Toothpaste Tutorial: Choosing the Right Types for You and Your Family
Head to the toothpaste shelf at your local supermarket and you’ll no doubt be faced with rows of tubes from a huge variety of manufactures in an ever larger variety of types. Whitening, anti-cavity, tartar control, sensitive formula…there’s seemingly one for just about every result you’re seeking and all the problems you’re having with your teeth.
So, how do you know which ones to choose? And can everyone in your household use the same toothpaste or do you need to buy several varieties for the many sets of teeth in your home?
If you live alone or as a couple with another individual, you may be able to get away with using just one tube of toothpaste, though you may have different tastes in flavors and other specifics like paste or gel. Different dental issues may also necessitate buying more than one tube. If you have little ones at home, you’ll certainly need to have a more diverse collection of dental care items in your medicine chest.
The toothpaste you use for your children will change as they grow. What might be right for your toddler may not be ideal for your older child. For example, you’ll want your child’s toothpaste to contain fluoride, but the toothpaste you’re using to brush your toddler’s teeth should have less fluoride than the paste for an older child. Stick to about 1,000 ppm (parts per million) for the little ones.
Sometimes, parents choose toothpastes that boast a fruity, sweet flavor. However, this isn’t always to your advantage as little ones need to learn that toothpaste isn’t food nor should it taste like it. Furthermore, when kids get older and need to use toothpaste with a higher fluoride content, they may be turned off by the more common minty flavors. So once they are able to be exposed to the higher fluoride levels, it’s okay to progress to “adult” toothpastes. Simply ask your dentist about the right amounts to use and how many times a day your child should be brushing.
Adult Products: Which one is right?
Here’s where the confusion sets in and, often, which toothpaste you choose comes down to personal preference, unless your dentist recommends a certain type to help combat any issues you might be having with your teeth. Here’s a list of what’s available:
- Flouride Toothpaste – This is probably the sub-type that’s been around for the longest. Even though many cities and towns now have public water that includes fluoride, many people still turn to this old favorite. These are especially good for individuals who take medications that cause dry mouth or others who are vulnerable to tooth decay for one reason or another.
- Tartar-control toothpaste – We all know that excess tartar leads to gum disease and that the easiest way to avoid serious gum disease is to subscribe to a regular cleaning by your dentist. However, if your dentist has noticed that you’re prone to a quicker buildup of tartar than most, he or she may recommend a tartar control toothpaste. Even if that’s not the case, it’s a good way to keep tartar in check and to make twice-yearly cleanings quicker and easier.
- Whitening toothpaste – Toothpastes that claim to keep your teeth white may help you maintain that pearly white quality, but if you have seriously stained teeth or teeth that are yellowing from age, you’ll probably need more than a whitening toothpaste to achieve the look you want. Nonetheless, once you’ve gotten a professional whitening job, this type of toothpaste is great for daily brushing. You’ll find that some contain peroxide to lighten teeth while others have baking soda as their active ingredient. Ask your dentist which, if either, is right for you.
- Breath-freshening toothpaste – Some toothpastes promise to help you control bad breath. Often, as with whitening, the active ingredient here is baking soda but there may also be an added flavor booster included. As such, you’ll usually find these two properties combined in, for example, an “Advanced Whitening, Breath-Freshening” toothpaste.
- Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth – These toothpastes are often recommend by dentists for those individuals who suffer tooth pain when consuming something very hot, very cold, or particularly sweet or acidic. This happens when enamel gets thin and/or gums recede, reducing protection to the tooth and root. Long-term use for at least a month helps you get the most from these types of toothpaste.