Let’s make something clear right off the bat: if you aren’t diligent about brushing and flossing, no miracle toothpaste in the world will preserve your pearly whites. However, if you do follow your dentist’s advice, the right dentifrice can go a long way in preventing gum pain, stained teeth, enamel erosion, cavities, and other more serious issues.
In making our best brand list, we took into account the fact that many people have different concerns, and we identified what we deem to be the most-effective toothpaste for each of five frequently cited categories.
It sounds simple, right? Go to the local drugstore, and pick a box of toothpaste off the shelf – easy-peasy! Not so anymore: the market is flooded with options and you can be overwhelmed by what should be a quick decision.
Ada Cooper, DDS, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association (also called ADA) says the first thing you should always do is look for the ADA seal on the box. It shows that the product has undergone extensive testing, it lives up to its claims, and the ingredients are effective. She adds that factors like gel or paste, cinnamon-flavored or spearmint, have no bearing on the dentifrice’s ability to combat problems.
When you wake up in the morning and you feel like your teeth are wearing fuzzy sweaters, that’s plaque at work. 24/7, this sticky film of bacteria is trying to coat your teeth. Worse, it interacts with certain foods—primarily sugars—to produce acids that chew away at your teeth’s enamel, which results in tiny holes (cavities) or erosion.
The solution? The ADA refers to it as “nature’s cavity fighter” — the mineral fluoride, which coats teeth and protects them from cavity-causing acids. And while most toothpastes contain fluoride, you can rest assured any product that has the ADA seal and claims to be “anti-cavity” will fit the bill.
Tartar, or “calculus,” comes from bacterial plaque that has hardened. And no matter how often you brush, once it has formed, only that little pick-with-a-punch that your dentist has can scrape it off. However, toothpastes containing tartar-fighting elements can prevent the plaque from hardening. Look on the label for ingredients like pyrophosphates or zinc citrate. Crest Tartar Protection is one ADA-approved option.
Another easy tip: next time, try brushing and spitting—but not rinsing. This leaves the fluoride behind and gives the ingredient more time to work, an added safeguard.
Whitening toothpastes have been all the rage the last couple of years. These products contain mild abrasives that help polish teeth and prevent the buildup of additional stains. It’s important to note, however, that they will likely not be able to remove stubborn, older discolorations.
To flash a brighter smile, look for pastes or gels that contain modified silicone abrasives. Our vote goes to Rembrandt Deeply White. If you’re not satisfied with the results after one month, ask your dentist about other teeth whitening solutions.
Contrary to popular belief, all-natural, herbal toothpastes can be just as effective as regular toothpaste. The all-natural brand Tom’s of Maine offers ADA-approved whitening and anti-cavity options. One to try: Tom’s of Maine Antiplaque and Whitening Fluoride-Free Toothpaste.
If your dental professional has ruled out cavities or root infections, you may have extra sensitive gums or exposed roots, which aren’t necessarily signs of poor brushing or flossing habits.
Look for toothpastes containing a desensitizing ingredient like strontium chloride or potassium nitrate (either will do) to help lessen the pain. One we like: Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste.
Don’t be swayed by marketing claims — toothpastes for regular teeth will work just as well for dentures. Fizzy tablets or solutions have also been shown to clean well. Our choice: Fixodent Antibacterial Denture Cleanser Plus Scope.
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