Toothpaste: Whats the difference?

Emily New interviews Dr Oliver Cvekus from The Village Dentist at Sisson Clinic asking his thoughts on toothpaste available on the market.

Read time: 3 mins

Emily: Good afternoon Oliver, thankyou for taking some time to chat to me today.
Oliver: It’s a pleasure! As I understand it, you have some questions for me about toothpastes?

Emily: Yes, speaking to residents over the past few months, a common topic that is raised in conversation is “What is the best toothpaste?”
Oliver: Well, that is a tricky question to answer in just once sentence. I think to answer it fully, we have to look at the constituents of toothpastes on the market. Toothpaste has two key ingredients, fluoride and a mild abrasive, bound together with thickeners, artificial sweeteners, stabilisers and flavours. Now, while the abrasives may change, they serve the same purpose and that is to polish the teeth. The fluoride in toothpastes serves to protect the teeth from decay, so beware of ‘so called natural toothpastes’ which don’t contain fluoride as they have no dental benefit at all.

Emily: So if what your saying is true, why not just choose the cheapest toothpaste on the market?
Oliver: I would stick to the reputable brands as the quality of ingredients used in toothpastes can differ – it’s recently been found that some cheaper toothpastes don’t actually contain bio-available (absorbable) fluoride, which means the fluoride component doesn’t work.

Emily: Do you think there is a toothpaste on the market that is more suited to elderly patients?
Oliver: At The Village Dentist surgery, I do see a lot of patients who suffer from dry mouth. Its uncomfortable, sometimes painful and also affects dental health dramatically.
Emily: How so?
Oliver: Saliva has a very specific function, and that is to bathe the teeth and mucosa. It has many parts to it: antibacterial, antiviral, anti fungal, calcium, phosphate and lubricant properties. When plaque sits on the teeth, it releases an acid as a byproduct of its growth and metabolism. This acid eats into enamel enabling the plaque bacteria to enter into the softer, live part of the tooth (dentine) which is commonly known as ‘dental decay’. So patients with Xerostomia (dry mouth) have to be extra vigilant with regular dental visits, home care (maybe electric toothbrush) and special prescription products. At The Village Dentist, we carry all of these products and inform you of the best products for you. We carry a special medicated toothpaste that has 5X the fluoride of normal toothpaste to provide extra protection for patients with Xerostomia.

Emily: What about whitening toothpastes? Surely they have additional ingredients?
Oliver: Tooth whitening products are the largest segment in the oral care market. A study on a selection of whitening toothpastes was done in 2012 and it was found that none contained a bleaching agent, which is required to change the colour of teeth. The fine print often qualifies this by promising whiter teeth as a result of stain removal, not an overall whitening treatment. This stain removal is normally achieved by increasing how abrasive the toothpaste is which, ironically, is bad for teeth as it can cause gum recession and accelerated wear on the teeth. The only way to reliably whiten teeth is to have whitening done in-surgery or have a professional whitening kit made by a dentist.

Emily: Wow, very interesting. Does sensitive toothpaste work?
Oliver: Of all the ‘spin off’ products associated with toothpastes, sensitive toothpastes are the only ones that actually work. But they should be used with caution and not be used to disguise more serious problems like decay that can be present in teeth and cause sensitivity. I am happy to recommend it in certain cases but if one has sensitive teeth, its best to see a dentist first to make sure a more serious problem is not occurring.

Emily: Well that was a very interesting discussion Oliver! Thankyou for chatting with me today and I look forward to seeing you around Sisson Clinic!
Oliver: It has been a pleasure to chat, and I too look forward to seeing you around the village!