When it comes to toothpaste, budget brands and household names offer an avalanche of toothpastes, including whitening toothpaste, enamel protection, anti-sensitivity and natural, organic toothpaste.
Developed at Queen Mary University over the course of 10 years, BioMin’s effectiveness for oral health is backed by scientific research as well as glowing reviews.
Stronger teeth enamel
- Sensitivity Improvement Yes (137) · No (20)
- Whitening Improvement Yes (106) · No (48)
- Taste4.7 (164)
BioMin C is a fluoride-free toothpaste, using a chloride ion instead of the fluoride ion used in BioMinF toothpaste. It mainly provides the same benefits, such as remineralisation, sensitivity relief and protection against tooth decay.
Effective sensitivity relief
- Sensitivity Improvement Yes (22) · No (4)
- Whitening Improvement Yes (17) · No (8)
- Taste4.6 (21)
With potassium nitrate as its main active ingredient, Cedel Sensitive works to clean teeth, freshen breath, and provide sensitivity relief.
Affordable sensitivity relief
- Sensitivity Improvement Yes (5) · No (1)
- Whitening Improvement Yes (1) · No (3)
- Taste4.6 (5)
At $2.49, the Cedel Spearmint toothpaste is a trusted option if you’re looking for an affordable toothpaste with fluoride made by an established Australian company.
Affordable all-rounder toothpaste
- Sensitivity Improvement Yes (2) · No (2)
- Whitening Improvement Yes (3) · No (1)
- Taste4.6 (5)
Enriched with fluoride and using calcium carbonate as its main ingredient, this $5.50 toothpaste from WhiteGlo has many fans.
Effective at whitening teeth
Includes toothbrush and dental picks
Doesn’t test on animals
- Sensitivity Improvement Yes (3) · No (7)
- Whitening Improvement Yes (6) · No (5)
- Taste3.3 (8)
What are the benefits of toothpaste?
A good toothpaste, combined with the correct brushing technique and toothbrush, will maintain the health of your teeth and gums.
Toothpaste is designed to remove food particles caught between teeth, prevent the formation of plaque (a sticky film of bacteria coating teeth), and provide cavity protection. It also gently polishes your teeth, which helps keep your chompers smooth and shiny.
What toothpaste do dentists recommend?
When it comes to toothpaste, dentists don’t often recommend a particular one - and if they do, it will depend on the specific condition of your teeth. For example, the is often prescribed for people at high risk of developing cavities, and has a high amount of fluoride (5000ppmm) in it.
Other than this, dentists recommend that your toothpaste should have at least two key ingredients to work effectively - a mild abrasive and some fluoride.
Abrasive: All toothpaste needs to contain a mild abrasive in order to be effective. The abrasive quality is what gently scrubs against teeth to remove the bacteria and food residue that causes stains.
Fluoride toothpaste: When it comes to learning about toothpastes, you can’t get far without encountering the term ‘fluoride.’
Fluoride is a trace mineral found in nature, including water, rocks and plants. Also, the enamel in our teeth actually contains fluoride. Fluoride is widely regarded by dentists as a repair agent that protects enamel, and works as a barrier against bacteria.
Types of Toothpaste
Teeth whitening toothpaste
These toothpastes are different from other , as they won’t contain hydrogen peroxide to bleach teeth. They work by scrubbing away surface stains on teeth to make teeth whiter and brighter when the stains are removed.
To do this, whitening toothpastes increase either the strength or quantity of the abrasive ingredient in the product. While this may effectively whiten teeth, a stronger abrasive - especially when used daily - can wear down teeth enamel over time. This can lead to demineralisation of teeth, greater risk of cavities and tooth decay.
Check the instructions of a whitening toothpaste carefully to avoid this. It’s best to use these toothpastes occasionally (for example, once a week) rather than daily, to be safe.
Plaque/ Tartar Removal
Generally, most toothpastes already have the right ingredients to help avoid that sticky film of bacteria forming on your teeth.
Ingredients like sodium pyrophosphate and xanthan gum (also a thickener) are commonly found in plaque and tartar removal toothpastes. This is because they pull tartar into saliva, which stops it from forming on teeth - you can then spit it out with your toothpaste.
Flossing is also a great way to avoid plaque from forming on your teeth, as it gets all the food residue out of the nooks and crannies between chompers.
These toothpastes work best for preventing the build-up of plaque and tartar, but aren’t as effective at removing tartar already on teeth. This task is best left to a dentist, who’ll need to use special instruments for ‘scaling’ - removing the hard, calcified deposit from your teeth professionally.
Some people experience sensitivity, discomfort or pain when they consume certain foods and drinks - particularly those that are extremely hot or cold. Since that first bit of ice cream should be a source of pleasure, not pain, choosing the right sensitivity relief toothpaste can help.
Sensitivity can occur when the enamel is very porous, and unprotected, exposing the nerves in the dentin under your enamel. These sensitive toothpastes are designed to desensitive the nerves in the tooth that cause the pain, and some may contain potassium nitrate to restore enamel over time.
Sensitive formulas may also contain a much gentler abrasive, to avoid wearing away any more precious enamel.
Since many brands and products are similar, choosing the right one for your teeth will often be a case of trial and error. Some popular brands include Colgate Sensitive Pro Relief and Sensodyne.
There are plenty of appealing toothpastes for kids on the market. Oral B toothpastes for kids feature Mickey Mouse or Anna from Frozen, while the Colgate kids toothpaste has a Spiderman theme. Fruity flavours are tastier to kids than the strong, bitter bite of spearmint found in adult’s toothpastes.
Apart from the search to find a toothpaste that your child finds fun or tasty enough to use every day, there’s another consideration when it comes to toothpaste for children and babies.
Babies and toddlers up to 18 months: You should avoid giving baby toothpaste to your child, even if it’s ‘baby toothpaste.’ Babies this young will end up swallowing toothpaste, and some chemical ingredients can be dangerous if ingested - especially fluoride.
Children 18 months to 6 years: Choose a fluoride-free toothpaste for your child. Since children often swallow toothpaste (especially if it’s a yummy flavour), they can consume fluoride. Done daily, this can lead to fluorosis - a condition that causes large white spots to form on teeth. Fluorosis generally only occurs when permanent teeth are growing - so kids are at special risk.
There is a lot of marketing spin in toothpaste advertising, and it can be easy to be swept away on foamy dreams of cleaner, whiter, stronger teeth.
The best way to determine whether a toothpaste is cut out for the job of cleaning your teeth, preventing cavities and the build-up of plaque and tartar is to examine the ingredients list.
Common abrasives include calcium carbonate, hydrated silica, and silica gels. These abrasives shouldn’t be so rough, however, that they wear down your enamel.
Be careful with the quantity of abrasives in whitening toothpastes in particular, which may have a higher concentration of abrasive to scrub at stains.
This prevents toothpastes from hardening when it reacts to air. Common examples are glycerol and sorbitol.
Since toothpastes need to work as both a solid and liquid during the brushing process, binders stabilise the formula so it can do this. Common binding agents are carboxymethyl cellulose, hydroxyethyl cellulose and for natural toothpastes, you’ll often see gum carrageenan.
These reduce surface tension to help loosen plaque that’s deposited on teeth. Detergents often double are surfactants, or foaming agents. Sodium lauryl sulphate (or SLS) is the most commonly used toothpaste detergent, but it can irritate skin, along with other detergents. It’s also used in industrial cleaning products.
Flavour and Sweeteners
The flavour of most toothpastes is a variation of traditional mint, including peppermint, spearmint or wintergreen. Common natural inclusions are mint oil, eucalyptus or other safe essential oils.
Common sweeteners include xylitol - a natural sweetener, sorbitol - semi-sweet in nature and sodium saccharine, which has been found to cause cancer in rats. Aspartame is another artificial sweetener with mixed reviews on its negative health consequences - but best to avoid if you can.
Avoid parabens, which are chemical preservatives known to disrupt hormones. The following often have mixed scientific evidence on their harm, but it’s best to avoid them to be safe: propylene glycol - both a humectant and preservative. Benzoates like sodium benzoate, and potassium sorbate.
While it's not a preservative but an antibacterial, also avoid triclosan - an antibacterial agent that’s also used as a pesticide.
Natural toothpaste ingredients are more likely to be organic, vegan, and fluoride-free. Red Seal's Herbal Toothpaste is a popular example of a toothpaste that ticks all three of these boxes.
Natural toothpastes work by replacing common synthetic abrasives with natural ones - which is often marketed as the star ingredient.
They’re often used in the formulation of natural teeth whitening toothpastes. According to reviews and other anecdotal evidence, many people experience positive teeth whitening results using natural products.
However, most don’t include added fluoride, which according to the Australian Dentist’s Association, isn’t recommended in a toothpaste as it won’t prevent cavities and ‘fight’ plaque.
Activated charcoal is a fine, black powder that's become something of a wonder ingredient in the teeth-whitening world in recent years.
Charcoal toothpaste benefits are mainly that it has a magnetic effect on the toxins, dirt, bacteria, and food residue that cause stains. The activated charcoal draws them out, leaving you with a cleaner smile.
Keep in mind activated charcoal can be abrasive (and slowly wear away the enamel on your teeth), so it’s best to only use it occasionally, rather than every day.
Baking soda toothpaste
Baking soda scrubs away at stains on teeth, but can be abrasive and damaging in high quantities, or when used too frequently.
Rather than buying a baking soda toothpaste that you use twice daily, it could be more cost-effective (and safe to teeth), to buy food-grade baking soda, mix it with some water to make a paste, and brush it onto teeth once every 1-2 weeks for safe whitening results.
Some people also experience mouth ulcers and stinging after using baking soda, or whitening toothpastes with baking soda as the active whitening agent.
Many natural toothpastes contain clay, like the Red Seal Natural Toothpaste, which contains bentonite clay. Bentonite clay draws out toxins (similarly to activated charcoal), and also works as a mild abrasive.
The type of toothpaste that's righ tfor you will depend on a number of factors, including: your age, whether you have any dental conditions that you need to take care of, any cosmetic concerns you have about your teeth, and whether you prefer natural ingredients to chemicals. The right toothpaste formula doesn't need to be expensive to work, as long as it has safe, effective ingredients that keep your teeth, gums and smile healthy.