If you’re lazy about brushing and flossing, no toothpaste will save your smile. But for those who stick to their dentist’s directives, the right gel or paste could prevent gum pain, stained teeth, cavities, and other more serious dental debacles. “Choosing a brand can be tricky because there are just so many options.”  

1. Always look for the IDA seal on your toothpaste’s box: This shows the product has been tested, its claims are legitimate, and its ingredients are effective.  Also, whether you like pastes or gels, cinnamon or spearmint flavours, keep in mind that those factors have nothing to do with your dentifrice’s effectiveness.

2. If you have yellow teeth: Whitening toothpaste contains mild abrasives that help polish teeth and prevent the buildup of additional stains, but they won’t have much impact on older discolourations. To get a whiter smile, look for pastes or gels that contain modified silicone abrasive.

3. If you’re plagued by cavities: All day every day, a sticky film of bacteria is trying to form on your teeth. That film is a plaque, and it interacts with certain foods: 

  • Mostly sugar: To produce acids that eat away at your tooth’s enamel, which results in tiny holes (cavities) The solution? The mineral fluoride is nature’s cavity fighter. It coats teeth and protects them from cavity-causing acids. While most kinds of toothpaste contain fluoride. 
  • Brushing and spitting, but not rinsing: It leaves fluoride behind and gives the ingredient more time to work, which can further help those who are cavity prone. If all else fails, prescription cavity fighters like Colgate PreviDent could also help.

4. If you have sensitive teeth or gums: If your dentist has ruled out other problems like cavities or root infections, the issue could be that you’re brushing too roughly. You could also have extra sensitive gums or exposed roots, which aren't necessarily signed with poor brushing or flossing habits. Opt for toothpaste containing a desensitizing ingredient like strontium chloride or potassium nitrate. There’s essentially no difference between the two, and either may help lessen the pain. It can be sorted out by multiple brands, including several products from Sensodyne. 

Tartar, which dentists sometimes call “calculus,” comes from the bacterial plaque that has hardened. No matter how much you brush, once the tartar has formed, only that little pick your dentist wields can scrape it off, she adds. However, toothpaste containing tartar-fighting elements can prevent the plaque from hardening. Look on the label for ingredients like pyrophosphates or zinc citrate. 

5. If you’re looking fora natural product: All-natural, herbal toothpaste can be just as effective as anti-microbial based pastes. “If the toothpaste has the IDA seal, it’s going to be effective"

6. If you wear dentures: That said, effervescent tablets or solutions have been shown to clean more effectively than brushing. Denture-cleansing products made by Fixodent are effective options.