Since Crest toothpaste became the first toothpaste to receive the American Dental Association’s Seal of Approval in 1960, more than 400 toothpastes have shown up on retail store shelves. Every brand offers multiple sizes, flavors, and specialties. Buying a simple tube of toothpaste is not so simple.
Toothpaste is a daily essential, or should be, in every household. Toothpaste improves the cleaning power of your toothbrush by helping to remove plaque, the film of bacteria on teeth and gums that contributes to tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.
Most toothpaste contains detergents that cause a foaming action to remove food particles. Some add abrasives to help remove stains or flavoring to improve taste. Beyond that there are baking soda toothpaste, natural toothpaste, gels, desensitizing toothpaste, breath-freshening toothpaste, and many more. With so many choices, what’s a shopper to do?
- Look for fluoride
The fluoride in toothpaste strengthens tooth enamel which helps prevent tooth decay. Fluoride also works to remineralize teeth worn by acid.
- Look for the ADA Seal
The American Dental Association evaluates toothpastes for safety and effectiveness. All toothpastes with the ADA Seal contain fluoride.
- Evaluate special claims
Many manufacturers have specialty products in their line that make certain claims. You should know that whitening toothpaste doesn’t really whiten teeth but contains abrasives or chemicals to remove tooth stains. Tartar control toothpaste doesn’t remove existing tartar; only a dentist can do that. Instead, the product helps prevent tartar from accumulating.
- Consult your dentist
Based on the results of your dental exam, your dentist can determine if a special product is necessary. If there are no specific concerns, most dentists advise their patients to choose a brand they like because they will be more likely to use it regularly. Also, check with your orthodontist before making a selection. Some orthodontists advise patients who wear braces to avoid certain toothpastes, such as those containing a whitening agent.