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Finding the Right Toothpaste for You

toothpaste types

What to Do When You Cannot Brush Your Teeth

Brushing twice each day is the best way to remove plaque and freshen your breath. Unfortunately, sometimes it's just not possible to brush. Whether you have forgotten your brush or do not have access to a sink, these tips can help you keep your teeth clean.

Take a Bite of a Crunchy Vegetable

Carrots, celery and other crunchy vegetables remove food debris and plaque from your teeth. Wash away loosened debris and plaque by rinsing with water after you eat these vegetables.

Stock up on Teeth Wipes

Carry teeth wipes with you just in case you need to clean your teeth but cannot brush. The individually packaged wipes can be used on teeth, gums and your tongue. Small bumps on the wipes help remove debris and plaque.

Chew Gum

Saliva neutralizes acids on your teeth and removes food debris. Sugarless chewing gum offers a natural way to increase saliva production and protect your smile.

Make a Baking Soda Paste

Combine baking soda with a small amount of water and rub it on your teeth with your finger to remove plaque. Baking soda can also help remove surface stains from teeth.

Do you feel a little overwhelmed when you visit the toothpaste aisle? With so many types of toothpaste available, it's not always easy to tell which type of paste is really the best choice. We have made the shopping process less complicated by explaining the benefits of several of the most popular types of toothpaste.

Cavity Protection or Anti-Cavity Toothpaste

You cannot go wrong with a toothpaste that promises cavity protection. Fluoride, the most important ingredient in anti-cavity toothpastes, strengthens your tooth enamel, removes plaque and makes it less susceptible to acids that cause tooth decay. Acids form when the sugars in food combine with plaque, a clear bacterial film that sticks to your teeth.

Most types of toothpaste, and some brands of mouthwash, contain fluoride. Many cities and towns also add the mineral to their water supplies to help reduce decay. Children had three times as many cavities before fluoride was routinely added to water, according to the American Dental Association (ADA).

Tartar Protection Toothpaste

If plaque is not removed from your teeth, it eventually turns into a hard deposit called tartar. Unlike plaque, tartar is visible and causes gray or brown spots on your teeth. It can only be removed using special dental cleaning instruments. Tartar is a problem because it can increase your risk of gum disease and cause your gums to recede. Tartar protection toothpaste contains ingredients that help stop the hardening process.

Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth

Do your teeth hurt after you eat or drink hot or cold foods or beverages? Toothpaste designed specifically for sensitive teeth may be just what you need to end your pain. These toothpastes use potassium nitrate or other desensitizing ingredients to reduce pain. Since sensitive teeth can be caused by cavities, infections, cracked teeth, receding gums and other dental problems, it's important to mention your symptoms to your dentist.

Enamel Protection Toothpaste

Demineralization causes tooth enamel to break down, increasing your cavity risk. Every day, acids attack the minerals that keep your enamel strong. Fortunately, the minerals are replaced by calcium and phosphate in your saliva, but if there is too much demineralization, tooth decay can still occur. In addition to fluoride, enamel protection toothpaste also contains calcium and phosphate to keep your enamel strong.

Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening toothpastes contain abrasive agents that remove surface stains from your teeth. If you have deep stains that penetrate your enamel, teeth whitening treatment may be a better choice. Whitening toothpaste must be used consistently for weeks before you notice an improvement. If it's too abrasive, it can damage your tooth enamel and expose the darker dentin layer below, which will make your teeth look duller.

Look for the ADA Seal

No matter what type of toothpaste you choose, make sure that the package features the ADA seal. The seal indicates that the toothpaste is safe and does exactly what it claims it will. The ADA conducts extensive tests on toothpastes and reviews clinical data before awarding a seal.

Regular exams, in addition to daily brushing, are an important part of good oral hygiene. Call us if it's time to schedule your next exam.


American Dental Association: Fluoride


Mayo Clinic: Does Whitening Toothpaste Actually Whiten Teeth?, 2/11/16


Prevention: What Kind of Toothpaste Should You Use, 2/1/13


American Dental Association: Learn More About Toothpaste


Colgate: Best Remineralizing Toothpaste for Enamel


Prevention: Try Nature’s Toothbrush, 11/3/11


Colgate: Healthy Lunch Ideas When You Can’t Brush Your Teeth


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