Help! I Need to Choose a Toothpaste!

Fluoride and flavors and flip-caps oh my! If you’re staring down the selection of toothpastes and wishing there was a Yellow Brick Road leading to the perfect one, you’re not alone. Luckily, your friends at Falmouth Dental Arts are here to help!

First and foremost, as you’re examining the tube of toothpaste, keep your eye out for two key details: the ADA seal of approval and fluoride content. The American Dental Association tests the safety and effectiveness of toothpastes on the market, and gives its seal to those pastes which pass the test with flying colors. Varieties without the ADA seal either have not been tested, or have not passed the ADA tests. Either way, choosing a product without the seal is a gamble for your teeth. Take the safe bet, and look for the ADA seal. 

Most toothpastes contain fluoride, a chemical compound with a variety of uses. In the dental realm, fluoride protects your teeth from decay by reinforcing your enamel. Fluoride has been used as an active ingredient in toothpaste for over a century, and has been introduced into a majority of city water supplies to improve oral health in the community. In recent years, fluoride has become a bit of a hot topic because it is toxic when ingested in large doses. Additionally, high levels of fluoride can lead to fluorosis: a discoloring of the teeth. However, because over-the-counter pastes contain such trace amounts of fluoride that fluorosis and toxicity are not of concern, Falmouth Dental Arts recommends fluoridated toothpastes. 

Dr. Karagiorgos states that “adding fluoride to our water supply has been statistically significant to help to improve oral health in at-risk communities. However, at Falmouth Dental Arts, we believe in a patient’s freedom to choose what goes into their bodies, and whether fluoride is right for them as an individual.”

“Proper oral health maintenance including brushing with any sort of paste, is the best method of reducing the risk of dental decay. Fluoride is not a nutrient, and our bodies have no need for it metabolically. It is very good at doing is killing the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Using it appropriately, in small topical doses such as those found in ADA approved toothpastes and mouthwashes can help to prevent decay, and also to reverse small amounts of acid damage. Acid damage can occur from cavity causing bacteria, acid erosion from reflux or consuming acidic foods.”

Beyond the ADA seal and fluoride content, your selection of toothpaste is entirely up to you! As you narrow down your choice, here are a few additional factors to consider: 

1.  Sensitivity: most toothpaste brands have a line specifically designed to address tooth and gum sensitivity. Some brands are entirely devoted to helping soothe sensitive teeth. Either way, most over-the-counter sensitivity pastes deliver on their promises to pacify any pain. If your sensitive teeth aren’t responding to an OTC sensitive-specific paste, talk to Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos about prescription strength options. 

2. Whitening: Who doesn’t want a brighter, whiter smile? Many toothpastes claiming to possess whitening powers typically do address basic surface stains. However, the different ingredients in whitening toothpastes can cause dental sensitivity over time. Additionally, any sort of abrasive ingredient advertised to whiten your teeth (such as activated charcoal, natural exfoliants, or microbeads) can erode your tooth enamel. Avoid abrasive materials in your toothpaste, and always keep smart brushing techniques in mind. If you’re looking for more intensive whitening, talk to Dr. Brunacini about in-office and at-home options at your next appointment!

3. Options for Kids: For brand new brushers, look for a training toothpaste which does not contain fluoride. When your child understands that toothpaste should be spit out and not swallowed, you can make the switch to a fluoride paste. Fun toothpaste flavors can be helpful if you’re trying  to make brushing fun–which goes for children and adults alike!

At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do for your teeth is to brush them properly twice a day! What you use to brush helps or hurts your effectiveness as a brusher, so you do want to choose your tools and pastes with care. Look for a toothpaste stamped with the American Dental Association’s seal of approval. Feel free to choose a toothpaste with a fun flavor and ingredients to address sensitivity or whitening concerns–just avoid any ingredients that might erode your tooth enamel. 

If you have questions about proper brushing techniques, or want to have Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos put their stamp of approval on your toothpaste–just ask them at your next dental exam and cleaning! If you have any questions, or to schedule your appointment, please call our office at 207.781.5900