toothpaste photo

Photo by Arek Olek

How often do you think about toothpaste?

If you’re like most of us, the answer to that question is, “not particularly often.” In fact, it may be one of those things you just grab out of habit, without much thought to which type of toothpaste you’ve picked. Like anything else, though, there are a lot of things to consider when picking out toothpaste.

For instance, did you know that you can clean your teeth with baking soda? It’s true! One of the biggest parts of a well-made toothpaste is a soft micro-abrasive, used to–gently–scour your teeth and remove plaque. Baking soda–that is, sodium bicarbonate–has been used as an additive in many toothpastes, and micro-abrasives like it have been used to clean teeth for many, many years. However, abrasiveness isn’t the only thing to consider when picking a toothpaste!

There are a lot of things to consider when picking out toothpaste

Fluoride, an ingredient in most toothpastes (and a requirement for an American Dental Association seal of acceptance) has been known for decades to both prevent cavities and reverse the damage to teeth. If you’re looking for major landmarks in picking a toothpaste, this is one! Though all toothpastes, when used correctly, help prevent cavities and keep your mouth healthy, those that include fluoride are head and shoulders above the rest. Likewise, toothpastes that have fluoride as an ingredient have been shown to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce the acidity of the bacteria in your mouth.

Other variables in toothpastes exist, of course: if you’re looking for a toothpaste for sensitive teeth, for example, you’ll want to take a look at a sensitive-teeth toothpaste (most major brands have a specific sensitive-tooth line of toothpastes.) Likewise, if you’re looking for a natural toothpaste, many brands exist that use only natural ingredients. Take a moment to consider your particular requirements, and then do a little research on what types of toothpaste exist on the market.

If you’re concerned with the safety of a particular toothpaste, or if you’re prone to chemical sensitivity, don’t worry– there’s a toothpaste for that! It’s important to remember that, while all toothpastes have been designed for the consumer’s health and safety, you are putting a mild cleaning agent into your mouth. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) in particular is a chemical that has been known to cause irritation, especially in those who suffer from a sensitivity to chemicals. If you notice a bad reaction when using a toothpaste–irritated gums or mouth lining–then ask your dentist about safe alternatives.

Remember, whichever toothpaste you use, a pea-sized dab is typically enough. It’s important to use toothpaste, no matter which type you choose– brushing alone doesn’t remove the plaque that builds up on your teeth, and the ingredients in toothpaste also help to keep the plaque from coming back!