The very first thing you should know about toothpaste, and it comes as a surprise to most people, is that you don’t really need it to keep up with good oral hygiene. After this “paradigm shifting” assurance, we’re able to really impress upon folks that regular brushing is exponentially more important for the removal of bacteria and plaque than any mint-flavored paste.
No matter how much money you spend on the best toothpaste, you need the mechanical action of brushing to get the job done. That said, the toothpaste options are vast, and some do have measurable benefits outside of basic tartar removal.
Toothpaste is a universal health item. It helps you remove food leftovers from your mouth and protect your teeth from plaque, and it freshens your breath. Toothpaste’s common active ingredients are tried and true, secret agents on a mission to prevent the decay of your teeth.
Types of toothpaste
There are two general categories of toothpaste. The one most of us use falls into the standard, commercial category. Regular, commercial toothpastes are those that can be found anywhere—over the counter in the supermarket, local shops…you can even find them at gas stations.
There are millions of standard toothpaste products varying in content, flavor and quality, though the vast majority of them share key similarities. Commercial toothpastes are comprised of 20-40% water and around 50% of abrasive substances. The residual matter is usually filled with fluoride, antibacterial ingredients, and flavorants.
The second type of toothpaste is medical, or therapeutic, toothpaste. Products from this category are not typically for continuous use; rather, they are suggested to you by your dentist when you’re struggling with specific dental issues.
A brief overview of therapeutic toothpastes
- Toothpastes for remineralization of damaged enamel and maintenance of oral health are especially common among certain risk groups (for example, pregnant women). These products usually contain an organically mixed flour known as aminfluorid, so be sure to discuss options and ingredients with your dentist if you’re concerned about allergies.
- Toothpastes for gums are helpful when you’re struggling with hypersensitive or bleeding gums. Some patients say these toothpastes have an unpleasant taste, as they do not come with flavor agents—but they definitely won’t irritate your gums.
- Toothpaste for sensitive, but otherwise healthy teeth are beneficial for some patients with special sensitivity.
- Toothpastes for teeth polishing do not have abrasive agents, and so you will likely be recommended to use them only once a week. After all, it’s the abrasive quality of toothpaste that helps get more brushing done.
Are toothpastes without fluoride as efficient as those with it?
If you want to try out alternative oral products that do not contain fluoride, this is a personal choice—just ask your dentist so you can make the choice with as much information as possible.
Many companies manufacture herbal toothpastes without artificial ingredients such as fluoride or sodium lauryl sulfate. Instead, they often contain ingredients like aloe, baking soda, eucalyptus and essential oils, various plant extracts, etc.
In the right amounts, fluoride is good for supporting the strength and remineralization of your teeth, which means it helps protect you from plaque and decay. That said, we return to our higher wisdom here to remember that the mechanical brushing is what really cleans your teeth, not the paste. And so, if you’re attracted to a toothpaste with more natural ingredients, the important thing is that you just keep brushing.
For any questions, reach out to us! Or, ask about toothpaste the next time you’re in our office!