Whether you buy your toothpaste at the supermarket, the pharmacy, or online, the sheer number of choices can be daunting. There are entire rows of different types of toothpaste claiming to help sensitive teeth, to remove stains with whitening formulas, to reduce the risk of gum diseases, or even just to give you fresh breath for up to 12 hours! It can be hard to decide which toothpaste is going to work best for you, or which problem you want to tackle first. So what is the true difference between all your choices?
You may be truly shocked to find out that all toothpastes are essentially the same. The role of toothpaste is to remove plaque and prevent cavities. Most toothpastes on the marketplace contain the same two active ingredients, fluoride and a mild abrasive, and therefore all toothpastes generally accomplish the same things across the board. However, sensitivity is the one area where a specialized toothpaste can actually accomplish something.
Sensitive teeth can make simple tasks like brushing or eating and drinking hot or cold items excruciating. This sensitivity is generally the result of worn tooth enamel or exposed roots, but other possible causes include cavities, cracks or chips in your tooth, a worn-out filling, or even gum disease. These issues should be addressed by a dentist to ensure there aren’t any underlying issues causing the sensitivity. Your dentist may recommend a sensitivity toothpaste, but if they are all essentially the same, does it really matter?
There are a few things to consider. First, make sure you are using a reputable brand. Cheaper toothpaste brands may not contain absorbable fluoride, which is very important for healthy teeth. When looking for products for sensitive teeth, the goal is to block the dentin that is exposed and minimize sensitivity when brushing. The most common reason for sensitivity is weakening tooth enamel, so it is important to ensure your sensitivity toothpaste contains potassium nitrate. This ingredient helps fill in the exterior of your enamel with extended use.
Children’s toothpaste, aside from being more colorful and flavorful, is sugar-free and contains fluoride and abrasives, just like their adult counterparts. However, because children tend to swallow toothpaste, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using only a smear of toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice for babies and toddlers, then increasing to a pea-sized amount at 3 years of age.
Children & Sensitive Teeth
Because most sensitivity issues develop over time (weakened enamel, receding gums, etc.) sensitivity in children needs to be checked by a dentist. That being said, some people just have sensitive teeth. If there are no underlying issues and it is just sensitivity, a toothpaste that fills in or strengthens your enamel may be all that is needed. However, if there are cavities or gum disease, dental care will be absolutely needed. For this reason, preventative care is the best defense against sensitivity.