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Toothpaste on a blue toothbrush

Take Care of Your Pearly Whites by Finding the Right Toothpaste

Choosing the Best Toothpaste for Your Needs

Most people don’t realize that they can actually experience harm by not maintaining clean, strong, healthy teeth through an excellent oral hygiene regimen that includes using the best toothpaste for your needs. Without a great smile, you can lose the ability to chew food well, or even chew some types of food at all. You can even experience gum disease, abnormal mouth ulcers, non-healing cuts, bad breath, and suffer from serious health problems caused by an overgrowth of bacteria and fungi in the mouth that overwhelm your immune system.

Toothpaste is one of the basic cleaning tools necessary for maintaining a beautiful, healthy smile. That said, not all toothpastes are alike. Manufacturers have created a wide selection of products that contain ingredients designed for different oral hygiene needs. They’ve also designed products with different individual tastes, textures, and even packaging preferences in mind to make their brands more attractive.

Types of Toothpaste

Toothpaste typically comes in gel or paste forms. Many products contain at least fluoride, as either stannous or sodium fluoride, because of fluoride’s antimicrobial properties. Fluoride also helps reduce sensitivity and helps prevent cavities. It hardens enamel and makes teeth more resistant to demineralization of calcium and phosphates caused by acids. All toothpastes usually contain an abrasive substance like baking soda or hydrated silica to gently scrub away stains.

The most common types of toothpaste found in a store and online are divided into the following four categories:

Kid’s Toothpaste

Since fluoride is toxic and can make a child sick if consumed, children’s toothpaste contains a smaller amount of fluoride. They also have less abrasive ingredients since children have more sensitivity problems. Flavors and packaging are designed to engage children and motivate them to brush their teeth. As a result, kid’s toothpaste products are commonly made with bubble gum and candy flavors. Packaging is often brightly colored and shows cartoon, anime, and live action characters that children admire.

Adult Toothpaste

Adult brands have the highest fluoride levels. The most common flavor is mint, which has antibacterial properties and helps with bad breath. Many kids can’t tolerate a strong mint flavor, but adults typically enjoy how it makes their mouth feel cool and fresh. Other adult toothpaste flavors that have started to become popular include cinnamon and strawberry. They’re usually packaged with images of sparkling white or metal colors, coupled with cool blues and pictures of ingredients with catch phrases about the benefits of the product.

Specialty Toothpaste

Some toothpaste specifically deals with tartar control, and contains ingredients in some form of a sodium phosphate to prevent the buildup of tartar on teeth above the gums. People who have teeth that are sensitive to heat or cold, or experience overall sensitivity from bruxism, can find products that contain potassium nitrate, which helps desensitize areas by reducing pain. For people who have allergies or want fewer chemicals and toxins in their toothpaste, natural products also exist. These types of toothpaste typically offer more flavors such as chocolate, coconut, cranberry, and lemon lime.

Whitening Toothpaste

Teeth whitening fluoride toothpastes contain extra ingredients that clean and scrub away stains and help prevent new ones. Within this group of products, people who smoke can also find whitening options that help remove tar stains and improve the overall appearance of their teeth.

Shopping Tips

Always look for the American Dental Association’s seal of approval when picking out a new toothpaste. It guarantees that a product meets the ADA’s oral hygiene requirements for cleaning teeth and fighting cavities. In addition, remember to pick a brand and flavor that you feel you will want to use daily. For example, if you hate mint, don’t settle with mint toothpaste simply because you need a teeth whitening option and can’t find another flavor in the store. Take the time to search for a non-mint whitener in other stores and online.

You can also find non-flavored whitening kits that involve gels, trays, and other tools that provide similar benefits. Lastly, always sample the products whenever possible since you might realize that a product doesn’t work the way you hoped. Look in the travel product section of your local big box department store or pharmacy for travel-sized tubes, and check with manufacturers and your dentist for free samples.

Special Considerations

If a toothpaste causes symptoms related to oral allergies or others sensitivities, such as mouth itching, swelling, or formation of mouth ulcers, pick a different one. Reactions can worsen with continued use and even affect breathing and swallowing. Some teeth whitening options cause tooth sensitivity. Most dentists recommend that their patients stop using toothpaste specifically labeled as a whitening product if they experience sensitivity.

Since ingredients in teeth whitening fluoride toothpaste are designed to clean the teeth, never brush immediately after eating or drinking a beverage. Acids in the mouth from food and beverages make teeth vulnerable by weakening enamel. The abrasives and brushing action then cause damage. Instead, rinse the mouth thoroughly with water after eating and drinking. Use a straw when drinking any beverages that contain a lot of acid like juices, coffee and soda. If you must brush your teeth, wait at least 30 minutes. After you brush, always use floss and mouthwash to finish cleaning.