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Choosing a Toothpaste: What’s the Big Deal?

Course Number: 565

Guiding Patients to Make a Great Choice

Evaluating the Claims This course has walked through considerations in evaluating the considerable differences between, and relative benefits of, marketed toothpastes. To answer the original question from the Introduction, all toothpastes are not interchangeable. Individual oral health needs – both therapeutic and cosmetic – should inform the decision around toothpaste selection.

In review, here are some key considerations when evaluating a toothpaste:

  • What are the toothpaste therapeutic benefits I am seeking?
  • Does it have the ADA seal?
  • Do the ingredients have an established and/or well-studied history? If not, does support for any claims exist?
  • What laboratory and clinical research data are available?
  • How many and what type of benefits can be expected?
  • Will the toothpaste contribute to an enjoyable brushing experience to promote compliance?

Where possible, dentifrice ingredient labels should be reviewed to understand potential effects and benefits. Ideally, product packaging claims can be compared to any existing laboratory and clinical research findings of a toothpaste’s safety and effectiveness (visit manufacturer’s websites – including any sections directed to professionals – and research databases like PubMed). This is especially helpful for dentifrices with lesser-studied ingredients or those with new indications. Peer-reviewed published randomized controlled clinical trials are the gold standard for products making therapeutic claims. For those with less time to read the original publications, research summaries are often available from manufacturer representatives.

Credentialing via the receipt of the ADA Seal of Acceptance is another excellent assurance of a toothpaste’s safety and effectiveness.