04 Mar Which Toothpaste Is the Best?
The other day I was at a supermarket when an aisle full of dental products caught my eye. I looked at it and felt really confused. Me, confused? But I am a dentist, I should be able to pick the best products with my eyes closed!
If only life was that easy… Let’s take one product, a toothpaste. There were at least 20 different ones with various claims: de-activating sugar acid in plaque, strengthens and re-hardens enamel, protects teeth from acid wear, teeth whitening, proven to reduce progression of gum disease and bleeding, reduces tartar, helps with teeth sensitivity, all round protection for all your family… and so on.
How do you pick the best toothpaste? Do you go by the price? Is an expensive one better than the cheaper one? Is one brand better than the other? If you believed the advertisements you would think that the dental industry is a hotbed of innovation where toothpastes have special powers that no other can match. Most of these claims are a PR drive to sell that specific product. The most important qualities in a toothpaste are the most basic ones.
Fluoride concentration is a big one. Dental professionals across the globe agree that fluoride plays an important role in preventing tooth decay. A general recommendation is a concentration of 1350- 1500ppmF to be most effective. However, children’s toothpastes should contain lower levels to make them safer. There are some other agents that might be beneficial, including Novamin, which bonds to the surface of the tooth to protect sensitive areas and Triclosan which is an effective anti-bacterial agent. Then there is Arginine and Sodium bicarbonate neutralising plaque acids and many others. But don’t get caught up in fancy names of new compounds. Provided the content of the fluoride is appropriate, which toothpaste you use is less important that how often you use it and well you brush your teeth.
Some people have a more holistic approach when choosing a toothpaste for various health reasons, however, from a clinical point of view a toothpaste without fluoride does not have the benefit of preventing decay (cavities). This could be balanced with an effective brushing technique coupled with low sugar diet and frequent visits to the dentist.