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How do I know which toothpaste to use?

Your choice of toothpaste will depend on your current dental status and needs. The following information aims to help you identify the appropriate toothpaste to use. Your hygienist or dentist can further help you choose a suitable toothpaste and provide you with information to ensure optimum oral hygiene.

Fluoride toothpaste

The decline in the prevalence of dental caries documented in most industrialised countries over the past 30 years can be attributed mainly to the widespread use of toothpastes that contain fluoride.

Fluoride helps to strengthen and protect teeth from harmful foods and beverages. Most toothpastes contain at least a small amount of fluoride, but some will contain larger amounts and these are designed for people who have weakened or diminished enamel.

If you’ve had concerns with cavities in the past, a toothpaste with a fluoride count of at least 1000 PPM will be the best choice for you.

Children’s toothpaste

Because children under the of age six years tend to swallow their toothpaste when brushing, there has been concern that the use of fluoride toothpaste containing 1000 to 1500 PPM fluoride could give rise to enamel fluorosis. Enamel fluorosis is a condition that can vary from minor white spots to unsightly yellow/ brown discolouration of the enamel due to excessive intake of fluoride. In response to the concern over enamel fluorosis, toothpastes containing less than 600 ppm fluoride have been formulated. Children are also usually fussier than adults when it comes to taste, texture and consistency, and these toothpastes have been formulated to address such concerns.

Sensitive toothpaste

One of the consequences of ageing is that gum margins may recede, exposing the root surface of some teeth. In certain instances this results in hypersensitivity and pain, especially when eating ice cream or drinking cold drinks. Toothpaste specifically formulated for sensitive teeth can be effective in relieving the pain; these products vary in the way they work and most contain compounds that block the nerves in your teeth from sensing hot and cold. While they offer great relief for people with sensitive teeth, it can take up to three to four weeks to see their full results, so some patience is needed.

If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, you should see your dentist or hygienist. They will diagnose the cause and provide treatment options accordingly.

Whitening toothpaste

Whitening toothpastes are being promoted primarily on the basis of cosmetic benefit. They are suitable for anyone whose teeth are aging or yellowing or for those who regularly consume coffee or tea.

While whitening toothpastes use silica, enzymes and/or trace amounts of bleach to scrub your teeth, lift stains and give you a whiter smile, they are not as effective as going to your dentist and getting your teeth professionally whitened. However, they do produce some good results if you want to brighten your smile.

Smoker’s toothpaste

People who smoke are more likely to have stained teeth. Most smokers’ toothpastes therefore use strong abrasives to remove these stains. It is important to be aware that vigorous brushing with more abrasive pastes may strip away and damage your tooth enamel over time.

As long as you see your dentist or hygienist every six months, they will be able to remove stains and tartar deposits without damaging your teeth.

Natural toothpaste

A wide range of “natural” toothpaste products is also available. These toothpastes are made from herbal extracts and other natural ingredients.

The health claims of many “natural” toothpastes have not been clinically proven. It is important to check whether these “natural” toothpastes contain fluoride, a proven active ingredient for the prevention of tooth decay.

Although there are many different types of toothpaste on the market, correct brushing technique is of the utmost importance, in conjunction with seeing your dentist and hygienist every six months to maintain your dental health.

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