large, toothpastes are all pretty similar. The exact concentrations of ingredients might vary, but the basics are the same. 

Use a toothpaste that will get you to brush. If you have sensitive teeth, then Sensodyne is a great option. You can even let it sit on your teeth for about 30 seconds before brushing it off to decrease sensitivity on a particular tooth. However, if you don’t have particularly sensitive teeth, then just about any brand is a good brand.

Be wary of whitening toothpastes. In general they work one of two ways: they contain silica to “scrub away” surface stains, or they contain a bleaching agent to whiten teeth from the inside. Both of these methods are not ideal in a toothpaste. First, silica is abrasive. It might scrub away those stains, but it’s also likely to scrub away your enamel with it. And once enamel is gone, there’s no reliable way to build it back. You want to protect your enamel, and abrasive toothpastes are not a good idea. Second, bleaching agents need time to work. Even the fastest bleaching trays or whitening strips need 15-20 minutes to be effective. The 2 minutes you’re brushing your teeth is not enough time for those agents to work. They won’t harm your teeth the way silica will, but you might be disappointed in the results.

While the most important thing is to actually brush your teeth regularly, the second most important thing is for your toothpaste to contain fluoride, which fortunately most do. Fluoride binds to the enamel of your teeth, strengthening the outer layer and making it more difficult for cavities to form. The ability of fluoride to strengthen enamel is one of the greatest discoveries in oral health, and as more people drink bottled water rather than fluoridated tap water, having fluoride in toothpaste is more important than ever. Unless you have an extremely high amount of fluoride in your natural diet or live in an area where fluorosis is a problem, you definitely should be using a toothpaste with fluoride.

So there you go. Buy the toothpaste that YOU WILL USE - one that has a great flavor or reduces sensitivity or whatever the incentive is for you. Your dentist just wants you take care of your teeth, so do it with whatever toothpaste sparks the most joy for you!

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