CHOOSING A TOOTHPASTE
While toothpaste (dentifrice) is a valuable adjunct to a toothbrush in oral hygiene, it is the correct brushing action that removes the plaque (a sticky mixture of bacteria, food and debris) from your teeth.
Any brand of toothpaste that contains fluoride and the American Dental Association Seal of Approval to attest that there is evidence of its safety, reliability and effectiveness through clinical trials, is acceptable. It makes no difference if the toothpaste is a gel, paste or powder, or which flavoring agent is used. However, from an individual motivational standpoint, and assuring its use, these characteristics may be important.
Other than fluoride, which strengthens the enamel and fights decay, toothpastes contain abrasives to remove stains and polish the teeth and ingredients to leave the mouth with a clean, fresh feeling.
If your teeth are sensitive to hot or cold, choose a desensitizing paste with either strontium chloride or potassium nitrate as an added ingredient. Expect about 4-6 weeks to see real improvement.
There are brands of toothpaste that advertise "tartar control" and usually have the active ingredient pyrophosphate. While it will not remove tartar, studies have shown it will reduce tartar formation up to 36%. Tartar (calculus) can only be removed with a professional prophylaxis (cleaning).
Many toothpastes now contain baking soda, which is less abrasive. This is advantageous for reducing tooth sensitivity in people with gum recession or those who have eroded their teeth by rigorous brushing with an abrasive toothpaste.
Bleaching teeth to make them lighter has become popular. If you desire a whitening toothpaste, look for the active whitening agents of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. These toothpastes serve best to maintain the tooth shade after bleaching procedures. Call your dentist if you have bleaching questions.
If you wear partial or full dentures, they will also stain and absorb odors. Ask your pharmacist to recommend an ADA-accepted denture cleaning paste and/or solution.
When brushing, it is not necessary to overload your brush with toothpaste. Squeeze a pea-sized amount on the top of the bristles. Correct brushing techniques will cause the paste to foam and cover all of your teeth.
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