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Which is the right toothpaste?

There are so many different toothpastes for different requirements that it is easy to get lost in the maze of information. You have probably rarely wondered what the specific list of ingredients on the back of the tube of toothpaste mean or if these ingredients are good for your own teeth. But you should not pick up any random toothpaste. 

Find out here what you should look out for when you buy toothpaste and which toothpastes are effective for tooth decay, bad breath or sensitive teeth. 

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What is better – toothpaste with or without fluoride?

As a basic tool for your daily oral hygiene, your toothpaste should not only prevent caries developing, but also remove discoloration and strengthen your teeth and gums. You often hear terms like “fluoride-free” or “contains fluoride” to describe toothpaste. But often it is not clear what it means if there is fluoride in the toothpaste. When we buy toothpaste, we often ignore the question of whether daily brushing is better with or without fluoride.

Toothpaste without fluoride

One criteria for selecting the right toothpaste is abrasion. Surfactants and cleaning agents in the toothpaste efficiently remove discoloration on the teeth caused by coffee, tea or cigarettes. 

If you have sensitive teeth, where the neck of the tooth is exposed, you should use a sensitive toothpaste with low abrasion. If your gums are not sensitive, you can use a high abrasion toothpaste.

Fluoride-free toothpastes contain mineral cleaning agents, which gently remove plaque without damaging the tooth enamel. When used regularly, toothpaste prevents tooth decay, tartar and plaque.

Natural cosmetics brands such as Weleda, Lavera and Urtekram offer a wide range of fluoride-free toothpastes.

Why choose fluoride-free toothpaste for children?

It is especially important that the milk teeth are cleaned as they could otherwise infect the permanent teeth with bacteria that cause caries. To make sure this does not happen, children should clean their teeth twice a day with a pea-sized amount of fluoride-free toothpaste.

Toothpaste for babies and children should have a fluoride content of 500 to 1000 ppm, while children age six and above can use toothpaste with a fluoride content of 1000 to 1500 ppm. The fluoride content of children’s toothpaste may be up to 0.05%. 

This is because milk teeth are especially sensitive to fluoride. If the fluoride content is too high, fluorosis can develop, resulting in white marks on the permanent teeth.

As children from the age of six need a small amount of fluoride, we recommend that dentists combine a fluoride-free toothpaste with fluoride tablets. This eliminates the risk of a fluoride overdose from swallowing toothpaste while ensuring the child still gets the right amount of fluoride.

Fluoride toothpaste

Toothpastes with fluoride such as Elmex Caries Protection or Oral-B Enamel Protection prevent caries by adding minerals to the surface of the teeth.

These minerals allow the enamel to harden and become more resistant to bacteria and acids. This prevents caries developing and inhibits potential inflammation.

Generally these toothpastes have a fluoride content of 0.15%.

Is fluoride in toothpaste dangerous?

If a fluoride toothpaste is used properly, you do not need to worry about a fluoride overdose. As children’s toothpastes contain no more than 0.05% and adult toothpastes contain no more than 0.15% fluoride, such a small amount is not harmful or toxic for the body. Nonetheless, you should only use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and should not swallow it.

Which fluoride toothpaste?

Fluoride toothpaste with sodium carbonate eliminates deposits of plaque on the surface of the teeth and the margins of the gums. It also stops bleeding gums and neutralizes harmful acids in food and drink.

Fluoride toothpaste containing zinc removes plaque and tartar from the surfaces of the teeth. The gums are protected, thereby preventing gum inflammation. The zinc content prevents bad breath from developing. As children and adolescents cover their zinc requirements through their food, they should not use toothpaste containing zinc.

What should toothpaste not contain?

When you are cleaning your teeth you probably hardly ever think about what the strange jargon in the list of ingredients on the back of the toothpaste tube actually mean. Generally, there is nothing to worry about, but you should always make sure that your toothpaste does not contain sodium bicarbonate (aka baking powder). It is very harmful to teeth as it abrades the enamel that shields your teeth from the outside world. 

Most toothpastes contain titanium dioxide. Researchers only classify large quantities of titanium dioxide as toxic and carcinogenic.

To be on the safe side, you can opt for toothpastes from natural cosmetic brands such as Weleda or Lavera. 

Large doses of triclosan can trigger allergies and cause a hormone imbalance. At low concentrations, such as in toothpaste, it can reduce the production and development of bacteria. Natural cosmetic brands such as Weleda, Lavera or SANTE produce toothpaste without triclosan.

Sodium sulphate is responsible for toothpaste foaming. In the event of injuries or irritation in the mouth it is better if you use a toothpaste that does not contain sodium sulphate as the ingredients can make you more prone to mouth ulcers.

Toothpaste for pregnancy

Dental care during pregnancy is especially important as the gums are more sensitive because of the pregnancy hormones, making them more susceptible to inflammation.

Pregnant women are advised to clean their teeth with a fluoride toothpaste and to use fluoride gel once a week. The fluoride in the gel strengthens the enamel that is damaged by stomach acid during pregnancy.

Pregnant women should also make sure they use a toothpaste that does not contain ethanol. 

Toothpaste for fresh breath

There can be several reasons for bad breath. Often it is triggered by caries or gum inflammation. Treatment from a dentist or professional teeth cleaning can alleviate the problem.

Often the bacteria in the mouth can lead to bad breath. To counteract this, you should clean the surfaces of your teeth, the gaps between your teeth and your tongue. 

As many bacteria can settle on the tongue, it is recommended that you clean your tongue daily with a tongue scraper.

It is important to use the right toothpaste to eliminate bad breath. The most effective is antibacterial toothpaste. Toothpaste with aroma-based active substances such as mint also freshen the breath.

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Toothpaste for white teeth

Whitening toothpastes help remove tooth discoloration. The ingredients in toothpaste even remove discoloration from coffee.

The toothpaste also contains cleaning particles with a particularly radical action on deposits on the teeth, thereby making your teeth appear whiter.

The extent of abrasion of a whitening toothpaste is expressed as the RDA value (Relative Dentin Abrasion). Whitening toothpaste with a high RDA value should not be used exclusively for cleaning your teeth as they damage the dental enamel. This makes it easier for deposits to adhere to the surface of the teeth, resulting in discoloration.

Activated carbon toothpaste is particularly popular. It actively removes plaque from the surface of the teeth and with regular use, makes teeth appear whiter. But caution is advised here too: if used regularly, the protective coating on the teeth is abraded away and teeth become more sensitive. The teeth are open to attack, making them more susceptible to acid, bacteria and discoloration.

Toothpaste after bleaching

As the teeth are often very sensitive after Bleaching, you should initially use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth. This should contain fluoride to strengthen the dental enamel. You can also clean your teeth with a fluoride gel to give them an extra boost.

Toothpaste test winner

There is no stock answer as to which toothpaste is best. 

The following universal toothpastes were among those to win the Stiftung Warentest (German consumer organization):

  • Elmex Caries Protection

  • Oral-B Gum & Enamel Pro-Repair 

  • Colgate Total Active Fresh or Total Original

The following sensitive toothpastes were among those to win the Stiftung Warentest: 

  • Elmex Sensitive Professional

  • Biorepair Plus Sensitive Teeth

  • Aminomed Chamomile Fluoride Toothpaste

  • Logodent Sensitive Toothpaste

The following whitening toothpastes were among those to win the Stiftung Warentest: 

  • Odol-med 3 Extra White

  • Sensodyne ProSchmelz Gentle White

  • Colgate Sensation White

  • Blend-a-med 3D White Luxe Glamorous White

Which toothpaste do dentists recommend?

Dentists advise using toothpaste containing fluoride as it is the most effective against caries and plaque. It gently removes deposits from the surface of the teeth without damaging the enamel. It strengthens the protective layer over the teeth to combat bacteria and acid. It is important to ensure that the RDA value is between 40 and 60.

Toothpastes for sensitive teeth are recommended for people with sensitive teeth and gums. They clean the surfaces of the teeth and the gums very gently so that there is only mild abrasion on the teeth. Toothpastes for sensitive teeth have an RDA value of 0 to 40.

Experts advise against whitening toothpastes. While they remove deposits and plaque from the surface of the teeth, they also damage the enamel and the sensitive neck of the tooth. While the teeth are temporarily whitened, these toothpastes are very damaging in the long-term. The teeth are more sensitive to caries and plaque and also become more and more discolored as the protective layer on the teeth has been breached. To prevent abrasion on the teeth you should not use a whitening toothpaste on a regular basis. 

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