The Ultimate Guide to Buying Toothpaste

ToothpasteA smile is the best and most universally recognized accessory that you could possibly wear, so it’s a definite that you want to take good care of yours! A big part of that is brushing at least twice daily with the right toothpaste, but what if you can’t tell which one is best?

Should you use gel? Powder? Paste? Would whitening or fluoride fair better for your oral hygiene? Is ADA approval that important anyway?

There are a number of factors you should consider when tiptoeing through the toothpaste isle at your local grocery or department store. Here are the top 3:


  • Fluoride: Fluoride is actually one of the most important things to look for when you are shopping for toothpaste. This is because it makes tooth enamel stronger and less likely to suffer damage from the acids released when bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugars and starches left behind after you eat. Fluoride also can reverse early stages of acid erosion by remineralizing areas of your teeth that have started to decay.
  • Pyrophosphates and Zinc Citrate: These two ingredients are often included in toothpaste to help fight tarter (a hardened form of built-up plaque that can lead to gum disease). Both have been proven safe and effective for this purpose. Don’t pay more for toothpastes that include more than one ingredient for tarter-control though, as they haven’t actually been proven to be any more effective than toothpastes that only include one ingredient for the same purpose.
  • Triclosan: This ingredient is also included in tarter-control toothpastes, and claims have been made that it actually kills some of the bacteria in your mouth. Its efficacy is still questioned by some experts, but a toothpaste with this ingredient may be a good choice if you are suffering from gingivitis.
  • Potassium Nitrate or Strontium Chloride: These two ingredients are known for blocking pathways through the teeth that attach to nerves inside the teeth; this is how they help to treat sensitivity. The biggest downfall of potassium nitrate and strontium chloride is that they can take up to 4 weeks to offer sensitivity relief.
  • Diethylene Glycol: This is a toxic chemical that was found in some toothpaste that was imported from china back in 2007. If you want to be sure to avoid it, try seeking out toothpaste made here in the U.S.A.
  • Modified Silicone Abrasives: These are used in whitening toothpastes to help remove surface stains. If, after one month of using a toothpaste that contains them, you still aren’t satisfied with the brightness of your smile you should try asking your dentist about in office whitening solutions.

An American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Approval: Whatever the ingredients in your toothpaste, you shouldn’t be using it if it hasn’t been approved by the ADA. Toothpastes approved by the ADA have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness by an independent review board of scientific experts and that’s important! Don’t risk your oral health by spending money on products that aren’t proven to be effective or that could potentially be dangerous to you and your family.

Special Options:

  • Whitening Toothpastes: Whitening toothpastes don’t contain bleach, in case you were worried about that. They whiten your teeth by way of chemicals that bind to stains to help pull them from the tooth’s surface or ingredients that serve as abrasives. If you use very harsh whitening toothpastes daily, however, you could be damaging your enamel. Try alternating your favorite whitening toothpaste with a regular toothpaste that has fluoride in it, and only using a soft-bristle brush whenever you brush with whitening toothpaste.
  • Sensitivity Toothpastes: These toothpastes include the ingredients potassium nitrate and strontium chloride, which you already read about in the ingredients section. Again, sensitivity toothpastes can take up to 4 weeks to take effect, so try to be patient and give them a fighting chance!
  • Tartar Control Toothpastes: These toothpastes are designed to fight off plaque and tartar build up that can lead to gingivitis later on. You don’t need to pay any extra for a tartar control toothpastes that includes both pyrophosphates and zinc citrate, because so far no research has proven that using more than one tartar control ingredient has made these toothpastes any more effective. If you have gingivitis, you should be seeking out a tartar control toothpaste that includes triclosan.
  • Natural Toothpastes: Usually, these toothpastes leave out ingredients like fluoride and opt to use ingredients like peppermint oil instead. As long as they are approved by the ADA, they are safe and effective to use.

Factors like cost, advertising, perception of how effective the product will be, flavor, and which special options you think you need will all influence which toothpaste you choose. Ultimately, the decision as to which toothpaste is the best to buy is up to you alone, and it’s more important than you think.

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