December 2011

Maybe the title should be Toothpaste 9-1-1. Either way we are here to help with the increasingly harder decision on which toothpaste is right for you.

Should you choose tarter control, whitening or one that does both? There’s paste or gel, total care, cavity protection, cool mint or bubble mint, all natural, with peroxide or without. Never fear, help is here.

Generally speaking, simple fluoride toothpaste is the best choice. Better yet it is usually the least expensive. Pastes and gels that contain a lot of extra chemicals can cause tooth sensitivity. We recommend Crest or Colgate Cavity Protection. Paste, gel and flavors are personal preferences.

This is not to say that all specialized toothpastes are without merit. Some we believe to be beneficial for certain wants and needs include:

• Prescription-strength fluoride toothpastes or rinses prescribed for people who are prone to excessive tooth decay or who do not produce enough saliva.

• Tom’s Toothpaste of Maine, which offers some natural alternatives for people who are sensitive to the foaming chemical Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) found in most toothpaste.

• Non-fluoride toothpastes for in young children unable to expectorate (spit), as swallowing toothpaste with fluoride can cause stomach upset.

Some other important things to note are:

• Whitening toothpaste may diminish surface stains but will not change the color and brightness of teeth. If tooth whitening is your goal, bleaching systems are vastly more effective.

• Denture wearers should never use toothpaste on their denture or partial. Denture creams are recommended due to the lack of abrasives that they contain. Toothpastes contain abrasives that can cause micro scratches in the acrylic consequently causing greater risk of stain.

• Dog owners need to be aware of the ingredient xylitol. This natural sweetener can be found in toothpaste, gum, mints and numerous other products, and can be deadly to dogs even in small doses.

• No matter which paste you are using, the action of brushing is most important. Brushing for two minutes, at least twice a day is recommended to keep teeth and gums healthy.

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