Choosing a toothpaste can be very confusing. When we look at the oral health aisle, there are hundreds of different toothpastes making different claims. Some of the claims can be worded differently, but mean the same thing. Reducing plaque, reducing gum disease and reducing bacteria are all the same thing.
As a general recommendation, Colgate Total is good as it has an antibacterial that makes it more effective than a toothpaste with abrasive and fluoride alone. Unfortunately it is bad for rivers, lakes and streams, affecting the flora.
For those who suffer from gum disease, chlorhexidine containing toothpastes are great (Curasept range), but they cannot be mixed with regular toothpaste and they can cause staining. They can also be more expensive than a regular toothpaste.
Whitening toothpastes are not recommended as they are too abrasive and will cause worn enamel. The more worn the enamel gets, the darker the teeth appear, so the worse it can get. Sensodyne have recently launched a low abrasion whitening paste that helps prevent stain build up rather than try to remove existing stains (and enamel). It is part of their Repair and Protect range.
There are toothpastes on the market now that can actually repair damaged tooth structure e.g. Sensodyne Repair and Protect, which actively re-mineralises teeth. They contain an active ingredient called Novamin, that helps to re-mineralise the tooth. RecalDent, another similar formula, developed in Melbourne, is a part of many adjuncts to toothpaste, such as Tooth Mousse, or chewing gum with RecalDent.
For those that get sensitive teeth, a sensitive toothpaste is best. Colgate make Sensitive Pro-Relief and Sensodyne do a complete range of toothpastes.
Pronamel, from Sensodyne, is great for those with acid wear, called dental erosion. This can be a particular problem for those that have a diet high in acidic foods or drinks, or those that suffer from stomach problems like acid reflux or heartburn.
For those with mouth ulcers, avoiding toothpastes with SLS (the foaming agent) can be helpful, as they can be an irritant.
Overall though, the most important factor is reducing sugars, proper tooth brushing technique and avoiding brushing for 30-60 mins after acidic foods or drinks. Most of the major brands are good and a lot of the differences are just flavours unless you are trying to address a specific problem. Your dentist will be happy to recommend a toothpaste for you and we often stock free samples of the popular toothpaste brands. Of course you can shop online for our oral health products also.