Choosing the right toothpaste and mouthwash

Have you ever been in the dental aisle at the drugstore and completely overwhelmed by all of the different choices of toothpaste there are? It can be tricky knowing which toothpaste is the best for your health, especially with so many brands advertising themselves as “the best”.

We wrote this trying to will help you navigate the dental aisle more easily in order to make the best decision possible. Here are 9 tips for picking the best toothpaste for you:

Check the Ingredients for Fluoride

Fluoride is a major tool in fighting cavities. It protects the enamel layer that works to make teeth strong and less likely to be damaged by acids in our diet. Fluoride can also reverse early stages of cavities by remineralizing the teeth. By brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice daily you will be reaping a lot of benefits and keeping your teeth healthy. Keep in mind that fluoride is not in many natural toothpastes so be sure to check the label.

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Talk to your dentist and dental hygienist about specific concerns

If you have specific concerns in your mouth and want to be sure the toothpaste you are using is the best option, mention it to your hygienist and dentist at your next visit. If you have sensitive teeth, ask which brand they recommend is best. If your major concern is whitening, let them know and they can steer you in the right direction. Be sure to listen to which toothpastes not to purchase as research shows some toothpaste can be more harmful than others.

Read each ingredient on the label

There are loads of ingredients in toothpaste that can be confusing. We will review a few of the more common ingredients you may see to help navigate these labels:

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  • Some toothpaste may contain flavoring and other sweeteners like saccharin that can make them taste better.
  • If you see calcium carbonate and silicates know that these are abrasive materials that help to remove stains, food and bacteria from the teeth.
  • If the label has glycerol on it then the paste will be more like a gel formulation that keeps the toothpaste from drying out.
  • Agents that add thickness to the toothpaste include gums and gooey molecules that are found many times in seaweed. These help the texture.
  • Detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate are responsible for the suds you see when you brush your teeth and the paste foams up

Baking soda toothpaste is gentle and effective

Baking soda toothpaste has a lower abrasive quality to it than many others toothpastes yet it still does the trick with stain removal. If you have sensitive teeth but do not like sensitivity toothpastes, this may be the right choice for you. It gives you that refreshing feeling without the roughness you may have encountered with other types. Also baking soda has qualities that allow it to neutralize acids and absorbs odors in the mouth. It is commonly used in cleaning and deodorizing for these reasons.

Check for a seal of approval from the American Dental Association (ADA)

The American Dental Association has strict guidelines that it follows when determining which brands can display the seal. Participation is voluntary however so some brands that may be good may not carry the seal. It is important to consider but you should not use the ADA seal as your only criteria for choosing toothpaste.

If your teeth are sensitive, avoid whitening toothpaste

Often toothpaste that advertises itself as whitening toothpaste contains powerful ingredients that may irritate the teeth. Though they are generally safe, these materials can be abrasive, especially in patients that already have sensitive teeth.

Use caution when buying or making your own natural toothpaste

A key ingredient in toothpaste that helps protect the teeth is fluoride. Unfortunately in many natural and homemade types of toothpaste the fluoride is left out. There are many people that question whether fluoride is safe or not. As long as fluoride is used properly and not in excessive amounts it has proven cavity-fighting ability. Also understand that when using natural toothpastes you are at risk because some ingredients are in the same category as herbal supplements are therefore the jury is still out on whether or not they are safe. The FDA does not regulate natural toothpaste so there is no way to be certain unless you are inspecting the label and doing your research

Find out what works best for you

People are unique. A toothpaste that may work great for your husband might not work for you. Each person has their own chemical makeup in the saliva and you need to find what works best for you. Some toothpaste may make your teeth sensitive but not another’s. It is important to try different kinds and see what works best for you.

Discuss choosing the right toothpaste with your dentist

If you are not sure where to start ask your dentist and dental hygienist at your next check-up so they can help steer you in the right direction. Be sure to ask them for instructions on proper brushing and flossing techniques. Choosing the right toothbrush is also a big part of your oral health. There are toothbrushes that come in all different shapes and sizes and depending on the size, shape, and positioning of your teeth, there may be one that works best for you.

What about mouthwash?

Mouthwash is something that is often overlooked and as a result, people have a higher risk for gum disease and bad breath problems. Brushing and flossing do the best job when it comes to caring for your teeth and gums. However, mouthwash kills any bacteria left in your mouth that could be harmful to your teeth, gums, and overall oral health. Using an effective mouthwash is vital when it comes to having your oral health in tip-top shape.

While mouthwash should never be used as a substitute to brushing and flossing, it should still be used to keep cavities, bacteria, and plaque at bay. Mouthwash has been proven to be effective when it comes to preventing plaque and cavities, fighting off bacteria and keeping your breath fresh and clean.

What mouthwash should I choose?

Anti-plaque, anti-gingivitis, alcohol-free — your pharmacy’s oral health section has dozens of mouth rinse products to choose from, all promising to protect your teeth and gums and freshen your breath.

But how can you know which claims are true? And do you really need to use a mouth rinse — or is good brushing and flossing enough?

There are three major categories of mouth rinses, from a consumer perspective. These include mouth rinse products that contain fluoride, antigingivitis and antiplaque mouth rinses, and cosmetic mouth rinse products. Some of these mouth rinses are available over-the-counter; others will require a prescription.

Here’s what you should know when shopping for a mouth rinse:

Fluoride-Containing Mouth Rinses

Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by helping your body strengthen enamel (the white, harder-than-bone substance that covers teeth.) But most people will not require fluoride-containing mouth rinses. You pretty much get that from your fluoridated toothpaste. But, there are some exceptions.

People with xerostomia (abnormal dryness of the mouth) might use this kind of mouth rinse, and there are other reasons, like dental caries (cavities). Severe dry mouth can lead to a change in the bacterial balance of your mouth, while too much bad bacteria can lead to tooth decay. Fluoride mouth rinses can help prevent these problems.

Check with your dentist if you’re not using fluoride toothpaste. In this case, it might be a good idea to supplement your oral health routine with a fluoride mouth rinse.

Mouth Rinse to Freshen Your Breath

Many mouth rinses are available that make your breath smell good, but, they don’t necessarily offer any long-term dental health benefits.

Cosmetic rinses reduce mouth odors, or halitosis. Some do kill bacteria for a short time, but there is no lasting health impact that you could ascribe to them. The bacteria killed by these types of mouth rinses will grow back eventually, and while you’ll have fresh and minty breath in the short-term, these rinses don’t actually improve your oral health.

Anti-Plaque or Anti-Gingivitis Mouth Rinses

For adults, it’s a good idea to include this kind of mouthwash with brushing and flossing. Although brushing and flossing are the key components of good oral health, we don’t always do as good a job with these tasks as we should. Antiplaque and antigingivitis mouthrinses can give a boost to your dental care habits by killing potentially damaging bacteria.

If it has the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval that means that the claims made on the bottle have been verified by an independent scientific body. These rinses work by killing a different spectrum of bacteria than the breath-freshening rinses. Oral bacteria can cause gum disease, so using a rinse that eliminates some of these organisms will help your overall oral health.

For people with more serious oral health concerns, dentists can prescribe stronger mouth rinses.Another level is available by prescription to fight advanced plaque and gingivitis. This will keep inflammation down.

Mouth rinses do serve a purpose, whether to freshen your breath or help fight plaque and gingivitis. But, mouth rinses are not a substitute for regular and effective brushing and flossing. Don’t get lazy with your toothbrush and dental floss. And when choosing a mouth rinse product, pick one that has the ADA seal of approval.

FDA’s Warning to Mouthwash Makers

In September 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned a number of mouthwash producers — including Johnson & Johnson, CVS, and Walgreens — that they needed to stop making “unproven” claims in their packaging. The mouth rinses targeted were mainly those containing sodium fluoride, which has found to be an effective cavity-fighter but ineffective at removing plaque or preventing gum disease.

So there you have it, we hope this small guide to toothpaste and mouthwash has been helpful to you so you can make a better decision when taking care of your oral health. Remember that at the end of the day, if you still have any doubts regarding which product to buy, you can consult with a professional, like our very own Dr. Aparicio Miranda. Give us a call and get a consultation so we can guide you in your quest to a better dental health.

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