When it comes to choosing a toothpaste that is right for you, there are a few questions to consider when making your choice. Since the average person brushes their teeth around 730 times a year, and our gum tissue is extremely delicate, it is important to educate ourselves about the toothpaste products we repeatedly use.
Questions to consider when choosing your toothpaste:
- What do I want my toothpaste to accomplish?
- What is the purpose of this toothpaste?
- How abrasive is this toothpaste?
- What ingredients are used in this toothpaste?
- Do I have any allergies to these ingredients?
Toothpaste should serve a function. Believe it or not, the goal of toothpaste is NOT to remove plaque, biofilm or bacteria. Toothpaste was designed to add flavor like mint, to your morning and evening brushing routine. Unfortunately, this minty flavor is designed to leave you with a tingly, numbing feeling that misleads you into thinking that your teeth are clean. Guess what? You get that same tingly, fresh breath feeling right after eating a piece of Andes chocolate mint. The mint flavor masks the filth in our mouths. So please realize that toothpaste is NOT responsible for removing the bacteria in your mouth, your toothbrush is.
If you are looking for a toothpaste to help keep your bacteria levels down, remineralize your enamel, or counteract the effects of dry mouth/xerostomia, look for products that include Xylitol. Xylitol is a natural sweetener derived from the fibrous parts of plants. It does not break down like sugar and can help keep a neutral pH level in the mouth. Xylitol is cariostatic, meaning it prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth. **NOTE: Keep this away from your dog. Unlike humans, a dog's liver is unable to process this (as well as a lot of other human food items), and serious hypoglycemic effects may occur in them.
Ahh… the abrasiveness of toothpaste. Nature gave us the gift of strong, hard enamel. Enamel is comprised of calcium phosphate and is the hardest substance in the body. That being said, enamel is also extremely permeable to acids and is easily scratched over time. Toothpaste can be both good and bad. A good toothpaste has minimal ingredients in it, Xylitol or Fluoride, and is a low abrasive (SEE CHART BELOW). A bad toothpaste would qualify as one that has unnecessary chemicals and ingredients, and is highly abrasive. Stay away from the high abrasive toothpastes AKA Whitening Toothpastes. First off, nothing other than professional teeth bleaching will change the shade of your teeth. These toothpastes end up doing more harm than good by removing tooth enamel. They also strip off the protective protein layers of your teeth reducing their ability to resist acids and making you prone to tooth sensitivity.
You want a toothpaste with low abrasiveness. Toothpaste formulations are always changing, but what you see here is the most current information I could find.
RDA (Relative Dentin Abrasion) Index
Note: Anything below 70 is considered a low abrasive.
|RDA||TOOTHPASTE NAME||RDA||TOOTHPASTE NAME|
|4||Toothbrush with plain water||101||Natural White|
|7||Plain baking soda||103||Arm & Hammer Sensation|
|8||Arm & Hammer Tooth Powder||103||Mentadent|
|15||Weleda Salt Toothpaste||104||Sensodyne Extra Whitening|
|30||Elmex Sensitive Plus||106||Colgate Platinum|
|30||Weleda Tooth Products||107||Crest Sensitivity Protection|
|34||ProNamel by Sensodyne||107||Sensodyne Full Protection Whitening|
|35||Arm & Hammer Dental Care||110||Crest Regular|
|40||Weleda Children’s Tooth Gel||110||Colgate Herbal|
|42||Arm & Hammer Advanced Whitening / Peroxide||110||Prevident 5000 Booster|
|44||Squiggle Enamel Saver||113||Aquafresh Whitening|
|45||Oxyfresh||117||Arm & Hammer Advance White Gel|
|45||Weleda Calendula Toothpaste||117||Arm & Hammer Sensation Tartar Control|
|45||Weleda Pink Toothpaste with Ratanhia||120||Close Up with Baking Soda|
|48||Arm & Hammer Dental Care Sensitive||124||Colgate Whitening|
|49||Tom's of Maine Sensitive||124||Crest Sensitivity Whitening + Scope|
|52||Arm & Hammer Peroxicare Regular||130||Crest Extra Whitening|
|53||Rembrandt Original||133||Ultra Brite|
|53||CloSYS||140||Crest Pro Health Night|
|54||Arm & Hammer Sensitive + Whitening||142||Colgate Total Whitening|
|54||Arm & Hammer Dental Care PM Bold Mint||145||Crest Pro Health Enamel Shield|
|57||Tom's of Maine Childrens Toothpaste||145||Ultra Brite Advanced Whitening|
|63||Rembrandt Mint||152||Crest Sensitive Whitening|
|63||Colgate Sensitive Enamel Protect||155||Crest Pro Health|
|65||ClinPro||160||Colgate Total Advanced Fresh|
|68||Colgate Regular||162||Crest Pro Health Whitening|
|70||Colgate Total||165||Colgate Tartar Control|
|70||Arm & Hammer Advance White Sensitive||168||Arm & Hammer Dental Care PM Fresh Mint|
|70||Arm & Hammer Advance White Sensitive||168||Arm & Hammer Dental Care PM Fresh Mint|
|70||Colgate 2-in-1 Fresh Mint||176||Nature's Gate paste|
|78||Biotene||200||Colgate 2-in-1 Tartar Control / Whitening|
|80||Aim||The RDA Table:|
|80||Close Up||0-70||Low Abrasive|
|83||Colgate Sensitive Max Strength||71-100||Medium Abrasive|
|84||Tom's of Maine||101-150||Highly Abrasive|
|85||Dentisse||151-250||Regarded as Harmful|
|85||Rembrandt Intense Stain|
|90||Sensodyne Fresh Mint|
|92||Sensodyne Cool Gel|
|93||Tom's of Maine|
|94||Sensodyne Fresh Impact|
|95||Oxyfresh Powder with Fluoride|
|100||Sensodyne Tartar Control Whitening|
Ingredients to Avoid in your toothpaste
Here is a list of some (not all) ingredients I am commonly asked about in commercial toothpastes. Please know that a lot of these ingredients are in several of our daily consumed products. I encourage everyone to be aware of what is in their dental products. What you put or don’t put into your body is YOUR CHOICE. I just ask that you at least KNOW what you are putting into it. Most people read their food labels but often forget to give their dental products the same respect. Even products labeled as “NATURAL” can contain unwanted ingredients.
Artificial Sweeteners and Dyes:
Saccharin, Sorbitol, Aspartame, and FD&C blue dye No. 1 and 2. These are widely known as being linked to learning and behavioral issues and cancers. These dyes and Sweeteners exist in many color coated candies, kids colored drinks, and many things that are labeled ”sugar free”etc.
This is a common food additive that is extracted from a red seaweed, Chondrus crispus, which is popularly known as Irish moss. Carrageenan, is used as a thickener and emulsifier. Some studies have shown chronic body inflammation linked to carrageenan, however there are different forms of this ingredient.
The fluoride debate is nothing new in dentistry. Everyone has their personal opinion on this subject. There are dentists and doctors who oppose the use of Fluoride, and others who believe wholeheartedly in its use. I encourage everyone to do their own research and determine if it is right for them. Fluoride has been shown to help reverse early decay but at the same time it can re harden enamel over active decay (which isn't good).
Also known as plastic. The kind of plastic that is used in grocery bags that is not biodegradable. CREST is a huge offender here. They will most likely need to reformulate their product in the near future due to multiple complaints they have been receiving. I continue to see plastic blue specs in many of my patients when they come in for cleanings. I conducted my own overnight experiment with these plastic blue specs and I can confirm that they do not break down. For a great article and close up pictures of these plastic particles check out
**Update. By 2016 Crest will be removing Polyethylene from their toothpastes. http://www.thedenverchannel.com/lifestyle/health/dentist-calls-crest-toothpaste-dangerous-now-pg-changing-ingredients
Pyrophosphate (Tetrasodium and/or tetrapotassium pyrophosphate)
An oral care agent that animal studies have found impact your brain and nervous system at low doses.
Salicylic acid is the anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving ingredient in aspirin and other similar products. Most people have no issue with Salicylates, however if you do have an ALLERGY or severe sensitivity, you may want to check what is in your dental product.
Salicylate Containing Ingredients include:
- Artificial food coloring and flavoring
- Magnesium salicylate
- Methyl salicylate
- Phenylethyl salicylate
- Sodium salicylate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) is a synthetic detergent which The American College of Toxicology says can cause skin corrosion, irritation and canker sores. For those who get frequent mouth ulcer outbreaks or canker sores, check your toothpaste ingredients.
Colgate Total is the only toothpaste currently featuring the antibacterial Triclosan. They will be reformulating and eradicating the Triclosan by 2015 after numerous consumer complaints.
Triclosan is an antimicrobial that the FDA considers a pesticide. It has been found to disrupt hormones with negative effects on thyroid and estrogen levels. Other studies have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Here’s what cancer-prevention expert Samuel Epstein, MD, wrote about triclosan in a March 24, 2010 article in the Huffington Post:
“Unexpected volatility has been documented when the triclosan in liquid soaps and other household products comes into contact with water, as would happen during common use. At Virginia Tech University, a team of researchers in April 2005 reported that some toothpastes and soaps create a chloroform gas when the triclosan in these products reacts with chlorinated tap water.”
— Samuel Epstein, MD; The Huffington Post
- Cleure (Mint Free) * NOTE: this contains Xanthan Gum (thickening agent), Sodium Benzoate – sodium salt found naturally in berries
- Earthpaste (Cinnamon)
- Jack & Jill (BlackCurrant, Blueberry)
- Miessence (Mint, Lemon, Anise)
- Brush Mee Tooth Powder (found at www.bestpinksalt.com)
- For Goodness Sakes Tooth Powder (found at www.soapforgoodnesssake.com)
Toothpaste Amount / Dosage
Side Note: The AMOUNT of toothpaste you use is critical. Unlike what the consumer advertisements show, that thick ribbon of crystal blue gel you see draped over the toothbrush, is incorrect. ONLY a BABY PEA SIZED amount of toothpaste should be used.
Jill's Home Made Toothpaste
- 2 TBS Baking Soda
- 1 TBS Xylitol
- 1/2 TBS Sea Salt
- * Optional – few drops of 100% essential oil (peppermint, mint, cinnamon, etc.) READ THE LABEL to ensure safety of oil.