Recently I was at our local supermarket and noticed the shelf upon shelf of toothpaste that were available. It made me think how confusing it must be for patients to know what to buy. I have listed below the important factors to look out for:
- FLUORIDE:- It has been proven for over a hundred years that fluoride lead to a significant improvement in the dental health of the nation. It helps prevent cavities and should be present in concentrations of 1350ppm – 1450ppm (ppm = parts per million). However in children’s toothpaste the concentrations will be lower.
- DESENSITISERS:- A number of toothpaste claim to be better for sensitive teeth. They generally work by blocking the tiny pores on the root that become exposed over time and lead to sensitivity. Ingredients such as potassium nitrate, stannous fluoride, arginine and calcium sodium phosphosilicate (NovaMin) all have been proven to reduce sensitivity.
- GUM HEALTH:- Generally if you brush effectively twice a day and clean inbetween your teeth there is little need for further gum protection. However if you have been told that you are prone to gum disease then a toothpaste containing Triclosan will be of some benefit. Some toothpastes will also contain Chlorhexidine which has also been proven to help fight gum disease but it can also cause staining of teeth and patients often don’t like the taste of the toothpaste.
- WHITENING:- A lot of toothpaste that claim to whiten teeth actually only remove superficial stains. A change in the colour of your teeth can only be brought about by Hydrogen Peroxide and this is what Dentists use to bleach teeth. Hydrated silica, mica, & sodium bicarbonate are all used to remove stains from teeth and make your teeth look cleaner but they WILL NOT make your teeth appear whiter. The same can be said for charcoal toothpastes where there is a lot of celebrity endorsements but little scientific evidence to support its claims.
- SLS FREE TOOTHPASTE:- SLS or Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is a foaming agent used in toothpastes. In a small number of people it can be an irritant and cause mouth ulcers or exacerbate oral conditions such as Lichen Planus. Sensodyne Daily Care Original is one that doesn’t contain SLS but there maybe others on the shelves.