Dentist weighs in: Do toothpastes live up to their promises?

CLEVELAND - Sensitive, whitening, natural. Whoever thought picking a toothpaste could be such a difficult decision? With all of the choices out there, it can be hard to figure out which one is best for you, and if their claims are true.

"There are a lot of toothpastes, so yeah, it's difficult to figure out which one I'd like to use," said Heather Sprowls.

Picking a toothpaste isn't a difficult choice though for Mara Krause.

"I just look for what I'm looking for and that's sensitive. I just go for that box," she said.

"To me, toothpaste is a personal preference," said MetroHealth Medical Center dentist Dr. Matthew Kirlough said, adding most of the toothpastes do what they claim, at least to a point.

Kirlough said the foaming toothpaste feels different, so if you like it, use it. But as for getting into those hard to reach places, "I'm not so sure that the toothpaste and the foam can get in there as well as floss."

And what about whitening or sensitive tubes? Dr. Kirlough said they can be a good option, but they don't work for everyone. It's not always about the toothpaste.

"Drinking coffee every morning for me is not helping me whiten my teeth," explained Kirlough.

He also cautioned not to expect to see results immediately.

"Desensitizing toothpaste normally is not going to work just with one tube. It's usually going to take a longer time for that process and that deep mineralization to occur," said Kirlough.

There are also the toothpastes that claim to protect your teeth for hours after brushing. Do they work?

"There are certain compounds, an anti-bacterial ingredient, that is put into certain toothpastes and that has been shown to stay on your teeth for an extended period of time," explained Kirlough.

But like antibiotics, bacteria may get used to the compounds meant to fight them and wind up causing problems.

So, what toothpaste does Dr. Kirlough recommend?

"Whichever one's going to make you want to brush more," he said.

Kirlough took the same stance with natural toothpaste. If it's what you prefer and will get you to brush more, use it.

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