The best toothpaste for gum disease (you may be surprised)

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Take a quick glance at the oral hygiene section in any supermarket or pharmacy and you’ll see dozens of toothpastes. There are different brands, sizes, and formulations. Some contain ‘special ingredients’. Others are for a specific purpose; like whitening or keeping decay at bay. So, how do you pick the best toothpaste for gum disease? Does such a toothpaste even exist?

Here’s the thing. Poor oral hygiene is the main cause of gum disease. In other words, not brushing and flossing daily or not brushing accurately. So, the best gum disease toothpaste is one that you like the taste and feel of and are going to use daily.  

Here’s a look at the toothpaste options available. Find out what the difference is between toothpastes. Plus, there’s even a few tips to help you brush up on the best way to clean teeth.

Is toothpaste really necessary?

There are several reasons why toothpaste is important. Of course, there’s the pleasant fresh-breath-and-mouth feel. But there’s more to it than that. 

Fluoride is an important mineral for dental health. It helps to strengthen teeth and enamel and protect against decay. It does this by making the enamel more resistant to acid attacks. Fluoride enables the production of stronger molecules in the enamel. This action slows the occurrence of decay. 

Not a fan of fluoride? Brushing your teeth with toothpaste is still beneficial. 

Toothpaste acts as a carrier for a range of active ingredients—whether it’s coconut oil, calcium, or sodium bicarbonate (to name a few). These ingredients may not be as effective at preventing cavities as fluoride. Yet, they can provide antibacterial benefits and act as an abrasive.

Imagine washing your clothes without detergent? Toothpaste acts like dental detergent. With the right tools (your toothbrush and floss), toothpaste helps to lift away dental plaque (oral biofilm) for a better clean.

The Australian Dental Association recommends that adults and children brush with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day.
Toothpaste acts like dental detergent. With the right tools (your toothbrush and floss), toothpaste helps to lift away dental plaque for a better clean.

What are the different types of toothpaste?

Whitening, tartar-control, desensitising, natural toothpaste—the list goes on. But what’s the difference, exactly?

Fluoride toothpaste

The Australian Dental Association recommends that adults and children brush with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day. As we mentioned before, fluoride helps to harden your tooth enamel, protecting against tooth decay and cavities.

Whitening toothpaste

Whitening toothpastes contain abrasives and bleaching agents to remove and prevent stains, as well as lighten the teeth colour. Common ingredients include silica, pyrophosphates, hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Remember though, store bought whitening toothpaste contains a low concentration of bleaching agents. This means it’ll only lighten teeth by one to two shades.

Particularly if you have gum disease, talk to your dentist or periodontist about your teeth whitening options. Teeth whitening is best performed on healthy teeth—once any existing underlying issues, including periodontitis and gum recession, have been managed.

Desensitising toothpaste

Anyone can suffer from sensitive teeth. But if you have periodontitis, you no doubt know it can cause gum recession and tooth sensitivity. This is because gum recession leads to the tooth roots becoming exposed.

The ingredients in sensitive toothpaste work in two main ways:

  1. They can create a barrier to block the sensation reaching the nerve in the tooth.
  2.  They reduce the response from nerves in the tooth to stimuli, such as cold and heat. Ingredients that work in this way include arginine, potassium nitrate, and calcium carbonate. Other ingredients (like stannous fluoride) soothe the nerves to reduce and ease sensitivity.

The good news is that most sensitive toothpastes contain fluoride. So, not only are you addressing your tooth sensitivity, but also protecting against decay and cavities. (These are both culprits when it comes to tooth sensitivity.)

Dry mouth toothpaste

Dry mouth alone is not the cause of gum disease. Yet, it can exacerbate gingivitis (early-stage gum disease). Without saliva, there’s also nothing to neutralise acid levels after eating. Dry mouth can also result in increased plaque build-up because of reduced ‘self-cleansing’, which puts your oral health at risk.

Most toothpastes contain sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), as a foaming agent. Dry mouth toothpastes tend to be SLS free. This is because SLS can increase dryness and oral irritation. Instead, they contain ingredients that stimulate saliva and neutralise acid. 

Dry mouth toothpaste also often contains enzymes, which improve lubricity and improve mouth comfort.

Medicated toothpastes

Dentists and periodontists may prescribe toothpaste with a higher concentration of active ingredients. For example, NeutraFluor 5000 Plus. This has a high concentration of sodium fluoride for those at high risk of dental decay (caries). 

Perio Plus+ Focus gel contains chlorhexidine—an antiseptic providing antibacterial benefits. Studies show that both mouthwash and toothpaste containing chlorhexidine are effective at preventing dental plaque and reducing gingivitis. 

There’s also GC Tooth Mousse, containing bioavailable calcium and phosphate. These ingredients stimulate the remineralisation of tooth enamel. They also act as a buffer against the acid from bacteria in the mouth.

Tartar control toothpaste

Under certain circumstances, dental plaque can harden, creating tartar (calculus). Tartar, which can form above and below the gum line, can lead to receding gums and gum disease. Tartar control toothpaste contains ingredients to help reduce the build-up of tartar. This includes pyrophosphates, zinc citrate and sodium hexametaphosphate. It is questionable as to how effective these ingredients are.

If left untreated, no amount of brushing or flossing will remove tartar from your teeth. You’ll need to visit your periodontist, dentist or hygienist. They have the appropriate tools to get rid of tartar. They can also discuss ways to prevent calculus build-up.

Natural toothpaste

Natural toothpastes tend to be free from sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and fluoride. Common ingredients in natural toothpaste include aloe vera, eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, baking powder, and calcium carbonate.

Dr Ed Ohlrich discusses dental cleaning with a patient at EO Perio.
The truth is the best toothpaste for gum disease is whichever one you like and contains fluoride. For those with gum disease, how you clean your teeth is more important than which toothpaste you use.

So, what’s the best toothpaste for gum disease?

The truth is the best toothpaste for gum disease is whichever one you like and contains fluoride. To manage periodontitis, plaque (biofilm) must be removed properly and regularly from the tooth surface. 


If you have other oral concerns, you may want to switch from a regular fluoride toothpaste. For example, if you have teeth sensitivity, you might try a desensitising formula.


Final thoughts…

 

For those with gum disease, how you clean your teeth is more important than which toothpaste you use. It’s important to brush teeth twice a day and incorporate interdental cleaning aids to remove plaque from those hard-to-reach places. Regular professional dental cleans will help to control tartar, and keep your teeth and gum health in check.

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