The trip down the toothpaste aisle isn’t as simple as it used to be yeas ago. There used to be just a handful of choices – gel or paste – peppermint or spearmint. Nowadays, the same aisle is filled with a confusing lineup of different formulas. It can be a daunting task to find the right type of toothpaste for your particular needs or the needs of your family.

Toothpaste companies are showcasing their new formulas – some helpful for minor dental issues, while others only leave us with empty promises. Below we have put together a helpful guide to help make your next trip down the toothpaste aisle a little easier.

Fluoride Toothpaste

Fluoride is the primary ingredient that most all oral health professionals agree is great for helping maintain a healthy, beautiful smile – at any age. Fluoride helps in removing plaque; the main cause of gum disease and tooth decay. You will also find that fluoride is great for strengthening tooth enamel. Most all ADA-Accepted toothpastes contain fluoride. (A list of all ADA-Accredits toothpastes can be found here )

Enamel-building Toothpastes

Bacteria, as well as certain foods and beverages, contain acid – a huge enemy to our teeth’s enamel. There are toothpastes on the market that claim to protect against acid erosion by “building” enamel. The bad news is – no toothpaste can rebuild lost enamel. The good news – you can protect your teeth from the acid that eats away at the enamel.

If you are already using a toothpaste that contains fluoride, you are more than likely preventing enamel loss. It’s also important to reduce the amount of acidic food and beverages you consume – stay away from too many sports drinks, sodas and fruit.

Tartar Control Toothpastes

The main thing to know about tartar control formulas is that while they are effective at preventing tartar, they can’t reduce the tartar build-up that is already on your teeth. Professional teeth cleaning is the best way to remove existing tartar.

It is also important to note that some tartar control toothpastes have ingredients that can irritate your gums. If you have sensitive gums, you may have to weigh the discomfort you have while brushing your teeth with the benefits of the tartar control formula.

Toothpastes for Sensitive Teeth

Toothpastes that help with sensitivity have an ingredient in them that “block” the parts of your mouth that connect your teeth to underlying nerves. These toothpastes can be helpful for mild or moderate tooth sensitivity. Give the toothpaste a few weeks of use to notice the improvements.

Note: If your tooth pain is caused by gum disease or a cavity, this type of toothpaste will not be helpful.

Teeth Whitening Toothpastes

We are sorry to break it to you, but these types of toothpastes are over-hyped and most likely will disappoint you. If you are looking to just remove surface stains, teeth-whitening toothpaste may help, but as the American Dental Association has stated, no toothpaste has been proven to change the color of teeth.

To effectively lighten the color of your teeth, it is important for you to talk with your dentist. They can perform a professional, teeth whitening procedure in-office or even recommend a treatment you can use at home.