Fresh breath sets the tone for every moment of your day: first thing in the morning, before an important meeting, after working out, or just before bed. Whether you prefer cool mint, invigorating cinnamon, or herbal anise, it’s your favorite trusty toothpaste that delivers that fresh, clean feeling.
So, what’s the scoop on toothpaste? What knowledge is essential to get the most out of your toothpaste? You might be surprised as you learn more about this common product. Dr. Dan McKay in Seattle gives you the full story on toothpaste to empower you to take oral health into your own hands.
What is Toothpaste?
Toothpaste is an important preventive product. It can prevent tartar (hardened plaque) and gum disease if used regularly. Toothpaste comes in a variety of forms – paste, gels, powders. But all toothpaste has similar ingredients that allow it to work, and work well.
- Abrasives — The most important thing toothpaste does is remove unwanted stuff from the surface of your teeth. Long ago, people used gritty materials like brick dust, charcoal, tree bark, and animal hooves to wash away unwanted gunk from their teeth. Thanks to technology and modern science, we now have much gentler ingredients proven to be safe and effective.
• Detergent — An ingredient more often associated with dishes or laundry, detergent makes toothpaste foam. This foam helps move particles off your teeth that water alone cannot.
• Fluoride — This mineral strengthens tooth enamel and makes teeth more resistant to decay. Some parents of small children are concerned about fluoride in children’s toothpaste because kids swallow a lot of paste as they are learning to brush (and too much fluoride is not good to ingest). Toothpaste follows regulations for safe use, but talk with your dentist if you become concerned.
• Humectants — These substances keep the paste from drying out, which is very helpful since you open and close the toothpaste tube multiple times each day.
• Flavor — Thanks to modern science, our toothpaste has amazing flavors like peppermint, cinnamon, and bubblegum without any sugar or components that would cause tooth decay.
Can You Use Toothpaste Wrong?
Dish soap doesn’t work unless you scrub the dirty dishes, and no toothpaste would be effective without the actual brushing motion. Be sure you’ve got your brushing technique down to get the most out of your paste.
To start, you only need a small amount of toothpaste on your brush. The size of a pea is just enough. Commercials show toothbrushes overloaded with paste, which encourages you to use more than you need and use up that tube (and spend money) faster than necessary!
For the healthiest smile, take your time. You want more than just a quick brush for fresh breath. Hold your brush perpendicular (at a 45-degree angle) to your teeth and gums and brush gently for a whole 2 minutes. Be mindful of brushing each tooth and near your gum line. Be sure not to swallow any excess toothpaste.
Which Toothpaste is Right for Me?
When it comes to different kinds of toothpaste, you have no shortage of options. The most important thing is that you buy toothpaste that will make you excited to brush your teeth!
- Sensitive — If you have sensitive teeth, that painful zing is caused by dentin (the bone at the core of your teeth) being exposed. Kinds of toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth have ingredients that work hard to protect teeth and alleviate pain related to hot or cold temperatures.
- Holistic — If you’re into natural health and wellness, there are plenty of toothpaste brands that use fewer chemicals. These products are not always studied or proven effective, but will still work if you maintain good brushing techniques.
- Whitening — All toothpaste removes some stains, but whitening toothpaste uses more abrasives to scrub harder at those stains and provide more dramatic results. Be mindful of the abrasiveness of whitening toothpaste, as it may lead to increased tooth sensitivity. If you want whiter teeth without that risk, consider getting a professional whitening treatment.
When shopping for toothpaste in stores, look for seals of approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Dental Association (ADA). The FDA tests toothpaste for safety and the ADA makes sure that toothpaste does what its labels claim.
Toothpaste is good at preventing plaque buildup on your teeth and infection in your gums, but cannot replace the effect of a professional dental cleaning. Only dentists can remove tartar, which is buildup from food or other materials that have hardened and cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone.
Your teeth and gums serve you every day, it’s only fair to treat them well in return. Get in touch with McKay Center for Cosmetic and General Dentistry today for a hygiene appointment!
The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.