Toothpaste for adults
The majority of toothpastes combine the caries protection of fluoride with other agents to control plaque, tartar and gum disease. These can help individuals to improve their plaque control by the inclusion of antibacterial agents. Many include Triclosan and those with a product licence have been shown to offer a clinically useful improvement in gum health.
Other pastes specifically target 'tartar' and use phyrosphosphate to inhibit the calcification of dental plaque and hence the build-up of tartar (calculus).The most recent approach has been the development of 'all in one' toothpaste containing a number of agents which reduce tartar formation, improve gum health and prevent dental caries. It is important to verify that these new toothpastes have been 'clinically proven' by seeking information from dental public health personnel with expertise in the field.
People who smoke often suffer stained teeth because of tar deposits. Some smokers toothpastes use stronger abrasives to remove these stains. Vigorous brushing with more abrasive pastes may damage the enamel over time.
Special toothpaste to combat hypersensitivity
One of the consequences of ageing is that gum margins may recede, exposing the root surface of certain teeth, which in some instances result in hypersensitivity and pain - for example, when eating an ice cream or drinking cold drinks. Toothpaste specifically formulated for sensitive teeth can be effective in relieving the pain; these products vary in the way they work.
These pastes are being promoted primarily on the basis of cosmetic benefit. The market for these pastes is likely to continue to rise due to the increased retention of natural teeth by the middle aged and elderly, since enamel tends to lose its whiteness with age. Some whitening toothpastes use fluoride and an enzyme system.
Whitening toothpastes are not to be confused with hydrogen (or carbamide) peroxide whitening systems that may be accessed only through a dental practitioner. EU directives arising from The European Communities (Cosmetic Products) prohibit the direct sale to consumers of tooth whitening or oral hygiene products containing or releasing more than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide.
As of 31 October 2012, oral products with a concentration of more than 0.1% and up to 6.0% hydrogen peroxide present or released may be made available to consumers with the restrictions that such products may only be accessed through a dental practitioner, that the first application of each cycle of use is by the dental practitioner and that the consumer is over 18 years of age.
A wide range of "natural" toothpaste products is also available. These toothpastes are made from herbal extracts and other natural ingredients, such as essential oil of ginger, seaweed extract, propolis and much else. The health claims of many "natural" toothpastes have not been clinically proven. Thus, it is important to check if these "natural" toothpastes contain fluoride, a proven active ingredient for the prevention of tooth decay.