THE GUM GARDEN

What is the best toothpaste to use?

We recommend brushing twice per day for at least two minutes with any reputable fluoride toothpaste. You should also clean in between your teeth once per day with either floss or an interdental brush. Avoid sugary drinks or snacks in between mealtimes, particularly last thing at night. Finally, don’t forget to visit your dentist or periodontist for regular checks.

I already know that. But there are so many different toothpastes on the market.

To be honest, it probably doesn’t matter which exact toothpaste you use, as long as it contains fluoride. The technique that you use to clean your teeth is likely to be more important than the specific brand of toothpaste.

Wait, isn’t fluoride harmful? I read on the internet it causes cancer.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring salt. It is often found in low concentrations in water supplies around the world, either naturally present or artificially added. Fluoride is important because it significantly decreases the risk of tooth decay and cavities. If fluoride toothpaste is used correctly, it is completely safe.

Then why are there so many fluoride-free toothpastes available? Wouldn’t it be better to avoid all of these harmful chemicals? And why does toothpaste for children contain lower doses of fluoride?

Some people choose to use a fluoride-free toothpaste without realising what a huge protective effect fluoride has on our teeth. The only reason for the lower concentration of fluoride in toothpaste for children is to prevent them absorbing too much if they swallow the paste. If a child regularly swallows toothpaste, there is a small chance that their tooth enamel could be appear slightly mottled (despite being less prone to decay).

Children should therefore brush their teeth under supervision using the recommended fluoride toothpaste for their age range.

I want to have whiter teeth. Which whitening toothpaste do you recommend?

There are many brands of whitening toothpaste on the market. They are often slightly more abrasive than normal toothpaste to help prevent staining from food, drink and tobacco, although they may not change the actual colour of the teeth.

The best way to obtain a whiter smile is to reduce your intake of tea, coffee, curries and any other strongly pigmented food and drink. If you smoke, you should seriously consider quitting; not just to improve the colour of your teeth, but to reduce your risk of gum disease and oral cancer.

Visit your periodontist or dental hygienist for a thorough cleaning. If you still want your teeth to be whiter, your dentist can advise the most effective way to whiten your teeth.

Okay.  I also have really sensitive teeth.

Well, there are many well known sensitive toothpastes on the market that can help. They usually contain various ingredients, including fluoride, to strengthen the teeth over time and reduce any sensitivity.

However, it is important to avoid acidic food and drinks e.g. fruit juices or fizzy drinks, which can erode the enamel surface and make the teeth more sensitive. People with receding gums are more likely to have sensitive teeth due to exposed roots, which do not have any protective enamel covering them.

Visit your periodontist if you are concerned about gum shrinkage to find out how specialist gum treatment could help.

The Gum Gardener

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