The sheer amount of toothpaste variations can be downright overwhelming. How do you pick the “right” one, when faced with all these options? Don’t worry – we’ve put together a cheat sheet that you can take with you to the toothpaste aisle! There are really just four major types of toothpaste when we break it down:

Tartar Control

If you struggle with tartar – or plaque –and want to prevent buildup, this is the perfect formula. Toothpaste for tartar control contains effective ingredients that break down plaque before it hardens on the tooth, which is what often makes plaque so difficult to remove. While toothpaste doesn’t prevent buildup below the gum line, it is still an excellent preventative measure and does prevent buildup on the tooth itself! A possible side effect is sensitive teeth due to the chemical that dissolves the tartar. 


This is perhaps the most popular type of toothpaste, and almost every brand offers it. These products use tough chemicals to gently scrub off surface stains, while others use softer material like peroxide to lift discoloration. It’s important to be aware that whitening toothpastes can cause tooth sensitivity, and is not recommended for kids 18 and under. We suggest consulting your dentist if you’re interested in whitening, especially for children.

Sensitive Teeth

For individuals who experience discomfort with hot or cold foods and drinks, there are special formulas that are great for sensitive teeth. This type of toothpaste is often much less abrasive than regular toothpastes. You can usually identify them because they contain either potassium nitrate or strontium chloride, which both help reduce sensitivity by decreasing nerve signals in the teeth.

For Children

It’s important to purchase toothpaste that is specifically for your child, because children’s teeth are very different than an adults’. We recommend starting toddlers with “training” toothpaste, which is designed to be perfectly safe to swallow! For other children, there are many kid-friendly toothpastes that use less fluoride (which children are particularly sensitive to), as well as more palatable flavors your child will enjoy.

If you are unsure of what brand is best for you and your family, consult your dentist to see what they recommend! Also, it’s important to make sure that any toothpaste you use has earned approval from the American Dental Association. To learn more about toothpaste or to make your next dental appointment, call our office today at (562) 434-6414.