Tooth Truth: Right toothpaste puts a shine on the right dental need.
Ideally your dentist should be writing a prescription for your mouth. Though buying whichever toothpaste is on sale can be sufficient, people’s dental needs are different, and your toothpaste should address that, says Scottsdale dentist John Badolato.
“Unfortunately, there’s no one toothpaste for everybody. I wish there were,” says Badolato, of Studio B Aesthetic Family Dentistry. “Some people don’t respond as well to something that another would.”
Many people are concerned about cavities, and any fluoride-containing toothpaste is good for that, he says.
“Brushing not only breaks up the debris, but the fluoride actually strengthens the outer enamel, which makes the tooth resistant to decay. It can stop the decaying process,” he says.
He recommends Colgate Total as a good cavity-fighting toothpaste, not only because it has fluoride, but also because it contains and antibacterial agent.
“Among animal species, for how many bacteria species we have in our mouths, we’re second only to camels,” Badolato says. “Our mouths are dirty.”
The bacteria multiply and cause inflammation, which can lead to gum disease as well as bad breath – both big concerns among his patients.
The tongue is a magnet for bacteria.
“Your tongue is basically like a carpet. If you only brush your teeth and not your tongue, that carpet gets so dirty you can smell it,” he says.
Coffee doesn’t help.
“Coffee contains components that deposit on the tongue and stain the bacteria and make it odiferous.”
To fight bad breath, Badolato encourages patients to use CloSYSII, a toothpaste that contains chlorine dioxide to kill stinky bacteria. The paste also helps people with tooth sensitivity. But the compounds in it react badly with fluoride, so it doesn’t contain any, and people who use it must get fluoride treatments at the dentist’s.
Sensitivity is a common side effect of tooth whitening. The prescription-only Fluoridex toothpaste is not only formulated for sensitive teeth, it also has a lot of fluoride to protect the tooth enamel.
In some cases, users are sensitive to the toothpaste.
“Some people have sensitivity to fluoride or to an additive called sodium lauryl sulfate, which is a foaming agent. It gives you the idea your toothpaste is working, but in some people it can cause canker sores,” Badolato says.
He recommends CloSYSII for that, too, because it does not contain sodium lauryl sulfate.
There are also toothpastes for teeth that are spotted because a person has had too much fluoride or too little calcium when they were young. MI Paste “can reverse that, although it’s not a cure-all,” Badolato says. MI Paste is available through dentists.
Whitening toothpastes can brighten teeth, but not to the same degree as professional whitening.
“Studies show that baking soda and peroxide used together have whitening properties,” he says.
That combination helps remove stains, especially in those who smoke or drink a lot of tea or coffee.
“Basically, if you want to remove the stain, your going to whiten the teeth.”
Issue: Cavity prevention, all-around care
Toothpaste: Colgate Total
Why it’s good: It’s one of the few fluoride toothpastes that contain triclosan, and antibacterial that fights gum disease.
You should know: Most grocery store toothpastes contain fluoride, but few contain antibacterial agents.
Issue: Bad breath, sensitivity to sodium lauryl sulfate
Why it’s good: It contains chlorine disulfide phosphate, which breaks up odor-causing bacteria. It’s a low abrasive and doesn’t
contain sodium lauryl sulfate, a foaming agent that can cause canker sores.
You should know: CloSYSII does not contain fluoride.
Issue: Sensitive teeth
Why it’s good: Whitening can make teeth very sensitive, and Fluoridex contains a high amount of fluoride, which eases sensitivity.
You should know: Fluoridex is available by prescription.
Issue: Spots on teeth from fluorosis or hypocalcification
Toothpaste: MI Paste
Why it’s good: It can remove some of the spotting on the teeth.
You should know: MI Paste also helps people with dry mouth.