Choosing a Toothpaste (cont.)

Tartar control toothpaste

There are many tartar control toothpastes on the market, most of which contain fluoride.

Everyone has a layer of bacteria on their teeth called plaque. If plaque isn't removed promptly with proper oral hygiene, it hardens into tartar. This hard-to-remove deposit can build up on your teeth and under your gums, ultimately leading to gum disease.

There are a variety of ingredients used in toothpaste to help prevent the accumulation of tartar on the teeth. Chemical compounds, including pyrophosphates and zinc citrate, are often added and have been proven effective. Additionally, some tartar control toothpastes contain an antibiotic called triclosan, which kills some of the bacteria in the mouth.

Certain toothpastes containing multiple anti-plaque agents in one formulation have been demonstrated to be even more effective at tartar control than varieties with only one plaque fighter.

Toothpastes for sensitive teeth

For people who have teeth that are easily irritated -- for instance, by hot or cold temperatures -- there are toothpastes available that are specially formulated for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes usually contain potassium nitrate or strontium chloride. These chemical compounds, which can take up to four weeks to offer relief, reduce tooth sensitivity by blocking pathways through the teeth that attach to nerves.

Whitening toothpaste

To help people on a quest for pearly whites, many whitening toothpastes are now being marketed for everyday use.

Whitening toothpastes do not typically contain bleaches. Instead, they contain abrasive particles or chemicals that effectively polish the teeth or bind to stains and help pull them off the tooth surface.

Although you might be concerned that the abrasiveness of whitening toothpaste could damage your teeth, studies suggest that whitening toothpastes are no harder on tooth enamel than other types of toothpaste.

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