What toothpaste should I use?

"What toothpaste should I use?" is probably the most commonly asked question I get. I hear it all the time. Patients ask when they are getting their teeth cleaned by Colleen and Avni. People I went to high school with message me on Facebook and ask me. The cashier at HEB asks me when she see's the name on my credit card. I can understand why, considering what the dental care aisle at the grocery store looks like!


As you can see, there are so many options. These companies make all sorts of crazy claims about their products. It's so easy to get lost in the sea of teal and aqua.

For me, my choice is simple. I use Colgate Total and I think you should too.


I use Colgate Total for a couple of different reasons.

1. Triclosan. Triclosan is an anti-bacterial agent present in only one toothpaste…Colgate Total. You will also find it in some anti-bacterial soaps and hygiene products. Triclosan is what sets Colgate Total apart from every other toothpaste on the market. It's approved by the FDA as a completely separate product…the only toothpaste to have gone through the vigorous amount of research that it takes for FDA approval. Every other toothpaste on the market is approved via the monograph system, which is much less rigorous. In addition to Triclosan, Colgate Total has a co-polymer that helps the Triclosan fight bacteria for up to 12 hours. Without the co-polymer, the anti-bacterial activity is gone at the first sip of water. With the co-polymer, you get all day bacterial fighting action. Pretty cool.

2. Sodium fluoride. I know in my brain that fluoride is safe and effective. I use these words carefully. Anti-fluoride activists will often say "I don't believe in fluoride." It's not Santa Claus. There is nothing to believe in or not believe in. There is only science. Science….lots of it…..the good kind with double blind peer-reviewed randomized controlled trials…show that fluoride is safe and effective for preventing tooth decay. I can not recommend a tooth paste that doesn't have fluoride in it. Most toothpastes have fluoride in them, which is good. Some don't. Stay away. It's just not worth it. Using a fluoride toothpaste will save you money on dental work. Colgate Total has sodium fluoride in it. I think there's an important distinction. Total's #1 competitor, Crest Pro Health, uses stannous fluoride. Stannous fluoride is a different kind of fluoride. While still effective at preventing decay, it can stain teeth. Badly. Usually we can polish the stain off, but its a chore. And it usually builds fast…faster than every 6 months. So chances are if you use Crest Pro Health, you will not like the way your teeth look and it will be weeks before your next cleaning. Here is typical Crest Pro Health staining.

In addition to staining, I often see something called desquamative gingivitis with Crest Pro Health users. Another side effect of stannous fluoride. Desquamative gingivitis is where the very top thin layer of epithelium peels away in large sheets. It really isn't a problem per se, but it is alarming and can make your mouth more sensitive to spices.
The highest endorsement that I can give to an oral health care product is to tell you that I use it myself. I use Colgate Total. It is my toothpaste of choice for most patients. If you are a patient in my practice, in your goodie bag, you will most likely get a tube of Colgate Total. I think that says it all.