Posted on 3/1/2016 by Fariba Mutschler
|There are so many types of toothpastes available that I often get asked by parents, “;Which toothpaste should I use?”;.
These basic types of toothpaste are available:
All toothpastes have pretty much the same ingredients, but try to make themselves stand out in various ways.
The most common ingredients are:
Abrasives: Abrasives are what do the cleaning in toothpaste. They take off yellowish plaque and scrub off stains. The most common abrasives are calcium phosphate, silica, calcium carbonate and alumina. Toothpaste abrasives should be strong enough to remove plaque and stain, but should not be so abrasive that they damage the tooth enamel.
Coloring Agents: Coloring agents make toothpastes more attractive and more palatable. White toothpaste has titanium dioxide and other artificial dyes make other toothpaste colors.
Detergents: Detergents cause toothpaste to foam. Foam helps keep toothpaste inside our mouths instead of running out as we brush. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is the detergent used most commonly. Unfortunately, detergents are believed to contribute to formation of canker sores (ulcers) in some people. Detergents are bad-tasting so strong flavorings are used to hide the bad taste.
Flavoring Agents: Flavors are added to toothpaste so you enjoy using them. Most toothpastes have strong flavors to cover up the bad tasting detergents.
Fluoride: Fluoride is the active ingredient in toothpaste.
Fluoride incorporates itself into tooth enamel making your teeth more resistant to acids produced by plaque bacteria, as well as acids found in fruit juices, soda (both regular and diet) and certain foods. Fluoride in toothpaste can be in the form of sodium monofluorophosphate, stannous fluoride, or sodium fluoride. Prescription toothpastes (for people that need more cavity fighting help such as those with dry mouth or after cancer radiation treatment, etc.) have a much higher concentration of sodium fluoride than regular over-the-counter toothpastes.
Humectants: Humectants are moisturizers and also provide smooth texture to toothpaste. Glycerin is a common humectant and sorbitol acts as both a sweetener as well as a humectant. Xylitol acts as both a humectant and as a sweetener but it is less common although it seems to be a great cavity-fighter.
Preservatives: Preservatives stop toothpaste from growing germs so you can keep the tube on your sink counter instead of in the refrigerator. Common preservatives are methylparaben, ethylparaben. and sodium benzoate.
Sweeteners: Sweeteners also improve the taste of toothpaste. Most toothpaste sweeteners are artificial and contribute very little to cavity formation. Saccharin is a common toothpaste sweetener.
Thickeners: Thickeners, of course, determine how ‘;thick’; the texture of toothpaste is. Cellulose gum, carrageenan, and xanthan gum are often used for thickening.
So what do I recommend?
Since most toothpastes have similar ingredients, I recommend prescription 5000 parts per million Fluoride toothpaste for most people over the age of six with the caution that the reason it is prescription is that you must keep it out of reach of children (who may eat it all and get very sick).
For kids under age two, I recommend non-fluoride toothpaste or regular toothpaste and use very little, a dry grain of rice size.
Kids between two and six can use regular toothpaste.
People who frequently get canker sore ulcers in their mouths should try one of the toothpaste brands without SLS such as Rembrandt.
I recommend avoiding tartar control toothpastes because they are more acidic and can actually soften teeth as well as soften tartar.
Sensitive teeth can be helped with one of the several sensitive toothpastes, such as Sensodyne, or come to the dentist for application of fluoride varnish on the sensitive areas.
All toothpastes whiten teeth by removing yellowish plaque and surface stains. Tooth whitening is best accomplished with bleaching gels rather than with toothpastes.
Just remember that cleaning teeth well has more to do with brushing technique and the use of floss than the brand of toothpaste!
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