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There are many ingredients that play a role in maintaining good oral hygiene and not everyone’s recipe is the same.  For some sensitivity is an issue, while others simply desire a whiter smile. But what everyone does have in common is the use of toothpaste to help them achieve their desired smile.

Since the beginning of human civilization there has been a strong desire for a clean mouth. Ancient formulations of toothpaste involved the use of mint and cinnamon flavoring in conjunction with abrasives made from ground up bones or shells.  It’s amazing how far modern dentistry has come!

Generally toothpaste is an abrasive gel that helps remove plaque and fight tooth decay.  Today many companies which produce oral hygiene products attempt to invigorate their products with new features. And with so many new alternatives on the market, Smiles Unlimited Dentistry, P.C., wants to help you choose the right toothpaste that fits your needs.  Here are some critical things to know:

ADA Seal – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration must test all toothpastes, but to be sure you are buying a quality product look for the American Dental Association seal of approval.  These toothpastes are thoroughly tested for safety and effectiveness.

Whitening – Whitening toothpastes work by including extra abrasives and special chemicals to polish and remove surface stains from teeth.  It is a cheaper alternative to many other whitening procedures, but it requires consistent use to be effective. Many of the additional abrasives can be rough on teeth and it is not recommended if you have weak enamel.  (For faster and more noticeable results, Smiles Unlimited Dentistry, P.C. offers several whitening alternatives).

Sensitivity – Sensitivity is caused by the exposure of lower layers of teeth caused by receding gums or grinding.  Toothpaste that helps reduce sensitivity works by relieving the pain and discomfort that occurs and building up a protective layer to create a barrier against a painful stimulus.  This toothpaste must be used for a few weeks in order to be effective.

Plaque, Tartar, and Gingivitis Protection – It is normal to have bacteria and plaque in your mouth.  The danger is in leaving plaque on your teeth. If plaque is not removed it turns into a hard substance called tartar which cannot be removed by brushing.  Bacteria, plaque and tartar that are left under the gums may develop into gum disease and gingivitis. Using a toothpaste designed to fight this bacteria can greatly reduce the opportunity for gum disease or gingivitis to develop.  

Fluoride – There is a trend today to reduce fluoride use and in some cases eliminate it completely.  Fluoride helps remove plaque and strengthen enamel. Research shows that fluoride is a critical component of maintaining good oral health, and when purchasing toothpaste you should make sure that it has fluoride.  On Long Island the vast majority of water is not fluoridated, which makes it even more important to use a toothpaste containing fluoride.

While considered safe to use in small amounts during regular brushing, toothpaste may be hazardous if swallowed in large amounts.  So be sure limit the amount of tooth paste on your toothbrush to only a pea size amount and remind your children not to swallow it even though it can be tasty.  If swallowing is unavoidable you can use a fluoride free option.

Happy Brushing!