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How to choose the best toothpaste.

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Dental Infographic: Picking out the best toothpaste / What to look for.

Snapshot of infographic: How to pick out the best toothpaste.

Snapshot of infographic: How to pick out the best toothpaste.

Trying to figure out which toothpaste is the best one for you? Which contains all of the ingredients that are important to you? If so, read through our infographic. It shares our ideas about what we think are the most important considerations. (Just in case you have 'images' turned off in your web browser, down below is a copy of our infographic's text.)

  • Look for the American Dental Association's Seal of Acceptance logo. It indicates that a toothpaste has met the ADA's criteria for safety and effectiveness. It also means that the product's on-package labeling and claims have been verified.
  • It's important for a toothpaste to contain fluoride because it's such an effective cavity preventer. Look for the compounds stannous fluoride, sodium fluoride or monofluoride phosphate (MFP). All ADA-accepted toothpastes contain fluoride.
  • Tartar-control ingredients (like pyrophosphate) can help to minimize the build up of dental calculus (hardened plaque) but won't help to remove tartar that's already formed. Sometimes using tartar-control toothpaste causes increased tooth sensitivity.
  • A toothpaste may make whitening claims but don't expect much in the way of results. Toothpastes whiten teeth by way of removing surface stains. They do not change the actual color of teeth.
  • All toothpaste formulations include abrasives. They help to remove debris and surface stains from teeth. Some of the abrasives used are silica, calcium carbonate and aluminum oxide. Too much abrasiveness is a bad thing. ADA-accepted toothpastes lie within reasonable limits.
  • Triclosan is an antimicrobial that is sometimes added to toothpaste. It can help to reduce dental plaque, gingivitis and bad breath. There are, however, some safety concerns about the use of this compound. The FDA is investigating.
  • When used over time, toothpastes formulated "for sensitive teeth" can help to combat tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, air and touch. Look for formulations that contain strontium chloride or potassium nitrate.
  • There's some research evidence that the foaming agent sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) may increase canker sore frequency. If you suspect that this is true for you, consider using a SLS-free toothpaste.
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