A Dentist’s Guide to Toothpaste

A Dentist’s Guide to Toothpaste

Toothpaste and toothbrushes have become so commonplace that we take them for granted. These basic elements of cleaning teeth, however, have been carefully cultivated over hundreds of years.

The History of Toothpaste

The toothpaste that we currently use on our teeth contains three basic elements:  an abrasive,  a flavoring and a soaping agent (the suds). These three fundamental materials that clean our teeth are a vast improvement over what has been used in the past.

Previous ingredients used to clean teeth included salt, crushed bone or seashells, ashes from fires, sand, pumice, charcoal and baking soda. At times, sweeteners like honey were added to improve the flavor. The first toothpaste in the form that we know it was invented by Washington Wentworth Sheffield, a dentist from Connecticut. His creation, called Creme Dentifrice, was available as early as 1850 – but not in a tube. The first toothpaste to be packaged in tube form was colgate toothpaste, called Colgate Ribbon Dental Creme, and was first sold in 1896.

So Many Toothpaste Choices!

There are so many different types of toothpastes available that patients often ask Dr. Williams what kind he recommends. The most important qualities to look for when choosing toothpaste are not brand or cost, but rather whether you like the taste and texture. You will, after all, be putting it in your mouth at least twice a day.

Additionally, your toothpaste should contain fluoride, especially in Portland where the drinking water does not have adequate amounts of the tooth-strengthening mineral. Most mainstream brands, especially those with the American Dental Association seal, contain fluoride.

What About Tooth Problems?

If you have problems with tarter building up on your teeth, Dr. Williams recommends using  an anti-tarter toothpaste, which usually contain an active ingredient called pyrophosphate.  If you have sensitive teeth due to root exposure or wear, consider using a toothpaste containing potassium nitrate, which can block the tubules in teeth that cause sensitivity.

From whitening toothpaste to tartar control, it doesn’t matter all that much what type of toothpaste you use as long as you’re brushing twice a day with a soft toothbrush and keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy.  Dr. Williams and his team of skilled hygienists at Mt. Tabor Dental can answer any questions you may have about toothpastes and other oral health products.

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