Oral hygiene may entail several steps, but you will probably agree that toothbrushing is the crux of dental care. It only requires two components – three if you count commitment and consistency – so nailing both is crucial. Finding the best toothpaste and toothbrush for your needs is half the battle.
Searching for the ideal toothbrush needs a separate discussion. The amount of toothpaste in the market is overwhelming enough. Different brands and types cater to specific needs and lifestyles. There are your usual all-arounders, whitening, cavity protection, and fresh breath. Others are more specialised – for sensitive teeth and gums, for gingivitis, and for plaque and tartar.
For example, check for whitening ingredients, such as peroxide, if teeth stains are your concern. Studies show that whitening toothpaste is effective with continuous use. However, more research found that whitening toothpaste may also damage your enamel. Weigh the pros and cons. The best toothpaste is one that checks all your boxes – and takes care of your teeth.
Learn the benefits of various toothpaste ingredients to check which ones you need.
Checking for the Best Toothpaste Ingredients
The goal of any toothpaste is to clean your teeth. However, some ingredients perform better than others. Check the labels to make sure your toothpaste is doing its job.
1. Fluoride is a must.
The best toothpaste brands will always have fluoride, which is essential in preventing tooth decay. Sodium monofluorophosphate (MFP), sodium fluoride (NaF) and stannous fluoride (SnF2) are usually the types of fluoride you find in toothpaste.
2. Potassium nitrates protect your teeth.
Your teeth’s dentinal tubules are responsible for sensitivity. These small and hollow channels travel from inside the tooth through the dentine or the middle layer. When the enamel on the surface gets worn, the dentinal tubules become exposed, which increases sensitivity. Potassium nitrate helps cover them up again, protecting your teeth.
3. Whiten with peroxide.
As mentioned earlier, peroxide is one of the most popular whitening agents. For over 80 years, peroxides such as hydrogen peroxide and carbamide have been bleaching teeth safely to make them look whiter. But it is an indispensable ingredient because it is also effective at preventing plaque formation and gingivitis, killing bacteria in the mouth, and speeding up healing – on top of whitening teeth.
4. Fight plaque with zinc citrate.
Zinc citrate keeps plaque at bay and helps freshen breath by reducing the odorous compounds in the mouth caused by bacteria. A paper in the International Dental Journal demonstrates that toothpaste with triclosan, copolymer, and 2% zinc citrate inhibits plaque better versus toothpaste without zinc citrate.
Other Things to Check in Your Toothpaste
As in this list, fluoride should be your top criterion when checking for ingredients. The Australian Dental Association (ADA) says that adult toothpaste should contain 1000 to 1500 parts per million of fluoride, while children’s toothpaste should have 500 parts per million.
Aside from the earlier ingredients, toothpaste will typically contain the following:
Surfactants maximise effectiveness.
Surfactants provide foam during brushing. It spreads toothpaste around the mouth more effectively and allows you to scrub any food particles stuck to the teeth. It also helps break up plaque formation and inhibits bacteria growth in the mouth. Common surfactants include sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), cocamidopropyl betaine, and sodium methyl cocoyl taurate (adinol).
Abrasive agents scrub more thoroughly.
Abrasive agents are safe for use in toothpaste and work to mechanically clean stains and dirt on the surface when you brush. Abrasives in toothpaste include calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate salts, silica, magnesium carbonate, and alumina.
Thickeners keep the toothpaste together.
Thickeners or binders keep a toothpaste’s ingredients from separating. These may include natural gums such as xanthan gum, mineral colloids, seaweed colloids, or synthetic cellulose.
Flavours motivate you to keep brushing.
According to the ADA, you should brush your teeth at least two minutes at a time. This makes flavour a necessary component.
While fluoride does wonderful things for your teeth, it’s yucko, taste-wise. Flavours make the entire brushing experience more pleasant. Minty ingredients, like spearmint or peppermint, make your breath feel and smell fresh. These are usually balanced with non-sugar sweeteners such as xylitol, sucralose, or sodium saccharin to balance the mint flavour.
Humectants give it creaminess.
Are you wondering how toothpaste can take on a creamy paste or gel form? Thank humectants such as glycerol or sorbitol. These help the entire product retain water and prevent it from drying out.
Solvents make toothpaste easier to use.
According to ADA, water and humectants compose 75% of the volume of toothpaste. Water is typically included as a solvent within the toothpaste, which hydrates the thickeners and makes them easier to spread.
Buffers add balance.
Buffers such as phosphates and sodium citrate prevent the toothpaste from turning too acidic, which can harm your teeth.
Colours make it fun.
Some products may contain titanium dioxide to make toothpaste look white, while others add food-grade colouring agents to make them attractive.
Brushing your teeth – with the right toothpaste – is crucial in keeping your oral health in top shape. But sometimes, even the best toothpaste isn’t enough. For example, crooked teeth make you more susceptible to dental problems even with consistent toothbrushing. You can remedy this situation with an aligner, such as ClearCorrect, which offers comfort and effectiveness – without disrupting your lifestyle. Visit your dentist for more ways to take care of your teeth.
Vaz, V. T. P., Jubilato, D. P., De Oliveira, M. R. M., Bortolatto, J. F., Floros, M. C., Dantas, A. T., & De Oliveira Júnior, O. B. (2019). Whitening toothpaste containing activated charcoal, blue covarine, hydrogen peroxide or microbeads: which one is the most effective? Journal of Applied Oral Science, 27. https://doi.org/10.1590/1678-7757-2018-0051
De Mello Rode, S., Sato, T. D. P., De Souza Matos, F., De Oliveira Correia, A. M., & Camargo, S. E. A. (2021). Toxicity and effect of whitening toothpastes on enamel surface. Brazilian Oral Research, 35. https://doi.org/10.1590/1807-3107bor-2021.vol35.0025
Adams, S., Theobald, A., Jones, N., Brading, M. G., Cox, T., Mendez, A., Chesters, D., Gillam, D. G., Hall, C. M., & Holt, J. (2003). The effect of a toothpaste containing 2% zinc citrate and 0.3% Triclosan on bacterial viability and plaque growth in vivo compared to a toothpaste containing 0.3% Triclosan and 2% copolymer. International Dental Journal, 53(6), 398–403. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1875-595x.2003.tb00916.x
Brushing teeth – Australian Dental Association. (n.d.). Teeth.org.au. https://www.teeth.org.au/brushing-teeth