Everyone knows that daily brushing, flossing, and annual visits to the dentist all lay the foundation for healthy and long-lasting teeth. Most of our mornings consist of waking up and going straight to the bathroom to brush our teeth, squeezing a nice amount of toothpaste on our brush in the process. The only thing is, do we know exactly what is in our toothpaste, or if it is the right one for our specific dental needs? As trained dental care professionals in Vancouver, we answer these questions for our patients all the time but there are so many others who should know more about toothpaste. Being that it is important to our daily life and that there are so many brands out there, here is some useful information about dental toothpaste.
Toothpaste was actually invented in 1850 by a man named Washington Wentworth Sheffield, a dentist from Connecticut. He called his creation Crème Dentifrice and included ingredients such as salt, crushed bone, ashes from fire, and baking soda. Obviously, we have come a long way since then! The addition of fluoride to toothpaste, and even the public water supply in most areas, has been greatly beneficial in helping eradicate tooth decay and suppress cavities across the board by strengthening teeth.
Shopping for toothpaste can be overwhelming, but always keeping one question in mind can make deciding a little bit easier: which type of toothpaste is right for me and my family? We will start with the basics. The first thing you want to do is make sure your toothpaste is branded with the Canadian Dental Association Seal of Approval. You can find a list of all recognized products here but chances are that if it is sold by a major retailer or pharmacy in Canada, it is recognized. The reason why going with a recognized product is important is because it has been deemed safe and effective after careful review by a board of dental experts. The CDA recommends that you avoid any imposters from foreign countries that might have more lenient regulations.
Once you have a product that is recognized, you then want to make sure that toothpaste serves your individual needs. Are your teeth looking discolored and you’re looking to brighten them up a bit? Go with a whitening toothpaste. Experiencing sharp tooth sensitivity when drinking hot or cold liquids? Sensitivity toothpaste will work wonders for that. There are not only countless brands to choose from but each one has a multitude of toothpastes that meet different needs during brushing.
With whitening toothpaste, the objective is to end up with a visibly brighter smile after several days or weeks of use. Toothpastes like Colgate Optic White or the Crest® 3D line are excellent choices for this. They do not contain any harsh chemicals (such as hydrogen peroxide or calcium peroxide) that over time can strip away the natural enamel on your teeth or even have the adverse effect and yellow them.
Sensitivity toothpaste contains two main ingredients: potassium nitrate and strontium chloride. These chemicals negate pain signals to the nerve of the tooth by building up blockages between the tooth’s surface and inner nerves. Results can be seen within two days to a month depending on frequency of use and the brand. Great toothpastes for helping with sensitivity include Sensodyne ProNamel® and the Arm and Hammer™ Sensitive line. The latter is especially good because it relies on baking soda as a main ingredient, which neutralizes acid in the mouth and does not wear away enamel.
A third type of toothpaste that is very important for the little ones is children’s toothpaste. Fluoride is a fantastic ingredient for most people, but in high doses can be toxic. Children are very susceptible to an overexposure of fluoride (known as fluorosis) due to their affinity to swallowing during and after brushing. Therefore, having toothpaste for your child that is safe to swallow is very important. It is also important to note that no matter what, using no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for your child’s brushing should always be a rule of thumb. Some brands worth taking a look at include ProNamel® for Children and Tom’s of Maine Natural Fluoride-Free Toothpaste for Children. There are a variety of non-fluoridated toothpastes to choose from, since it is not recommended for your child to use fluoridated toothpaste until the age of three.
Many concerned citizens have decided to ditch regular store-bought toothpaste altogether in exchange for a homemade recipe found online. This is because of fears that certain ingredients in toothpaste might actually cause more harm than good, such as Triclosan, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), and Fluoride, to name a few. Although it would be impossible to guarantee that toothpaste is completely harmless to most people, what we can guarantee is that homemade toothpaste can be extremely dangerous if misused. Avoid mixtures with too much salt or baking soda as this can leave your enamel stripped. In terms of flavouring, try to avoid using peppermint essential oil, as it can cause severe heartburn if some is accidentally swallowed. Above all else, whether you are using store-bought or organic homemade toothpaste, the most important thing you can to do prevent tooth decay is watch what you put in our mouth. Maintaining a healthy diet by avoiding processed foods and refined sugar is much more likely to keep your mouth healthy than not.
Be sure to speak with one of our East Vancouver dentist about any questions or concerns you may have about choosing a toothpaste that is right for you and your family. We can help you by recommending brands (or even recipes) depending on your situation and feelings towards store brands.