No two smiles look the same, nor do they have the same needs, so toothpaste shouldn’t be a one size fits all product. The good news: There’s a perfect toothpaste tailored to what’s going on in your mouth. We talked with top dentists to get their take on which toothpaste is best suited for every need, from someone with a sweet tooth to someone that wants a whiter smile. See which toothpaste is your smile’s perfect match.
Dental procedure aftercare
No one wants to have dental surgery, but you can make the recovery easier on yourself by properly taking care of your mouth while it’s healing. Dry sockets, canker sores, cold sores, and discomfort from braces or Invisalign deserve a little extra TLC.
The experts recommend: StellaLife VEGA Oral Pain Gel ($35)
Beverly Hills, CA cosmetic dentist Katherine Ahn Wallace, DDS loves the relatively new, innovative StellaLife products, which boast a ton of research to back them up. This gel helps accelerate healing, relieve pain and reduce swelling following dental procedures.
For restoring gums
If you experience gum bleeding or other gum issues, Atlanta cosmetic dentist Ronald Goldstein, DDS says it’s important to visit your dentist “and step up your hygienist appointments to make sure your home care is sufficient enough to manage the problem.” He adds that it’s important to “do everything possible to protect the supporting bone underneath the bleeding gums.”
The experts recommend: Parodontax Active Gum Repair Toothpaste ($7)
“This mint-flavored toothpaste is especially effective for bleeding gums, and it also has fluoride that can help prevent decay by strengthening teeth,” says Dr. Goldstein. New York cosmetic dentist Irene Grafman, DDS, also recommends this toothpaste. She explains that it’s “gentle enough on your gums but inhibits bacterial growth to help restore your gums.” Dr. Grafman uses it herself with a Sonicare toothbrush “to loosen and remove bacterial biofilm and keep my teeth and gums healthy.”
For tartar control
Dr. Goldstein says it’s important to understand what tartar is before addressing it. “The bacteria in your mouth combine with food byproducts forming a sticky film we call dental plaque which sticks to your teeth, so it must be removed, with proper brushing techniques If not it hardens and is called tartar,” Dr. Goldstein explains. He notes that this is why he, and other dentists, often recommend two to four appointments a year to have your teeth thoroughly cleaned by dental hygienists.
The experts recommend: Crest Tartar Protection ($3)
According to Dr. Goldstein, this toothpaste helps remove surface stains while also protecting against cavities with sodium fluoride.
The experts recommend: Lumineux Clean and Fresh ($10)
Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist Kourosh Maddahi, DDS suggests this non-toxic toothpaste. He says the Dead Sea salt, clove and basil essential oils in this toothpaste are anti-inflammatory and help reduce plaque.
The experts recommend: Colgate Total Care ($4)
Dr. Ahn recommends Colgate Total Care for those with tartar buildup. She explains that the formula “is great for controlling tartar.” It also fights bacteria, whitens, protects against cavities and strengthens tooth enamel.
For the person with a sweet tooth
Dr. Goldstein admits that he is this person, so he has some great recommendations. “Make sure you see your dental hygienist three times yearly so she or he can take periodic X-rays to show if you are susceptible to tooth decay,” adds Dr. Goldstein.
The experts recommend: Clinpro Tooth Crème
This toothpaste you can get through your dentist has a more concentrated .21% sodium fluoride, calcium and phosphate. Dr. Goldstein says he uses it as the final step in his nightly routine at home. “After brushing, spit out but do not rinse after that,” he warns. It’s great in conjunction with Clinpro 5000 Toothpaste, which contains 1.1% sodium fluoride to help strengthen the tooth enamel, says Dr. Goldstein.
The experts recommend: Colgate PreviDent 5000
“High concentration of fluoride applied topically has been shown to help rebuild enamel,” says Dr. Grafman. Another prescription toothpaste, PreviDent 5000 has 1.1% sodium fluoride. Dr. Maddahi also says this is a good toothpaste for someone experiencing “high recurrent decay.”
For bad breath
No one wants to have bad breath—luckily, there are solutions. “Bad breath is usually an indication of an imbalance of bad versus good bacteria,” says Dr. Grafman. “The bad bacteria responsible for gum disease, cavities, bad breath, etc. produce by-products, which result in being released as bad breath.”
The experts recommend: Smart Mouth Toothpaste ($8)
“I recommend and use Smart Mouth toothpaste first thing in the morning, and after breakfast, I rinse with Smart Mouth Breath Rinse ($22),” says Dr. Goldstein. He adds that if this doesn’t work, you need to see a dentist to address the deeper problem.
The experts recommend: CariFree CTx4 Gel 1100 .24% ($17)
“The key is to create a proper pH in your mouth which keeps a healthy environment in your mouth and helps prevent cavities, gum disease and bad breath,” says Dr. Grafman. She adds that this gel is formulated to do just that.
The experts recommend: Oxyfresh Fresh Breath Lemon Mint Toothpaste ($13)
San Francisco cosmetic dentist Swati Agarwal, DDS explains that this toothpaste is “formulated with zinc and special ‘oxygene’ compound to help reduce bad breath.” The proprietary oxygene technology uses the non-toxic process of oxidation to break odor bonds.
The experts recommend: Philips Sonicare BreathRx Whitening Toothpaste ($10)
Houston cosmetic dentist Guy Lewis, DDS recommends this toothpaste to knock out bad breath. The formula features Zytex, a unique blend of zinc and thymol and eucalyptus essential oils to neutralize odors.
For the person with cavities
“If you have tooth decay, obviously the best treatment is to have all the decay removed from your mouth and replaced with perfect fitting tooth restorations,” says Dr. Goldstein. However, until you can get to the dentist, and to help prevent similar problems in the future, there are some toothpaste options that can help.
The experts recommend: MI Paste One ($27)
This toothpaste contains recaldent and fluoride, which both help boost essential minerals in your mouth that help rebuild enamel, including fluoride, calcium and phosphate, explains Dr. Grafman. “This product is great for people with beginnings of cavities or weak enamel as it helps to treat sensitivity, remineralize tooth enamel and prevent white spot lesions,” says Dr. Grafman.
The experts recommend: CariFree Pro Gel 5000
Dr. Agarwal recommends this prescription-only toothpaste for those that tend to get cavities. The formula features “fluoride, nano-hydroxyapatite and pH neutralization to stop cavities in their tracks,” she explains.
Before endeavoring to get whiter teeth, you should first determine why your teeth are discolored, says Dr. Goldstein. While some issues can be addressed with toothpaste and at-home whitening techniques, others need a professional’s touch. If your teeth are yellow, consider talking to your dentist about options. However, if you have surface stains, Dr. Goldstein recommends “first getting a prophylaxis from your dental hygienist and see if all the stains are removed.” Then, follow that up with a whitening toothpaste.
The experts recommend: Colgate Revitalizing White with Activated Charcoal ($7)
Dr. Goldstein recommends this toothpaste, which features activated charcoal to help remove surface stains.
The experts recommend: Crest 3D White Brilliance Two-Step Toothpaste ($13)
This two-step system helps clean and brighten teeth. However, Dr. Agarwal warns against overusing the pair. “The first step is mildly abrasive, so long-term use isn’t recommended,” she explains.
The experts recommend: Opalescene Whitening Toothpaste ($24)
Dr. Lewis recommends both the general whitening toothpaste and the sensitive formula from Opalescence. A study showed that after using this toothpaste for a month, teeth were, on average, two shades whiter.
For sensitive teeth
Pinpointing the cause of your tooth sensitivity will help you address the problem. Some pain will not be able to be helped by switching toothpaste. This kind of pain is likely a result of deep decay or an abscessed tooth, which you’ll need to see a dentist for, says Dr. Goldstein. “However the most common cause of tooth sensitivity is tooth erosion or abrasion, usually at the gumline. This wearing away of the tooth enamel exposes the underlying dentin tubules which contain your nerve endings and can result in sensitivity when you brush or eat cold foods such as ice cream.”
The experts recommend: Sensodyne Fresh Mint Toothpaste
Dr. Goldstein says Sensodyne is the “granddaddy” of the sensitive toothpaste category. This product, in particular, includes 5% potassium nitrate and sodium fluoride. Los Altos, CA cosmetic dentist Marlana Shile, DDS also notes that “desensitizing toothpastes like Sensodyne are especially helpful for people who have extra sensitive enamel, or exposed roots.”