What toothpaste do dentists recommend?


The choices of toothpaste on the supermarket shelves can seem overwhelming, and you may be wonder which is the best one for you and your family.  Brushing teeth twice daily helps to maintain healthy oral hygiene and reduce the risk of tooth decay. Whilst standard toothpaste will do the job, there are some additional benefits to be found in specific brands/varieties of toothpaste such as whitening, anti-plaque, desensitising formulas, tartar control and more.

Not all of these are suitable for children and toddlers, especially when baby teeth are just starting to come through. If you’re feeling a little uncertain, don’t worry – the expert team at Specialist Kids Dental are here to help. Here’s our guide on how to choose the right toothpaste.

Fluoride – An Essential Component of Toothpaste

Fluoride is an ingredient found in all mainstream toothpastes, and it plays an essential role in re-mineralising your teeth and strengthening the enamel. Fluoride helps to keep your teeth strong and healthy, and it provides an effective barrier against acid attack by the bacteria and sugars inside your mouth.

Most toothpastes contain around 1000-1500 ppm of fluoride, but high concentration products (up to 5000 ppm) are available. Children’s toothpaste targeted at ages 6+ has 1,000 to 1500 ppm and children’s toothpaste for ages 2-5 contains around 200-550 ppm.


Abrasives in Toothpaste – Beneficial for your teeth, but watch out for the quantity!

Good toothpaste contains a small amount of abrasives, which are commonly listed as any of the following:

  • Phosphates (calcium pyrophosphate)
  • Carbonates (calcium carbonate)
  • Silica compounds
  • Aluminium compounds

These abrasives help to clean the surface of teeth, removing stains and stuck food. You don’t want to choose a toothpaste which is too ‘gritty’, especially for children, as this may damage the enamel and cause irreversible damage. A good toothpaste should have a smooth consistency, and you can test this by feeling it with your fingers.

Whitening Toothpaste

Brushing alone (with any toothpaste) will have a whitening effect. Whitening toothpaste works primarily by increasing the abrasiveness of the product which although they generally remove surface stains, they don’t actually lighten the colour of your teeth. Some whitening toothpastes also contains hydrogen peroxide but at lower concentration than that used professionally.

The downside of using whitening toothpaste is that it can cause irritation and gum inflammation and eventually lead to gum and tissue recession.

Charcoal toothpastes, which are also becoming a popular option for teeth whitening, may also be damaging to sensitive teeth because of how abrasive they are. However, if you’re still eager to use teeth whitening products, you might like to try using Sensodyne Extra Whitening toothpaste for sensitive teeth which helps to whiten teeth while still relieving pain and discomfort related to having sensitive teeth.

Only a proper whitening session with your dentist can deliver the pearly whites that you desire!

I am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Antibacterial Ingredients

There’s been a sudden influx of toothpaste on the market which contains antibacterial ingredients. They claim to reduce and therefore help protect against decay and gum disease as well as stop bad breath.  Triclosan is a well-proven antibacterial agent.

When it comes to antibacterial ingredients, here’s our recommendation: if you’re brushing twice a day and flossing most days, a toothpaste with antibacterial ingredients isn’t necessary.

What about Sensitive Teeth Toothpaste?

If you or your child have sensitive teeth, there are benefits to using a toothpaste specifically designed for this. Both children and adults can experience sensitive teeth, and it is important that the underlying cause is examined by your dentist, otherwise sensitivity will persist.

There are two categories of sensitive toothpastes:

  • Category 1 – containing potassium nitrate and potassium citrate. The most affordable option. Toothpastes containing these ingredients penetrate the teeth, desensitizing the nerve. They need to be used for around 2 weeks before they have any noticeable effect.
  • Category 2 – containing any of the following ingredients: strontium, arginine, calcium sodium phosphosilicate. This type of sensitive toothpaste will reduce pain by sealing the exposed tubules within the dentine.

Colgate and Sensodyne are two of the largest producers of sensitive toothpaste. Ensure that the product you choose also contains fluoride for maximum benefit.

It’s important to remember, if you are experiencing sensitivity, there’s an underlying cause that needs to be treated, or the sensitivity will persist. For example, you might have an acidic mouth environment, that dissolves the surface layer of your teeth, leading to exposure of the nerve endings. Relief provided by the sensitivity toothpaste will only be temporary, and if untreated, may develop into a bigger issue, such as significant tooth wear. A consultation with your dentist is important to investigate what could be contributing to the sensitivity.

Tartar Control Toothpaste

Both before and shortly after brushing, plaque will begin to form on your teeth. Plaque is a sticky film rich with bacteria, and if it isn’t removed regularly it may harden and turn into tartar. Once it turns into tartar it can be extremely difficult to remove, and may also contribute to the development of gum disease.

The best way to prevent tartar build-up is through healthy oral hygiene (brushing twice daily + flossing). You should also visit your dentist on a scheduled basis for professional cleanings. If you have tartar build up, you will need to see your dentist for removal.

Tatar control toothpaste contains ingredients such as pyrophosphates and zinc citrate that may be effective in breaking down plaque on your teeth before it hardens into even-harder-to-remove plaque. These toothpastes, however, are intended to prevent tartar forming rather than removing it, and often do little to prevent tartar build up below the gum line.

What about Natural Toothpastes? Are They Effective?

Natural or ‘herbal’ toothpastes are a valid alternative, but you need to be aware that most of them do not contain fluoride. They usually contain natural abrasive elements (commonly baking soda) instead of chemical ones, and this will be effective at removing surface stains without damaging the enamel.

Due to the lack of fluoride, natural toothpastes will not harden and strengthen the enamel. Therefore, they are not considered to be as effective at preventing decay as conventional toothpaste. If you are interested in using natural toothpastes, you should speak to your dentist first. They will be able to explain the pros/cons and help you make an informed decision.

Children’s Toothpaste – What should I look for?

The dental needs of children are different to adults. When shopping for children’s toothpaste, you should look for the following:

  • Specially formulated children’s toothpaste with a fluoride content between 400-550 ppm
  • Australian Dental Association seal of approval
  • AVOID toothpastes containing harsh abrasives, which may damage the tooth enamel
  • Child-friendly flavours (many children find mint to be too ‘spicy’)

We recommend that fluoride-free toothpastes be used for children under 18 months. This is due to the risk of swallowing the fluoride, which can result in fluorosis. It is not uncommon for tooth decay to show up in baby teeth, and it is critical that a healthy oral hygiene routine is established for your child as early as possible. See our previous blog on caring for baby teeth for some helpful tips.


Specialist Kids Dentist can point you in the right direction!

If you have any questions about choosing the best toothpaste, we can help you make the right decision and show you how to develop an effective oral hygiene routine.

Please contact us on (02) 96006848 to book an appointment or find out more.