What Should I Consider When Buying Toothpaste?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

While buying toothpaste may not sound like the most difficult decision one might face in life, in reality the wrong choice can create more serious health problems down the road. Buying toothpaste containing harsh detergents or abrasives, for example, can lead directly to the formation of canker sores. Buying toothpaste designed for adult users may prove harmful for small children who accidentally swallow it. Chemical additives used to reduce tartar build-up or whiten teeth can also prove problematic for certain toothpaste users with sensitivities.

Sodium tripolyphosphate, which is often included in whitening toothpaste.
Sodium tripolyphosphate, which is often included in whitening toothpaste.

When buying toothpaste, one important consideration is the age range of the intended consumers. Adults with no children may be able to buy toothpaste designed for adult hygiene, such as a smoker's whitening toothpaste or a gel form of breath freshener. For those with children, however, buying toothpaste suitable for all ages should be a priority. Toothpaste containing tartar control agents, sodium fluoride or other chemical additives may be okay for older children, but it can be dangerous for small children who have not yet learned to avoid swallowing while brushing. Adults could buy toothpaste designed for younger children along with their preferred brand for adults.

Some harsher toothpastes can lead to canker sores.
Some harsher toothpastes can lead to canker sores.

Another thing to consider when buying toothpaste is the actual problem or problems the particular brand claims to address. A standard toothpaste containing sodium fluoride may strengthen tooth enamel, but it will not address tartar build-up. The chemicals used to control tartar work on an entirely different premise than whiteners or breath fresheners. Before buying toothpaste, consider what you want that product to do for your dental health. Toothpastes which claim to address multiple issues may not be as effective as a brand specifically intended for tartar control or whitening or enamel strengthening.

Some toothpaste is designed to whiten teeth.
Some toothpaste is designed to whiten teeth.

When buying toothpaste, you may also want to consider your regular dental hygiene habits. If you tend to brush your teeth several times a day, then you might not want to invest in a specialized, high-end toothpaste. An economy-sized tube of a reputable toothpaste may suit your needs better than a small tube of specialty toothpaste. If you have a specific problem with ordinary toothpastes, such as canker sore development or disagreeable flavors, then you may be better off with a more specialized brand of toothpaste. Buying toothpaste with natural or organic ingredients may also reduce or eliminate bad reactions experienced with standard toothpastes.

Baking soda may help to keep teeth whiter.
Baking soda may help to keep teeth whiter.

Sometimes buying toothpaste is an exercise in trial-and-error until you find one that addresses all of your specific needs. If the toothpaste provides a whitening agent but tastes terrible, for example, you may lose interest in maintaining a proper brushing regimen. Keep searching until you find a brand which offers the most benefits without breaking your personal hygiene budget.

Some brands of toothpaste are designed to combat specific dental issues.
Some brands of toothpaste are designed to combat specific dental issues.
Finding the right toothpaste can sometimes be a process of trial and error.
Finding the right toothpaste can sometimes be a process of trial and error.
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments

CellMania

I use Listerine toothpaste because it cleans my teeth and leaves my breath feeling fresh for a long time. It's weird, though, because I hate Listerine mouthwash!

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