On the most basic level, toothpaste is meant to clean your teeth and help prevent cavities and oral disease. When you’re shopping for a tube, there are three main questions you should consider:
Does it have the ADA seal of acceptance? Does it contain fluoride? Does it address any additional needs your specific teeth may require?
All toothpastes that earn the ADA Seal of Acceptance contain fluoride, an ingredient that is proven to reduce your risk for cavities. “Fluoride use is one of the most well-documented therapies in all of dentistry.” Toothpaste with the ADA Seal of Acceptance also does not contain flavoring agents like sugar that cause or contribute to tooth decay.
Once you’re browsing toothpaste options that have the ADA Seal of Acceptance, choosing one is mostly a matter of personal preference. Many people consider toothpaste’s flavor, for example, to narrow down their options. Some adults’ teeth have additional needs that specialized toothpaste options can address. You may want to whiten your teeth, remove tartar or find an option for sensitive teeth, for instance.
Specialized toothpastes contain specific ingredients to help with those issues. Most whitening toothpaste is made with hydrogen peroxide. Anti-erosion toothpaste usually contains ingredients to restore the minerals in tooth enamel — like sodium fluoride and stannous fluoride — thus hardening them over time. And some toothpaste is flavor-free if people are sensitive to that. In addition, baking soda toothpastes can offer pH neutralization for people with heartburn or acid reflux challenges.
Not everyone needs specialized toothpaste, however. Your dental hygienist knows your oral health status better than anyone else. Consult with them at your next visit and see what toothpaste they recommend specifically for you. There is no “charcoal toothpaste” with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Dental experts agree you should not use charcoal toothpaste. It may damage the outer layer of enamel since charcoal is abrasive.
“Natural toothpaste” describes toothpastes free of artificial flavors and ingredients, preservatives, sweetness additives and colors. Anything toothpaste is free from that causes it to be marketed as “natural” won’t impact its effectiveness so long as it has the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Good luck in choosing the toothpaste that is right for you!