For most people, brushing teeth twice daily is a chore but as everyone knows, this oral care habit is one of the most essential ways we can safeguard our teeth. Equally important is what you put on your toothbrush – toothpaste. The toothpaste you decide to use on a daily basis will have long term effects on your future oral health.
The components of toothpaste
When choosing the right toothpaste for your oral health needs, it helps to know the basic components of any toothpaste.
- Abrasive agents – Most toothpaste brands contain abrasive agents designed to help “scrub” away bacterial plaque in combination with your brushing action. These abrasives typically utilise silicates such as calcium carbonate and hydrated silica. Harsh abrasives such as charcoal infused toothpaste should be avoided as they can wear out your enamel with long term use.
- Detergents – Toothpastes also contain detergents that foam up to help loosen and break down stubborn plaque.
- Fluoride – To help protect your teeth, good toothpaste should also contain fluoride which has been proven to reduce tooth decay by strengthening your tooth enamel.
- Artificial flavours & sweeteners (e.g. mint) are also added to make toothpaste taste more palatable, otherwise most people might find toothpaste unpleasant to taste.
- Bleach – Whitening toothpastes include abrasives and a bleaching agent such as hydrogen peroxide.
- Salts – For those with sensitive teeth, the active ingredients are either strontium or potassium based salts. These specialised salts can fill in the tiny holes on teeth enamel surfaces that cause tooth sensitivity.
- Anti-bacterial agents – If you are at higher risk of tooth decay, there are fluoride toothpastes that contain anti-bacterial ingredients to help improve your oral hygiene.
Tips for choosing the right toothpaste
Dr Mikaela Chinotti from the Australian Dental association (ADA) recommends the following tips when choosing the right toothpaste for you and your family members:
- Ensure your toothpaste contains fluoride. If in doubt about this ingredient, consult with your dentist.
- Select children’s toothpaste with low fluoride for kids aged between 1½ to 6 years old.
- Make an informed choice when choosing your toothpaste. Look beyond aesthetically pleasing packaging and select toothpaste that caters for your oral health needs.
- For individuals with heightened sensitivities, there are toothpastes that don’t contain flavours, sweeteners and high-foaming detergents.
- Look for toothpaste products with the Australian Dental Association’s (ADA) seal of approval. These products have been reviewed and approved by a panel of the ADA’s top oral health experts.