Did you know that people have been brushing their teeth since 3500-3000 BC? History actually confirms that Babylonians and Egyptians used a twig with a frayed end to “brush” their teeth. “Toothsticks” have been found alongside their owners in tombs. The Chinese also started “brushing” their teeth around 1600 BC, by using aromatic tree twigs to freshen their breath.
You might be interested to learn that the first “toothpastes” used were varied and included powdered ox hooves’ ashes, burnt eggshells, crushed bones, oyster shells, powdered charcoal and bark, ginseng, herbal mints and salt. Although today’s toothpastes don’t generally use those ingredients (whew), the reasons why ancient cultures brushed their teeth – and why it’s important for you to brush yours – contain some of the same reasons: keeping teeth and gums clean, whitening teeth and freshening breath.
These ancient peoples faced some pretty tough challenges, but they didn’t have to face the challenge of walking into the toothpaste aisle at the grocery store or drugstore and being faced down by a huge variety of toothpastes – all touting their reasons why you should pick them. So how do you choose a toothpaste for you and your family? There are some simple things to keep in mind as you decide. Remember, teeth should be brushed at a minimum twice a day for two minutes each time.
Fluoride or No?
The American Dental Association (ADA) and other experts recommend fluoride in toothpaste and drinking water. The ADA recommends using toothpaste that contains fluoride, however, some people disagree and prefer avoiding added fluoride. It’s a personal choice and if you don’t want fluoride in your toothpaste, there are some other products available, including natural ones that are fluoride free. Even baking soda can be used as a natural toothpaste.
The ADA offers its seal of approval on some toothpastes that meet the organization’s standards. However, participation in this program is voluntary and just because a toothpaste doesn’t carry this approval seal does not necessarily mean it’s not a good option. In order to qualify for the seal of approval, toothpaste must:
What Exactly is RDA?
In order to properly clean teeth and help remove plaque, most toothpaste contains abrasive agents. Relative dentin abrasivity (RDA) measures the level of abrasiveness in a toothpaste. The RDA in toothpaste should not exceed 250 – any more than that and it could damage your teeth. Tartar results from bacteria on the teeth forming into plaque and then hardening into tartar. Tartar is hard to remove and if present, should be handled by a dental professional. There are tartar controlling toothpastes on the market for those who are prone to this issue.
To Whiten or Not
Is whiter and brighter better? Having a bright smile can make you look younger and feel better. Yes, there are safe and effective toothpastes that can provide abrasive ingredients to help whiten your teeth. Be careful that you don’t purchase a whitening toothpaste that actually harms your teeth. Your dental professional can help you with safe choice. If you have sensitive teeth, you’ll want to be careful with toothpastes that whiten.
There are over-the-counter toothpastes that contain ingredients such as potassium nitrate to help block pain from hot and cold food and drink items. If your teeth are very sensitive, your dental professional may be able to prescribe a stronger alternative.
Yes, we face a lot of choices when we head into the toothpaste aisle, but knowing your preferences and objectives can help narrow down the choices. An important takeaway, especially when buying toothpaste for children, is to avoid toothpaste that contains sugar and other products that promote tooth decay. Whether you prefer a natural approach or plan to take advantage of best sellers, always remember to brush twice a day for a minimum of two minutes each time, followed by flossing, to keep your oral health at its maximum. You should visit your dental professional at least twice a year for professional cleanings and checkups. Contact us today to set up an appointment.
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