With all the different toothpaste brands out in the market, my patients often ask me which one I would recommend the most. And my reply is always the same: the one that you LIKE the most. Of course there are “specialty” toothpaste out there that cater to specific needs (like tooth sensitivity, whitening and fluoride allergy) where this response doesn’t apply, but with regards to toothpaste for everyday use it just simply doesn’t matter. What does matter though is how you brush your teeth: how long, how often, how hard, and what kind of strokes you use. The reason for this all boils down to what actually causes tooth decay and gum disease in the first place: dental plaque. Dental plaque is that soft yellowish film that forms on the tooth surface after it is exposed to food particles. This film is produced by bacteria in the mouth that adhere to the tooth surface. When not effectively controlled, these bacteria consume sugars in the mouth, and as by-product produce acidic materials that destroy tooth structure, as well as the gums and their supporting structures. The way therefore in eliminating the risk of tooth decay and gum disease is to remove plaque and food debris in the mouth, and this is achieved by proper tooth brushing. When done properly, the bristles of the brush mechanically sweep away the plaque from the tooth surface, thereby eliminating the primary cause of tooth decay and gum disease. This is made even more effective when flossing is done by the patient, to remove food debris from the area of the teeth that can’t be reached by tooth brushing.
This is not to say that toothpaste do not help in the fight against tooth decay and gum disease. toothpaste contain fluoride that helps strengthen the teeth and fight off bacteria. Some may even contain calcium which are supposed to help strengthen teeth and bone (the effectiveness of which is debatable since calcium exchange happens between blood and bone and not with erupted teeth). However these benefits are only secondary to the mechanical removal of plaque by brushing and flossing, since the application of toothpaste alone cannot effectively eliminate plaque production in the mouth. As a result, toothpaste application becomes only supplementary to tooth brushing in maintaining good oral health. So going back to the original question on which toothpaste is the best: it’s the one that (for you) tastes the best, smells the best, and makes you want to brush your teeth longer, and more often. No toothpaste? No problem!
Dax B.Cordero, DDM
L/G Floor Corinthian Gardens Clubhouse, Corinthian Gardens Subdivision, QC