Toothpaste is a mainstay when it comes to caring for your teeth. But is it really an important part of oral hygiene? Professional dental organizations such as the American Dental Association report that toothpaste is important to the maintenance of oral hygiene. Toothpaste has active ingredients that not only clean teeth, but combat the factors that lead to gum disease. As there are many brands on the market, it is a good idea to understand the primary function toothpaste provides.
The Toothpaste Formula
Toothpaste is a product formulated to clean your teeth and maintain oral health. Ingredients usually include mild abrasives meant to clean teeth, such as calcium carbonate or hydrated silica. Another important ingredient is fluoride. Fluoride prohibits teeth decay and cavities. Beyond teeth cleaning and protection, other ingredients are added for aesthetic properties such as whitening agents, thickening agents, colorants, anti-drying agents and flavorings. Flavors are important because bad tasting toothpaste will see limited use. Flavors like menthol, cinnamon and mint are consumer favorites and make use much more likely.
The Importance Fluoride in Toothpaste
No one wants a mouth full of cavities. Brushing regularly with fluoride toothpaste is one way to keep cavities at bay. But how does fluoride prevent cavities? Teeth have a protective enamel surface and fluoride use helps keep the enamel from breaking down, slowing tooth decay. If you use fluoride toothpaste and develop cavities, it’s a good idea to see your dentist. You may not be getting enough fluoride to make a difference.
Is Fluoride Safety a Factor?
When it comes to products meant for human use and consumption, safety considerations are always a factor. The fact is, when used as intended and directed, toothpaste infused with fluoride is safe to use. Fluoride is a natural mineral found in drinking water and many other foods. Many studies show that fluoride is safe. In fact, the ADA recommends the use of fluoride toothpaste in the fight against tooth decay. Because of the many brands of fluoride toothpaste, one way to ease your fear about use is to select products with the American Dental Association seal of approval. This seal represents assurance that the formula is safe based on adherence to strict criteria for “safety and efficacy.”
Picking the Formula Right for Your Oral Health Condition
There are plenty of toothpaste formulas that address different oral health conditions, from keeping gum disease at bay to dealing with sensitive teeth or discolorations. When choosing a toothpaste right for you, consider your needs and wants. For example, do you need specialty toothpaste for tarter control or for reducing stains on your teeth? Perhaps you need a formula made specifically for sensitive teeth or to fight bacteria and gum disease. The choice is a personal one. If not sure, consult with a dental professional or choose a brand that has been evaluated and approved by the American Dental Association.
Beware of False Claims
When choosing toothpaste, beware of claims that the Food and Drug Administration refer to as unsubstantiated. The FDA prohibits product manufactures from making false claims about product qualities. For example, if toothpaste specifies that it fights gum disease, the FDA requires valid proof that it does just that. Additionally, the FDA requires that toothpaste meet specific requirement with regard to formula ingredients.
The bottom line is that toothpaste is important to daily dental hygiene routines. What matters most is that you use toothpaste regularly along with flossing to protect your pearly whites. If you have specific dental issues, look for toothpastes with active ingredients that address your problem areas. The FDA sets the standards for manufactures in terms of product ingredients and product claims. Products evaluated and approved by the ADA are good starting points.