What’s the Best Toothpaste?
Look at the oral hygiene section of any supermarket or pharmacy and you’ll find yourself confronted with dozens of toothpaste options. Different brands, sizes, special ingredients, formulations — it can get a bit overwhelming. Where do you start? Do you really need a special toothpaste for whitening, or for sensitive teeth?
In this article we’ll go over what your best toothpaste options are in Australia, and how much of a difference there really is between types.
What are the different toothpaste options in Australia?
The most common types of toothpaste you’ll find are:
- “Generic” — with no special properties advertised
- For sensitive teeth — specially formulated to help decrease sensitivity in teeth
- Whitening toothpaste — claim to whiten teeth in 8-12 weeks of consistent use
- Natural toothpaste — using “no artificial” ingredients
- Children’s toothpaste — specially formulated for children
“Dual action” and “triple action” are also common.
Slightly less common types of toothpaste, but no more difficult to find, include:
- Toothpaste for bad breath — designed to make your breath smell better
- Toothpaste for plaque and tartar control
Is there much of a different between toothpastes?
With so many types of toothpastes available, it’s sensible to ask — is there actually that much of a difference? How much is purely marketing, and how much is an actual, functional, measurable difference in the product?
Truth be told, most “types” of toothpaste are pure marketing.
All toothpastes contain anti-plaque or anti-tartar properties, for example. Toothpastes marketing themselves as doing this specifically don’t have any more of these ingredients than generic toothpastes.
Whitening toothpastes contain no bleaching agent, which is necessary to physically whiten teeth. All they can do is remove surface stains — just like any other toothpaste.
So which types of toothpaste are actually different?
- Toothpaste for sensitive teeth. This is actually formulated to block dentine nodules which cause tooth sensitivity. It’s not a cure-all for sensitive teeth, but there are distinct ingredients in the formulation that help with sensitivity.
- Toothpaste for children. Excess fluoride consumption in childhood can lead to a condition known as fluoridosis. This is where hard white patches or streaks appear on teeth that haven’t grown into the jaw yet. To combat this, children’s toothpaste is formulated with lower levels of fluoride to prevent problems should the child swallow the toothpaste.
- Natural toothpaste. Many of these contain no fluoride, and instead use ingredients like activated charcoal to clean the teeth.
Choosing the Right Toothpaste
Children under 6 should use a children’s toothpaste. While it’s still not ideal for them to swallow it, it’s at least safer than swallowing regular toothpaste.
Toothpaste for sensitive teeth should really only be used under a dentist’s recommendation. There’s no harm in using it otherwise — but also potentially no benefit. Since this is a more expensive formulation than regular toothpaste, you may be better off saving the money.
Natural toothpaste contains no fluoride. The two most important parts of brushing your teeth with toothpaste are the mechanical brushing motion — removing buildup and debris from the teeth — and the fluoride in the toothpaste — remineralising the enamel to prevent decay. Without fluoride, there’s no real benefit to using toothpaste.
Not only that, many natural toothpastes contain particles, usually of charcoal, that they claim help to scrub the teeth down. Rubbing fine particles into your teeth regularly is a great way to wear down the enamel and encourage, rather than prevent, tooth decay.
Nine times out of ten, the only thing you need to worry about when choosing a toothpaste is to make sure it has a decent amount of fluoride. An average fluoride should have 1350-1500ppm of fluoride. Some formulations have higher concentrations for those who are at-risk of cavities, but again, this should be recommended by a dentist.
So long as the toothpaste contains the ideal amount of fluoride, the choice is yours. Just don’t expect the whitening toothpaste to do any real whitening.
Toothpaste brands in Australia
Colgate is the market leader, and for good reason. Nobody quite comes close in Australia in terms of range. However, they can be a bit pricier for their marketing-heavy options.
Your local supermarket own-brand toothpaste will contain the right amount of fluoride, and do just the trick. If you want to explore name brands for peace of mind, productreview.com.au has an updating list of the best-rated toothpastes in the country.