What Kind of Toothpaste Should I Use? A visit to the toothpaste aisle can be overwhelming. There are so many options that you might be confused about what toothpaste you should use. 5 Things Most Types of Toothpaste Have in Common Toothpaste’s main function is to provide abrasive agents that remove food and bacteria from your teeth. Calcium carbonate is the most common abrasive ingredient in toothpaste, though some brands may use a different ingredient in its place. Most toothpastes include flavoring. Some brands add saccharin (sugar) to make toothpaste taste better. Available flavors vary widely and include mint (most common), cinnamon, citrus and even bubblegum. Toothpaste is also available without added flavoring or with natural flavoring for those who want to avoid artificial additives. Detergents are added to many brands of toothpaste to create cleaning foam. Sodium lauryl sulfate is a common detergent found in toothpaste. Fluoride is added to most toothpastes. It’s a mineral that prevents tooth decay by making tooth enamel stronger and provides minerals to parts of teeth that have started to decay. Moisturizers and thickeners. Toothpaste must be thick enough to spread on your toothbrush and must be kept moist inside the tube. Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth If you experience tooth pain when eating or drinking things that are hot or cold, you might want a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. This kind of toothpaste contains compounds that reduce the sensitivity of your teeth. Some people are prone to canker sores inside their mouths. Sodium lauryl sulfate may be one cause of such sores; to avoid this, find a toothpaste that is free of this common additive. Tartar Control Toothpaste Plaque is the layer of bacteria on and in between your teeth that you remove by brushing and flossing. If it’s not removed, it hardens and becomes tartar. Toothpastes with extra compounds such as zinc citrate and triclosan can prevent tartar buildup. Whitening Toothpaste If your teeth are stained, you might want to try a whitening toothpaste. These specially-formulated pastes contain extra abrasives and chemicals that bind to stains in order to remove them. Specially-Flavored Toothpaste If you’re having difficulty getting your kids to brush regularly, a flavored toothpaste might help. Toothpastes developed for kids include flavors such as bubblegum, fruit punch and grape. Adults might also enjoy some of the special flavors on the market. Instead of the typical mint, you can find toothpastes flavored like cinnamon, citrus and even herbs. How to Choose the Right Toothpaste First, ask your dentist for a recommendation. Your dentist is familiar with your specific dental needs and may encourage you to use a specific type of toothpaste. Otherwise, as long as you choose a toothpaste that has been approved by the ADA (American Dental Association), you can’t go wrong.