What type of toothpaste or mouthwash should I use?

Ditto to my colleagues Curatolo, Fiss and Rosen!

One thing that is hard to remember among the noise of product promotion is that the real basic health care in dental hygiene is done by the brush and floss, not the toothpaste. A hundred years ago, Dr. Bass cured his own gum disease by inventing the modern toothbrush. The brush can break up the bacterial biofilm that grows on the teeth, and mix some air into the gums. That discourages the oxygen-hating pathogens, and encourages the oxygen-tolerant friendly bacteria.

If you need certain specific medications for your teeth and gums, according to your dentist and hygienist, they should recommend specific products. Otherwise, it doesn't matter -- just low-abrasive, and as natural as you can find.

The key to oral health and wellness is to use products that promote a "robust" and healthy oral biofilm, the natural protective "ecology" in the mouth that protects you, aids in digestion, and is an important part of your body's immune system. The large volume of research that has emerged on the oral biofilm points to a radical departure from the "pesticide approach" of killing plaque and germs, to a new approach of recognizing the importance of restoring balance, known as microbial homeostasis, which is likened to "promoting organic gardening" in the mouth. Use a gentle toothpaste that does not use harsh chemical and detergents but are more nutritional, pH balancing, and a mouthwash that does not contain alcohol. Recently, the Center for Disease Control also released startling statistics on the overexposure to fluoride in adolescents, with more than 4 out of 10 exhibiting damage to their teeth known as fluorosis, a mineralization defect that, in fact makes teeth more prone to decay, ironically, which fluoride was intended to protect. This has prompted an immediate reduction in the use of fluoride, especially unsupervised use in toothpaste.

There are so many oral care products on the store shelves, how do you decide what’s best for you and your family … favorite brand, lowest price, great flavor, safe and effective?

The next time you’re in the store look for the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance to help you make good choices in which toothpaste, mouthrinse and other oral health care products. When you see the ADA Seal on a package, you can be sure the product inside has been thoroughly evaluated to be safe and effective. You may take it for granted that’s true of all products, but to obtain the ADA Seal companies are frequently asked to meet higher standards than what is required by law. Rest assured, products with the Seal have gone the extra mile to prove they do what they say.
Peggy Rosen
For toothpaste select toothpaste that has all natural ingredients such as aloe vera, cinnamon, tea extract, papya plant, citric acid, combine with minimal size of abrasive.

For mouthwash use natural mouthwash that contains oils, salt water with seasalt, hydrogen peroxide and water, herbs, seed extracts, and fruits without artificial dyes or sweeteners.
Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride, which works to fight and cavities. Any toothpaste with fluoride will also clean and polish your tooth enamel. If your teeth are sensitive, opt for a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth.

As far as mouthwash goes, the product you choose should depend on your reason for using it. Most over-the-counter mouthwashes will do the trick if you're just looking to temporarily freshen your breath. If you're looking for extra cavity protection, choose a mouthwash that contains fluoride. If you have a dry mouth, avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol. Antimicrobial mouth rinses reduce the bacteria in your mouth, reduce plaque, and help fight off gingivitis (early gum disease). Ask your dentist whether an  antimicrobial mouth rinse might be appropriate for you.
Many types of toothpastes line the store shelves. Some say they're made for whitening, others for reducing gingivitis and plaque, and others for sensitive teeth. Before choosing toothpaste for your family, know the basics.

As long as toothpaste contains fluoride and its box has the American Dental Association's (ADA) seal of acceptance, it is good for your oral health. Beyond that, choosing toothpastes is a personal choice. Mouthwashes claim to freshen your breath. But they really only mask breath odor for a few hours. If you always need to use a mouthwash to hide bad breath, see your dentist.

This answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

The most important thing to look for when choosing toothpaste is to find one that is a low abrasive. This means definitely avoid the tartar control and whitening pastes. These are very abrasive! They wear away the tooth enamel making the teeth appear darker in color and more sensitive.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.