Not all types of toothpaste are the same, and different types are better suited for different needs depending on your age and a variety of other factors.
All types of teeth can benefit from types of toothpaste that contain fluoride and offer tartar control. If you are considering a whitening toothpaste, you should do some research and speak to your dentist before you begin using one. If you are unsure how to select a toothpaste to suit your needs, speak to your dentist or dental hygienist for suggestions based on your unique needs.
Look for the CDA Seal of Approval
You should choose a toothpaste that has had its health benefits verified by the Canadian Dental Association. You can do this by checking for the CDA Seal of Approval or by reviewing their list of verified products.
The CDA Seal program is used to ensure that the toothpaste and other dental hygiene products you choose can actually improve your oral health in ways the manufacturer claims and ensures that the product doesn’t make any health claims that can’t be verified.
However, though the CDA Seal is a mark of quality, that doesn’t mean that toothpaste brands without the stamp are unsafe. The CDA Seal verification process is very lengthy and thorough, so not all manufacturers choose to undergo it.
Fluoride is Critical
When selecting a new brand or type of toothpaste, make sure you choose one that is fortified with fluoride. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in soil, water, and a variety of different foods.
Fluoride plays a critical role in maintaining good oral hygiene because it protects your teeth from decay and can even reverse tooth decay in its early stages. Though many municipalities add fluoride to their drinking water, Calgary no longer does, so it is even more important to choose a toothpaste that contains added fluoride. Fluoride can also help reduce tooth sensitivity caused by thin tooth enamel.
The Benefits of Tartar Control
Different brands and types of toothpaste offer different levels of tartar control. Tartar forms when plaque is allowed to sit on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky, transparent film made up of food particles, bacteria, and other debris that collects on our teeth and can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
Tartar control toothpastes typically contain compounds such as sodium pyrophosphate or zinc citrate, which can help prevent tartar from forming, or sodium hexametaphosphate, which can prevent tartar buildup above the gumline.
However, though tartar-control toothpastes can help prevent tartar buildup, they can’t remove tartar that has already formed and don’t completely prevent tartar from forming.
When Considering a Whitening Toothpaste
Before you begin using a whitening toothpaste, or any other store-bought whitening product, you should be aware that whitening products can cause tooth demineralization (softening your enamel), increased tooth sensitivity, and gum irritation.
To avoid damaging your teeth or irritating your gums, you should speak to your dentist before you start using a whitening toothpaste.
As a general rule, whitening toothpastes are not nearly as effective as in-office whitening treatments.
What About Charcoal Toothpastes?
Though toothpastes containing activated charcoal are becoming increasingly trendy, there has not been a lot of research about the long term health effects. However, a 2017 review of the current research cautions dentists against suggesting charcoal toothpastes.
However, patients who are considering switching to a charcoal toothpaste should know that they are too abrasive for everyday use, and many brands don’t contain fluoride. They may also actually stain your teeth instead of whitening them. Charcoal toothpastes are also typically only able to remove surface stains and can wear down your enamel, making your teeth appear yellow and increase tooth sensitivity.
Children’s teeth are not the same as adult teeth and require special care and attention both at home and at the dentist’s office.
Children Under 3 Years Old
The Candian Dental Association currently recommends that children under the age of 3 should not use fluoride toothpaste unless specifically recommended by their dentist. If fluoride toothpaste is suggested, children under the age of 3 should have their teeth brushed with a small portion of toothpaste, only about the size of a grain of rice.
Children aged 3 or younger are typically not old enough to understand that toothpaste shouldn’t be swallowed. Swallowing too much toothpaste can lead to fluorosis, which can impact the visual appearance of teeth.
Children under the age of 3 should have their teeth brushed for them by an adult.
Children Aged 3 to 6 Years Old
Children between the ages of 3 and 6 may use fluoride toothpaste but only require a pea-sized amount. Children in this age bracket may brush their own teeth, but still require adult assistance to ensure that their teeth are cleaned effectively and that they are not swallowing their toothpaste.
What If My Child Swallows the Toothpaste?
Swallowing a small amount of toothpaste won’t typically cause more harm than an upset stomach. If this occurs, have your child eat a snack or beverage that contains calcium (such as milk, yogurt, or cheese). The calcium binds to the fluoride, settling the stomach.
However, if your child consumes a large amount of toothpaste (such as an entire tube) it can cause serious problems. If you think someone may have swallowed a large amount of toothpaste, call the Poison and Drug Information Service (Alberta & NWT) at 1-800-332-1414 and follow their instructions.
Tooth sensitivity is caused by a variety of factors including exposed roots, worn enamel, gum disease, damaged fillings, or a chipped tooth. Sensitive teeth typically have channels in their dentin that allow hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods to trigger the nerves in your teeth, causing pain.
Toothpastes formulated for sensitive teeth typically fill in these channels, allowing you to eat triggering foods and brush your teeth without pain. However, if your tooth sensitivity is caused by a cavity, chip, or damaged filling you should see your dentist for treatment as soon as possible.
If your teeth are incredibly sensitive, you may want to select a high fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride not only prevents tooth decay and gum disease, but it can also reduce the pain associated with sensitive teeth.
Depending on the severity of your tooth sensitivity, your dentist may also be able to prescribe a stronger toothpaste to suit your needs.
Patients who wear braces don’t require specialized toothpaste. Simply choose a toothpaste that contains fluoride and helps prevent tartar buildup. Braces can trap food particles and other debris, and increase the number of surfaces you need to clean to keep your teeth and gums healthy. A tartar control toothpaste can help reduce the amount of tartar that forms, while fluoride prevents tooth decay and gum disease.
If you are unsure how to clean your braces properly, you should speak to your dentist or orthodontist. They will show you how to clean and care for your braces and can offer toothpaste and other oral care product suggestions tailored to suit your needs.
Patients who are straightening their teeth with Invisalign also don’t require specialized toothpaste.
Ordinary toothpaste can damage dentures. Regular toothpastes contain abrasive particles, which can scratch your dentures, creating nooks and crannies that can harbour bacteria. Though you can use ordinary toothpaste on your remaining teeth, you should use a non-abrasive denture cleaner for your dentures. You should also never use bleaching products on your dentures.
If you are unsure how to properly clean and care for your dentures, speak to your dentist or dental hygienist. They can teach you how to care for your dentures and can offer suggestions for suitable denture cleansers.
Choosing the Right Toothpaste for Your Needs
If you are unsure how to determine which style of toothpaste is best suited to your unique needs, you should ask your dentist or dental hygienist for suggestions during your next appointment. Not only are these professionals up to date on the latest oral hygiene research, but they are also familiar with your unique dental needs.