Every patient innocently asks us, “What’s the best toothpaste to use?”

So let’s deconstruct these ingredients, shall we?

1. Fluoride

This was probably the first additive to toothpaste that brought it under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration and made toothpaste part drug, part cosmetic. Over time, a fluoride toothpaste can improve the strength of teeth, but the fluoride itself does nothing to make teeth cleaner.

2. Foam

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate has a creamy, thick texture that equates to the feeling of cleanliness. There’s not enough surfactant, though, in toothpaste foam to break up the goo that grows on your teeth. If these bubbles scrubbed, you’d better believe that they would also scrub your delicate gum tissues into a bloody pulp.

3. Abrasive particles

Most kinds of toothpaste use hydrated silica as the grit that polishes teeth. But whitening toothpaste cannot get your teeth any whiter than a professional dental cleaning because it only cleans the surface. 

4. Desensitizers

Teeth that are sensitive to hot, cold, sweets or a combination can benefit from the addition of potassium nitrate or stannous fluoride to a toothpaste. This is more of a palliative treatment.

5. Tartar control

 If your toothpaste has a particular biting flavour, it might contain tetrasodium pyrophosphate, an ingredient that is supposed to keep calcium phosphate salts (tartar, or calculus) from fossilizing on the back of your lower front teeth. 

6. Triclosan. 

This antimicrobial is supposed to reduce infections between the gum and tooth. However, if you just keep the germs off of your teeth in the first place it’s pretty much a waste of an extra ingredient. Its safety has been questioned but,  the bulk of the scientific research easily demonstrates that the addition of triclosan in toothpaste does much more good than harm.