​Even as a dentist, I find the toothpaste aisle at the grocery to be quite daunting. When I consider what’s most important about toothpaste,it is interesting to see how these companies market their different products, and I wonder how people decide which brand and type of toothpaste they will buy. Unless there is a specific need for an individual, what I tell my patients is that the type of toothpaste they are using is not as important as the amount of time and technique they use when they do brush their teeth. Let’s take a closer look at some of the different types of toothpaste to help you make a more educated decision next time you find yourself pacing up and down the toothpaste aisle.

  • Anti-decay (cavity): Anti-decay toothpaste is important because it remineralizes the enamel by delivering fluroide ions through compounds such as sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride, or Monofluorophosphate. Remember, American Dental Association recommended guidelines for adult and children fluoride dosage should always be followed.
  • Desensitizing: Sensitivity unrelated to decay occurs due to the exposed dentin tubules, which house nerve endings from the inner core (pulp) of the tooth. The active ingredients in desensitizing toothpaste, potassium nitrate and arginine, work by occluding the tubules and interrupting the neural response to pain stimuli.
  • Anti-calculus: Simply put, calculus is made of minerals, proteins, and bacteria from the saliva, often contributing to the destructive damage seen in periodontal disease. Anti-calclus toothpaste contains ingredients such as orthophosphate, pyrophosphate, pyrophosphatase, and zinc citrate, all of which work by disrupting the formation of calculus by altering the mineral contents in the saliva.
  • Anti-plaque: Dental plaque is caused by oral bacteria, so anti-plaque toothpaste are basically anti-bacterial toothpastes. Key ingredients found in anti-bacterial toothpastes include triclosan and zinc citrate.
  • Whitening: The majority of whitening toothpastes work by using an abrasive substance that removes a thin layer of stained enamel from the tooth surface. When using a whitening toothpaste, it is a good idea to consider the Relative Dentin Abrasion (RDA) value first. The Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) recommends a max RDA level of 200, while the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends a max RDA level of 250.

Please don’t hesitate to consult with your dentist about which toothpaste is best for your mouth!