Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year.   We at Family Values Dental in LaVale are still enjoying the Christmas decorations that Dr. Wratchford and his wife, Paige so lovingly placed in the office; but we're ready to get back to work and hope to see all of you in 2014.

My name is Teresa Johnson and I'm the hygienist at Dr. Wratchford's office.  If you have any general dental questions that I or Dr. Wratchford can answer we'd be glad to address them at your regular appointment or feel free to email us.

A question I am asked almost daily is "What kind of toothpaste should I use?" It's a really good question. When I go to the store to purchase toothpaste the selection can be overwhelming so I can understand why most people are a little confused by all the different choices.

To help narrow down the selection process let's look at why we use toothpaste.  The average paste is nothing more than a detergent, which helps to remove light stain.  Most pastes have a fluoride added to help strengthen the enamel. That's it! We could clean our teeth with a dry toothbrush to remove the bacterial film of plaque if we weren't concerned with stain or strengthening our teeth.  So for most of us any toothpaste will work well.. I always tell my patients that when they find a toothpaste that works well at removing their stain and they like the taste just stick with it.  The major name brands: Crest; Colgate; Arm & Hammer and Aquafresh give you the choice of paste or gel.  As far as cleaning ability there is no difference between the paste or gel; it's just personal preference.

If you have sensitive teeth the specialty pastes really work well for most people.  We've all heard of Sensodyne; it was one of the first desensitizing toothpastes..  Sensodyne toothpaste has potassium nitrate as the desensitizing agent along with sodium fluoride.  Sensodyne Pronamel also has these same ingredients, nothing more. So there is nothing special about using Pronamel; they just have a wonderful marketing department that has made the general public believe the toothpaste is better for protecting your teeth.  Colgate and Arm & Hammer also have a desensitizing paste that uses potassium nitrate (same as Sensodyne) as the desensitizing agent. Crest uses stannous fluoride as their desensitizing agent.  So if you've tried Colgate, Sensodyne or Arm & Hammer for sensitive teeth and they haven't worked as well as you'd like give Crest Sensitive Shield a try; the different ingredient just might do the trick. Just remember none of the desensitizing pastes work quickly; give them several weeks (approximately 4 to 8 weeks) before you pass judgement on their effectiveness.

If your teeth aren't as white as you'd like you can try a whitening toothpaste.  They are safe to use and will help to remove coffee and tea stain.  Actually, if you are a tea drinker you will probably need to use a whitening toothpaste several times a day.  Tea stain is a very fine stain that becomes incorporated into the surface of the enamel and yellows the tooth; coffee stain is a heavier stain and is brushed off the tooth much more easily.  But to dramatically whiten your teeth you may need to bleach them.

I hope this overview on toothpaste has helped.  The next time you're at the store don't become overwhelmed in the toothpaste aisle -save that for the cereal aisle!

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