Everyone should be using fluoridated toothpastes, as they have a long history of evidence supporting their effectiveness in reducing decay and strengthening the enamel and is preferable over “natural” fluoride-free toothpastes.
Fears over fluoride being “toxic” or “poisonous” are largely unsubstantiated, for the amounts ingested during toothbrushing would be insignificant to adversely affect one’s health. Unless you are planning to eat an entire tube of fluoridated toothpaste in one go (which is NOT recommended), you need not worry about the fluoride harming you. Instead, fluoride will help to protect your teeth from caries (tooth decay), to slow down the progression of any decay, and to increase the longevity of any restorations such as fillings, crowns, or bridges in your mouth.
Toothpaste for Kids – With Fluoride or Fluoride-Free?
For young children below the age of 6 who have a tendency to swallow their toothpaste, it is best to avoid fluoride-containing toothpaste to reduce the risk of excessive fluoride consumption which may result in fluorosis (formation of unaesthetic white or yellow patches) of the adult teeth, which are still developing inside their gums. In fact, using a toothpaste is not necessary at all in young children! However, if your child has Early Childhood Caries (ECC) where there is at least 1 decayed tooth present, then using fluoridated toothpaste is recommended to reduce the risk of more decay, but with close supervision to reduce the risk of toothpaste being swallowed.
After the age of 6, fluoride-containing toothpaste should be introduced but it is always prudent to continue supervision of their brushing until they are independent enough to do it on their own.
Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth
If you have sensitive teeth, try using desensitising toothpastes formulated for sensitive teeth as they contain additional ingredients to block out ‘porosities’ in the teeth and provide relief. At the same time, avoid whitening toothpastes as they contain more abrasive ingredients which will cause more wear and therefore more sensitivity (as they are designed to remove more stains in order to ‘whiten’ the teeth). This also applies to toothpaste containing charcoal or baking soda, as these are also very abrasive and should be avoided.
However, if you have very sensitive teeth (to the point where you avoid biting or even touching the affected teeth), it may be best to have your teeth checked as there may be other causes for sensitivity, and certain treatment options are available to address the issue.
Are Whitening Toothpastes Effective?
All whitening toothpastes available in Singapore do not contain any active bleaching ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which can penetrate into the teeth’s layer in order to change the natural colour of your teeth. These are considered controlled drug items and are only available from the dentist in the form of whitening gels.
Toothpaste marketed as “whitening” usually contain a higher amount of abrasives to remove surface stains (from smoking, coffee or tea), however their “whitening” effect is limited and excessive use coupled with high brushing forces will actually damage and thin the enamel (the outer layer of the tooth). This may actually make the teeth appear more yellow in the long run, because the white enamel layer is now thinner and the deeper layer of the tooth, which is the much yellower dentine, will become more apparent. Additionally, you may find your teeth becoming more sensitive over time, especially near the gum or root areas.
Some whitening toothpastes contain the chemical covarine, which is a blue pigment that adheres to the teeth’s surface of the teeth and helps to create an optical illusion that make teeth appear less yellow. Unfortunately, these toothpastes are currently not available for sale in Singapore.
How Much Toothpaste Should I be Using?
A pea-sized amount of toothpaste is sufficient, and any more would not impart additional benefits except to increase the frequency of buying more toothpaste!
For young children below the age of 3, you can choose to skip the toothpaste, or to use just a smear of toothpaste on the toothbrush.Back to top