Do you find yourself staring mindlessly at the vast array of choices in the toothpaste aisle? Whitening. Tartar Control. Sensitive. Do you really need a toothpaste with so many ingredients?

For the most part, you probably don’t. The most important thing is to brush at least twice a day, making sure the brush is reaching all surfaces of your teeth.

Most toothpastes contain these basic ingredients: abrasives, to scrub the teeth; humectants, to maintain a smooth consistency; detergents, to make the toothpaste foamy; and flavorings for a pleasing taste.

So what do you really need in a toothpaste? Most dentists agree that if there is one ingredient to look for to protect your teeth against decay, fluoride is it. In fact, the American Dental Association will not put its seal of approval on a toothpaste without it.

In kids, there is some concern about fluorosis, a condition that causes white spots to appear on the teeth as a result of ingesting too much fluoride. Young kids should only use a small amount of toothpaste on their brush — the size of a grain of rice for kids under two, and the size of a pea for older kids. It is recommended that parents supervise brushing to make sure their kids are not swallowing toothpaste and are brushing properly.

Beyond fluoride, the best toothpaste for you will depend on your individual needs. Your dentist or hygienist can help identify any problem areas that certain types of toothpaste could help with. For example, are your teeth sensitive? Do you have frequent dry mouth? Do your gums need extra attention? Generally, you will see toothpastes formulated to help address many different issues, including tartar buildup, sensitivity, dry mouth, gingivitis, enamel erosion, stained teeth, and bad breath.

What about natural toothpaste? If you like the idea of a toothpaste without food dyes, artificial flavors and other additives, a natural toothpaste might be a good choice. Keep in mind that many natural toothpastes do not contain fluoride, so check labels carefully.

There is no one category of toothpaste that is ideal for everyone, which is one reason why the selection at the store is so dizzying. Sometimes less is more. If your teeth are healthy and your dentist does not identify specific issues, you could forgo the bells and whistles and choose a simple toothpaste with fluoride.

Ultimately, after taking the needs of your teeth into consideration, it will come down to taste. Because if you don’t enjoy the taste of your toothpaste, you will be less inclined to brush for the recommended amount of time.

It might take some trial and error to find it, but the best toothpaste for you is out there. If you’re looking for recommendations, contact our West Loop office at 312-586-2900 or visit us at