How to Choose the Proper Paste for the Job | Tewksbury Dental Associates


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How to Choose the Proper Paste for the Job

One of the most overwhelming tasks of maintaining an oral care routine can be choosing the correct toothpaste. It’s the sheer number of options that can paralyze even the most educated shopper. But have no fear, we have some tips that will help you narrow down your options so you can leave the supermarket with the proper paste for the job.

Don’t stress too much about this task.

“Using the proper formula can help –especially in the case of sensitivity control, but what makes the greatest difference in your oral health is the fact that you are brushing your teeth regularly,” says Tewksbury dentist and Andover native Dr. Zachary Goldman.
The following types of toothpastes are the most common and are recommended by our doctors at Tewksbury Dental Associates.

Cavity Protection

Flouride is a mineral that naturally fights cavities by strengthening tooth enamel. There often is confusion between over-the-counter and prescription-strength fluoride toothpastes. It is important to understand that all ADA-accepted toothpastes have fluoride and therefore are “cavity protecting,” but the level of fluoride in over-the-counter toothpastes is more than four times less than that of their prescription-strength counterparts.

Read more about fluoride for adults in this past blog post.

Fluoride toothpastes are best for:

  • Children- The American Dental Association now advises to start using OTC fluoride toothpaste as soon as your infant’s first tooth erupts
  • Patients at high risk for cavities
  • Patients with sensitive teeth – alternate with sensitivity control toothpaste, which is not intended for prolonged use

Plaque/Gingivitis/Tartar Control

Ingredients such as stannous fluoride and triclosan help reduce gum inflammation, or gingivitis. Gingivitis, characterized by red, swollen gums, is the first stage of gum disease and not something to be ignored.

Tartar and plaque control formulas often contain pyrophosphates, triclosan and zinc citrate, which help reduce plaque and tartar. Tartar is hardened plaque that is difficult to remove without tools, and it is a contributor to gum disease. These toothpastes can also be slightly more abrasive, so make sure you’re using an electric toothbrush with gentle pressure so you don’t abrade your gums and teeth!

Best for:

  • Patients with gum disease
  • Patients at risk for gum disease: Men 50+, pregnant women, dry mouth sufferers, autoimmune disease sufferers
  • Patients with halitosis (bad breath)

Sensitivity Control

Tooth sensitivity results when dentin erodes and becomes weak, which exposes channels that run directly to nerve endings. Desensitizing toothpastes are less abrasive and deliver depolarizing agents such as potassium nitrate or strontium chloride to nerve endings to keep them from firing, and you from feeling pain. Most sensitivity formulas also contain fluoride to help remineralize and strengthen dentin.

Best for:

  • Patients experiencing tooth sensitivity

Keep in mind that prolonged and severe tooth sensitivity can be a sign of a more serious underlying problem, and should be evaluated by a dental professional.


Whitening formulas utilize modified silica abrasives, enzymes and other stain-lifting formulas to physically remove surface stains. There are no bleaching agents in these toothpastes, so while they can be effective against mild surface stains, they don’t compare to more traditional means of whitening. As with tartar control toothpastes, these are also best used with an electric brush to help moderate the pressure with which you brush.

Best for:

  • Patients desiring a brighter smile
  • Patients who want to maintain the results of in-office whitening treatments

Patients with sensitivity issues may find whitening formulas are too harsh for their teeth. These patients should consider one of our many whitening options, as they whiten by means of chemically removing the stains rather than physically abrading them.

All Natural

Formulas considered all-natural boast ingredients such as zinc citrate, xylitol and peppermint oil to provide nature-conscious cleansing. Oftentimes, these toothpastes do not contain fluoride, which may increase your risk of developing cavities. We advise you to speak with one of the dental professionals here at Tewksbury Dental Associates so we can make sure this is the right option for you.

Best for:

  • Patients with healthy mouths who want to manage their exposure to certain ingredients

Which brand do you choose?

By now you should have a good idea of which formula is right for you, but which brand is best?
We recommend brands that have the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance.
Toothpastes that have earned this seal have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness by an independent review board of scientific experts.
Still finding yourself unsure of your decision? Our dentists and experienced dental team are more than happy to make a suggestion at your next checkup. Call us today!

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