Stand back and take a look at the oral care aisle in your local pharmacy, and you’ll see a vast selection of toothpaste to choose from. Each one is a little bit different, though the prices range significantly. What’s so special about one toothpaste over another? Are the expensive ones better than the cheaper brands at preventing cavities? You may be disappointed, if not surprised, to learn that there isn’t one toothpaste that is sure to guarantee the best oral health. In fact, toothpaste alone can’t prevent cavities without regular brushing, flossing and preventative checkups. However, many toothpastes offer benefits that can help you if you have specific oral care needs.
Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth
If you’ve ever experienced sharp pain from biting into something cold or sipping a hot beverage, then you know how uncomfortable sensitive teeth can be. Sensitivity results when the dentin, the layer under your tooth’s enamel, becomes exposed. This could happen when enamel breaks down due to a cavity, chipping, cracking or gum recession. Desensitizing toothpaste contain ingredients that block the signals that cause pain in the tooth’s nerve when applied to the dentin.
Desensitizing toothpastes really do work at reducing sensitivity, and there are scientific studies to back up their effectiveness. However, they don’t treat the cause of tooth sensitivity, which could be a sign of something more serious. So if you suffer from mild sensitivity, desensitizing toothpaste is convenient, but be sure to discuss your symptoms with your dentist or hygienist at your next visit.
The enamel of your teeth is made up of calcium and other minerals to create the hard surface that protects the nerves underneath and allows us to effectively chew our food. Over time, and with a diet rich in sugary and acidic food (everything from candy and carbonated beverages to citrus fruits), minerals wash away, weakening the enamel. There is no way to replace or rebuild enamel once it is gone, however, there is evidence that remineralization can strengthen and slow the erosion of enamel. To this end, fluoride has been added to toothpaste since the early 1900s. Adding fluoride to municipal drinking water became common after the Second World War.
Much more recently, remineralizing toothpaste containing the compound hydroxyapatite have come onto the market. These toothpastes also claim to restore the strength of tooth enamel to better fight cavities. There is clinical evidence that both fluoride and hydroxyapatite are effective in restoring minerals to enamel. However, one compound has not been proven to outperform the other. So you may end up paying much more for remineralizing toothpaste unless your dentist has a particular reason for recommending it.
Somewhere along the way, we’ve come to associate white teeth with healthy teeth, even though teeth are naturally not very white at all. As a result, whitening toothpaste has become very popular as a way to help brighten your smile and maintain the effects of other teeth whitening procedures. Different brands attempt to achieve these results in different ways. Some whitening toothpastes contain abrasive ingredients to gently polish enamel, while others contain peroxide to break down surface stains.
Other whitening toothpastes contain the compound blue covarine, which creates the illusion of teeth being whiter than they actually are. Most dentists don’t recommend the long-term use of whitening toothpaste because abrasive ingredients can contribute to the wearing away of enamel. Peroxide and other chemicals can be harsh on your teeth and gums.
Toothpaste for Kids
Toothpaste manufacturers have created an overwhelming number of choices for parents who just want to get their kids to brush their teeth with some sort of regular frequency and proficiency. Toothpaste with a milder minty flavour, toothpaste that tastes like bubble gum or fruit, toothpaste with cartoon characters on the packaging, so-called training toothpastes, and all-natural toothpastes—there is a lot of choices.
Ultimately the most important factor determining the toothpaste you choose for your child is whether they are able to spit it out effectively, swallowing as little as possible. If they can, fluoride toothpaste is best for little teeth. If they cannot help but swallow, use a toothpaste that does not contain fluoride. If your child can’t tolerate the bubbles or the flavour of any toothpaste, just skip it altogether. There’s no magic in there, and no toothpaste can be effective without regular brushing and proper technique.
Wondering what type of toothpaste is best for your teeth? Book your next dental cleaning at Cranberry Hill Dentistry. Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist about remineralizing toothpaste and any other oral health care matters.