Ever go to the drugstore to buy toothpaste and end up spending 15 minutes in the “dental” aisle trying to figure out the difference between the plethora of choices out there? Anti-cavity, sure I want that. Tarter-control, sounds good. Fluoride protection, that sounds important. Baking soda, okay. All natural, sounds pretty important for something we’re putting in our mouths. Whitening, um, obviously! But no tube seems to have it all and, well, were left wondering which toothpaste is really best.We mean, is fluoride more important than baking soda? Is tarter control more or less essential than cavity prevention? Well, we just weren’t sure (and were sick of wasting time in the toothpaste aisle!). So, we turned to dental hygienist Amy Hazelwood to help us navigate our toothpaste choices.

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Looking for a one-stop shop? According to Amy, various toothpastes are created to target different concerns and needs of consumers. While most consumers are looking for a toothpaste that will do a handful of things (like freshen breath and protect against cavities), some people have more specific concerns. If you, like us, are just looking for something that does it all, try Crest Pro-Health Clinical Gum Protection Invigorating Clean Mint Toothpaste ($14 for a pack of 2), which protects all of these areas dentist check most: cavities, plaque, tartar, sensitivity, stains and fresh breath.

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Have a specific concern? If you’re looking for something more specifically catered to a specific issue, the outside of the box does a surprisingly good job of telling us what it’s best at! Worried about enamel erosion? Try Sensodyne ProNamel Toothpaste ($5.49). Most concerned with whitening? We love Arm & Hammer Advanced White ($3.99). Care more about your toothpaste being all natural? Try Tom’s of Main Propolis & Myrrh Natural Fluoride Free Toothpaste ($4.99). And if cavities are your primary concern, look for a toothpaste containing fluoride, which will work with your saliva’s natural calcium to target areas of the teeth where early decay might have started or where bacteria may have weakened the teeth.

Does taste matter? As with everything, yes, taste matters! People tend to brush longer and more often if they enjoy the taste and feel of a product, so find a toothpaste that will help you comply in their daily regime. It will lead to better maintenance (or even improvement!) of your oral health in the long run.

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