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 Are All Toothpaste the Same? 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Integrative Dentistry by . View all columns in series
The store sections on toothpaste and mouthwash can be absolutely overwhelming and very confusing to the layman. So most base their decision on what type of toothpaste or mouthwash to use on the advertisements they’ve seen, heard or read about. Toothpastes are now divided into specialty toothpastes, such as: tarter control, whitening, plaque control, smoker’s, sensitive, fresh breath, and natural types.

There are certain basic ingredients that toothpastes and mouthwashes contain. Toothpaste contain water, a foaming agent, an abrasive form of substance and flavoring. Many add colorings and artificial sweeteners. Within this parameter there are hundreds of types of toothpastes that claim to outdo each other.

There are no studies that actually suggest any toothpaste remove tartar. Once tartar forms, it can only be removed by the dentist or dental hygienist and the tools they use to scrape it off. However, any toothpaste can help prevent tartar build up, if brushing and flossing are used properly and regularly. Nevertheless, professional cleanings are very important two times a year. The tartar control toothpastes may contain some chemicals that cause allergies. Reports have suggested asthma types of side affects, as well as cold sores on the lips from using some of these tartar control toothpastes.

Baking soda and hydrogen proxide toothpastes have been very popular in the last few years. Baking soda has been used even before toothpastes were actually manufactured. However, by itself it can be too abrasive. Hydrogen peroxide may be hazardous to the gums and should not be used on a daily basis, even when it’s in a toothpaste form.

Fluoride in toothpaste have been shown to strengthen teeth and reduce cavities. However, if your drinking water is fluoridated, only use a very small amount of fluoridated toothpaste when you brush. I don’t recommend fluoride in children’s toothpaste. Many of these are very sweet and with added glitter, the child may want to swallow it. Reports have been given as to death of children from overdose of swallowing these types of toothpaste. It’s much better to use a non-fluoridated toothpaste for your child, and have the dentist give fluoride treatments during regular visits.

Whitening toothpaste have also become very popular. The sad news is that there is no such thing as toothpaste that can truly whiten the teeth. These toothpastes may remove stains by containing certain strong abrasives. One such abrasive is sodium pyrophosphate and it should be avoided. Other types use titanium dioxide which is safer. Some individuals do notice a change with these toothpastes, while other see no change. Professional teeth whitening is the best way to whiten the teeth without damage to the gums and teeth.

Sensitive teeth also have their own brands of toothpaste. Different active ingredients are used to help with sensitivity. Such ingredients include salicylates, potassium nitrate or sodium citrates. You may want to experiment with these toothpastes, but a safer method is to determine the cause of the sensitivity and treat that. Sensitivity may be cause by receded gums. Brushing with fluoride may help or the dentist can apply a desinsitizing agent on the area that will reduce the sensitivity.

Proper brushing and flossing and good diet are the best way to prevent cavities and gum disease. There are many natural types of toothpastes without the added artificial ingredients that are much safer and just as effective as the popular commercial ones. Also make sure you brush your tongue once or twice a day and get professional cleanings twice a year.

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 About The Author
Flora Stay, DDS holds a doctor of dental surgery degree from University of California, San Francisco. She is the founder of ...moreFlora Stay DDS
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