Toothpaste and Fluoride

Laura Leonard, our dental hygienist answers your questions on toothpaste and fluoride . . . .

As a dental hygienist one of the most common questions I am asked is “What is the best toothpaste to use?”  So many brands; sensitive, total, whitening, the list goes on, even as a dental hygienist I find myself in the dental care aisle looking bamboozled!

Toothpaste alongside good tooth brushing aids in removing plaque from the teeth.

What ingredients should I look out for?


Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water in varying amounts depending in where in the UK you live.

Fluoride plays a crucial role in preventing tooth decay, this is why it is added to many brands of toothpaste and, in some areas, to the water supply through a process called fluoridation. Gloucestershire doesn’t have fluoride added to the water, to reduce the risk of tooth decay I would recommend using a fluoride containing toothpaste.

NHS guidelines recommend that toothpastes containing 1,350 to 1,500ppm (parts per million) of fluoride will be most effective. Most off the shelf brands will contain this level of fluoride, but some natural or organic pastes might not contain any so do check.  The amount of fluoride in a product can be found on the back of the tube or pump.

For children aged 0-3 a smear of fluoride toothpaste containing not less than 1,000ppm should be used.  For children aged 3-6, a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste containing 1,000ppm to 1350ppm should be used and for children over 6 fluoride toothpaste containing 1350-1500ppm is recommended.  Brushing should be supervised to prevent the paste being swallowed.

Sensitive Toothpastes

Using a desensitising toothpaste can help to prevent sensitivity by interrupting the signals from the surface of the tooth to the nerve. Ingredients include: potassium nitrate, stannous fluoride and arginine.  The main sensitive toothpaste brands include Sensodyne and Colgate sensitive pro relief, if you find the toothpaste in ineffective try an alternative with a different active ingredient.

Whitening Toothpastes

Whitening toothpaste can appear to whiten teeth slightly by removing surface stains, such as those caused by drinking tea, coffee or smoking. However, whitening toothpastes can’t change the natural colour of your teeth or lighten a stain that goes deeper than a tooth’s surface. To remove surface stains, whitening toothpaste typically include abrasives that gently polish the teeth.  Some of these toothpastes can be very abrasive and are not recommended for daily use do to the risk of damage to the enamel surface of the tooth.

Which paste is best?

Toothpaste is often a personal choice, flavour, texture, price or a recommended brand.  I always recommend a fluoride containing toothpaste, look for a sensitive paste if struggling with sensitivity and after brushing it is important to spit out excess paste rather than rinsing out to allow the fluoride in the toothpaste to remain in contact with the tooth surface for as long as possible.

For further information on dental care, or to make an appointment for a consultation please call us on 01242 809912

Laura Leonard

Dental Hygienist GDC Reg 6419

Diploma in Dental Hygiene, Member of the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy

Arden House Dental and Cosmetic Clinic

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