It is a common question and, as, dentists and hygienists we are the right people to ask, we all know exactly which toothpaste to use. We recommend that all patients use the toothpaste we use, because, well, it is the best. That is why we use it!
But is that true? Many of us believe there is not much difference between any of the toothpastes, they all have fluoride (or should have fluoride, we learned that in hygiene or dental school) and they foam, so that is good. Soap foams when we clean our hands, so toothpaste that foams must be cleaning our teeth and mouth. Plus toothpaste is a paste because it is thick because it contains some kind of sand or abrasive and that is good, at least it makes sense that it is good because that would clean our teeth like sandy bathtub cleaners clean the porcelain of bathtubs. Plus we are dentists and hygienists so we should know. And, more than likely almost all of us use the toothpaste that we also hand out to patients in the office, since it is the least expensive we could order. Well, actually, we get our toothpaste for “free”, since it is at the office and we get to take some home, like the patients get to do.
But is the above adequate information and rational for us to recommend what we use, as the toothpaste everyone should use? Is it even a good rational for us to use the toothpaste we use?
There seems to be a vast array of toothpastes and new and improved ones appear everyday. The question is, Is one better than another? And is there a better fluoride or does any of it make any difference?
The answer is, perhaps, but it depends. I realize that is not a very satisfying response, but let me explain.
The key question you have to ask yourself or, for you as a patient, to ask your hygienist and dentist is: Why are you brushing your teeth? Now that may sound weird, but it is key to choosing your toothpaste and also choosing your fluoride or even choosing a toothpaste without fluoride. What? Without Fluoride, is there even such a thing?
Back to why are we brushing our teeth. If you have no dental problems meaning no decay, no gingivititis, no periodontitis and your teeth are as white as your want them, then whatever you are already doing and brushing with is working and there is no need to change.
But, if you have dental decay, then you need fluoride and any one of the 3 commercially available fluorides, sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride or sodium monofluorophosphate will work fine relative to helping minimize decay.
If you have gingivititis or your gum problems have advanced past gingivitis and you now have gum and supporting bone loss, therefore, by definition, you have periodontitis, then you need stannous fluoride. The stannous (tin) atom of the stannous fluoride molecule is toxic to gum bacteria, actually all bacteria, so it helps in fighting gum disease.
As a note, there is another molecule, Edathamil, found only in LivFresh Dental Gel, that is more effective at removing plaque from teeth and keeping it off. In fact LivFresh Dental Gel is more effective than stannous fluoride containing toothpastes at preventing and treating gum disease and it is available over-the-counter. If you want to avoid killing your oral flora while also treating your gingivitis, then LivFresh would be a good choice.
If you want whiter teeth and you don’t have dental decay or gum disease, then any whitening toothpaste will work or, for a special home cleaning, now and then, you can brush with baking soda. Wet your brush and put it in dry baking soda (not baking powder) and scrub your teeth vigorously with the crunchy crystals.
Once the crystals dissolve, then the baking soda won’t clean your teeth anymore, but by then your teeth are much cleaner and any stains have been removed and, if your underlying natural teeth are already white, then they are now whiter. If they are not white enough for you then you will have to get them bleached, since the unwanted color you are seeing is inside your teeth, not outside on the surface. I can say that with confidence because you just cleaned off all of the surface stain on the outside of your teeth with the baking soda.
So that is the toothpaste selection story. The best way to figure out what your teeth and gums need is to ask your dentist or hygienist, (that is the reason they invented dentists and hygienists) and then select the “toothpaste” you like, with the fluoride and other ingredients that will serve your teeth and gum’s needs. By the way, if you have decay or gum problems then whatever you have been doing is not working, you will have to make a change. You may as well get started now before more problems occur. And, by the way, the changes you will need to make will probably be more than just changing toothpaste.
That’s a Dental Tidbit. I hope you all enjoyed it. See you next time. And don’t forget to check out my other Dental Tidbits. Plus, if you have a dental question, please send it to me. You may find it becomes the topic of a future Dental Tidbit.