Dentists hear this question almost daily. Toothpaste shopping can be a bit challenging with the dizzying array of products out there, each touting themselves to be the most effective, whitening, tartar reducing, cavity fighting, and freshening thing your mouth has ever experienced. How do you choose? Which toothpaste is the best one? Here’s my unconventional, but totally honest answer: SALIVA.
Stick with me, it’ll all make sense in a minute! First of all, you want to consider why we brush our teeth. Our mouths are host to a whole world of bacteria. The thick, sticky film on your teeth that we call plaque is actually a biofilm. It is basically a bacteria party on your teeth! These bacteria constantly try to attach themselves to your enamel. Because plaque is soft, however, you have the opportunity to easily brush this biofilm away. If you have the correct brushing technique, or even better, a Sonicare toothbrush, you could technically just brush your teeth with your own saliva. Healthy saliva contains minerals, Arginine, enzymes, and anti-microbial buffering compounds that both fend off tooth decay and re-mineralize your teeth. Its a wonder liquid and you make it yourself!
Unfortunately, many people have salivary issues, are not adequate brushers, or have other situations that make additional toothpaste a very good idea. Good oral hygiene is critical between appointments with a dentist.
What’s in Toothpaste
Most major brands of toothpaste have the same basic ingredients. One ingredient we at Contemporary Dentistry are most fond of is sodium bicarbonate aka: baking soda. Why? Baking soda is naturally bacteriostatic, which is something that inhibits the growth of bacteria that cause tooth decay (as opposed to bacteriocidal, which kills bacteria). The colonies of bacteria that call your mouth home are constantly producing acids which can break down the enamel of your teeth, so controlling this population with baking soda is a great idea! We like to customize our suggestions for each patient’s unique situation, so here are toothpastes for specific needs:
- Health Mouth, No Cavities: (available at local stores) plain Crest, Colgate, Tom’s of Maine, Arm and Hammer. (available online) Tooth and Gum Paste, Jason, OraWellness liquid
- If You Are Prone To Tooth Decay: Arm and Hammer baking soda toothpaste, Tom’s of Maine Cavity Protection toothpaste. Baking soda for the bacterial control, sodium fluoride for re-mineralization assistance
- If You Suffer From Dry Mouth: avoid toothpastes with Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) because this can irritate your already dry oral tissue. Tom’s of Maine Clean and Gentle, Biotene, Tooth and Gum Paste
- If You Have Periodontal Disease: any of the baking soda toothpastes listed above or homemade paste
- Fluoride Alternative Paste: Tom’s of Maine Propolis and Myrrh, Tom’s Anti-Plaque, Tooth and Gum Paste, homemade
- If You Have Porcelain Veneers: Try to find a very plain toothpaste such as Crest or Colgate without whitening or tartar control. The mild abrasives in special formulations can scratch the glaze on your veneers over time.
Talk to a Dentist about Toothpaste
Still confused or unsure? Then it’s time to talk to a dentist and get all your questions answered. We can evaluate your current oral health and talk to you about issues like allergies or other sensitivities to particular ingredients in toothpaste. As holistic dentists, we have extensive experience helping people who have problems with common dental products like toothpaste. We can help you make a decision about which is the best toothpaste for you.