One question we often get at the Center for Beautiful Smiles is “What kind of toothpaste should I use?” We recommend using an American Dental Association-accepted fluoride toothpaste. There are many toothpastes that include fluoride. There are also many that are marketed as helpful for certain problems or dental issues. Here are some of the common types with brief explanations of how they differ from the others on the market shelf. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call us. We are your Chula Vista dental office and here to help!
- Fluoride: fluoride toothpastes are widely used to prevent cavities. Fluoride is a naturally occurring element found in small amount in plants, animals, and some natural water sources. Toothpastes contain added fluoride (usually sodium fluoride) which has beneficial effects on the formation of dental enamel and bones.
- Desensitizing: desensitizing toothpastes contain chemical compounds (such as potassium nitrate) which depolarize exposed nerve endings in the pores of exposed dentin — this keeps the nerves from sending pain signals. It can take 2-4 weeks for the toothpaste to take effect. There are various other desensitizing toothpastes. Ask Dr. Pham if you have teeth that are sensitive to hot, cold, or sweets.
- Anti-Plaque/Tartar Control: tartar control toothpastes work by dissolving tartar deposits on teeth. (Tartar is hardened dental plaque, caused by the accumulation of minerals from saliva on plaque.) Zinc citrate is often the active ingredient. Sometimes triclosan, an antibiotic, is added as well to kill some of the bacteria in the mouth.
- Whitening: whitening toothpastes are for removing stains that have accumulated on the exterior of the teeth. They may contain peroxide but the majority of the whitening is done by added abrasives which gently polish the stains off.
- Breath freshening: most toothpastes are considered breath freshening toothpastes. Bad breath is generally caused by bacterial build-up in the mouth. Good oral hygiene, elimination of gum disease and professional cleanings are the best way to avoid bacterial build up and bad breath. Sometimes using a deodorizing toothpaste with ingredients like sodium bicarbonate or calcium bicarbonate can help as well.