Chances are, you recognize how important toothpaste is for your hygiene. However, you might not give much thought to this significant product that you use more than once per day. With so many options on the shelf, it is easy to pick up any variety—many patients find themselves choosing the least expensive tube or the brand they have used since childhood.

Many toothpaste brands claim to be the best for your oral health, so how do you know which you should choose? The answer is not easy, because every patient has different needs. You might even have family members that all benefit from a different type of toothpaste living in your home. Here are some things to consider:

  • Look for the seal of approval – Every toothpaste tube that you buy should have the American Dental Association seal, regardless of brand or type. If the toothpaste does not have this seal, don’t buy it.
  • Fluoride – This additive helps to prevent decay and strengthens your tooth enamel, which helps to fight cavities. If you don’t get enough fluoride from your city water, it’s a good idea to look for toothpaste that provides it.
  • Gingivitis fighter – If you have red or bleeding gums, you could benefit from toothpaste that reduces oral bacteria and helps to fight and prevent gingivitis.
  • Tartar control – Many toothpaste brands specialize in controlling tartar buildup. Although this type of toothpaste is not as effective as a professional cleaning, it can help keep things under control in between dentist visits.
  • Sensitivity – If hot or cold beverages cause you pain, look for toothpaste that is for sensitive teeth and gums. This type helps reduce pain by blocking pain signals to the nerves in your mouth.
  • Whitening – If your teeth could use a little brightening, look for whitening toothpaste. These types remove surface stains with polishing agents. Be careful if you have sensitive teeth, though—whitening toothpaste can irritate your teeth and gums.
  • Read the label – Be sure to thoroughly read the label of the toothpaste you are purchasing. Some brands are specialized for kids, and others are only for adults. In addition, many children’s toothpastes are high in sugar.

Above all, you can’t go wrong with asking your dentist which toothpaste he or she recommends for your unique dental care situation.