The Best Dentist-Approved Toothpastes

Three packages of toothpasteThe toothpaste aisle always seems to have something new in it, but toothpaste that only clean your teeth are SO old news.

“Companies are trying to cash in on the buzz about how good oral hygiene can help you fend off a host of health problems, including heart disease,” says Kenneth Young, D.D.S., a private-practice dentist in New York. “This has led to increasing specialization in toothpaste.”

So out of all the staggering selections out there, which ones do the dentists recommend the most?

For Total Mouth Health:

Only one brand, Crest Pro-Health ($4), is accepted by the American Dental Association in six categories. It whitens, reduces sensitivity, and helps prevent cavities, gingivitis, plaque, and bad breath. One caveat: Its stannous fluoride can cause tooth staining. If you notice brown spots, alert your dentist, who can easily remove them.

For Whiter Teeth:

Most whiteners are not powerful enough. For real results, pick a product with hydrogen peroxide, such as Supersmile Professional Whitening System ($36, Bonus: Two tubes keep the toothpaste separate from the whitening gel, the best way to maintain bleaching power, according to Japanese research.

For Sensitive Teeth:

Most sensitivity formulas contain 5 percent potassium nitrate, which blocks receptors that translate hot and cold signals into pain. We like Sensoclyne ProNamel iso-active ($5) because it’s also pH balanced to help prevent acid erosion. To maximize the pain blocking, spit after brushing, but then wait 20 minutes before rinsing.

For Gum Health:

The best way to kill the germs that cause gum disease is to use a toothpaste with the antimicrobial triclosan, such as Colgate Total ($4.50). In a University at Buffalo study, it outgunned a stannous fluoride product. Just brush at a 45-degree angle, which helps the bristles reach up under your gum line, where bacteria burrow.

For Natural Protection:

Go natural to avoid artificial flavors and colors, but make sure the brand you choose has cavity-fighting fluoride. The Natural Dentist Anticavity ($6) has fluoride as well as xylitol (which makes plaque less sticky) and aloe vera (an inflammation fighter). Plus, it’s free of sodium lauryl sulfate, a foaming agent that may cause canker sores.