If you have recently visited a dental professional, they may have told you that you have gum disease or gingivitis. You may now be wondering if there is actually a toothpaste that is best for your gums.
In this post I explain the various options available to you, and what you should do when brushing your teeth.
The list of toothpastes below is specifically targeted at people with gum disease – including both gingivitis or periodontal disease. I also explain the different ways in which toothpastes can help your gum disease.
If you are unsure about whether or not you have gum disease, get yourself booked in with a dental professional for a check up.
Do you need a specialist toothpaste for gum disease, or can you use a regular one?
If you have gum disease, the most important thing is how you clean your teeth. The physical action of cleaning to remove the bacteria is more important than what toothpaste you use.
Using a regular toothpaste, and with good brushing and interdental cleaning technique, you should be able to get on top of early gum disease.
That said, you may want to use a specific toothpaste for gum disease if:
- You want help seeing where the plaque is – you could try a toothpaste with disclosing in it.
- You want additional help from specific antibacterial chemicals.
- Your gums are so sore that regular toothpaste hurts – you may want a more gentle toothpaste.
The toothpaste acts as a chemical plaque control in addition to the mechanical plaque control. In fact, having the right toothpaste can actually improve your gum disease as it has been shown:
- Toothpastes with antimicrobials improve gum disease more than just mechanical cleaning alone (as explained by Teles & Teles).
- Toothpaste spread onto the soft tissues in the mouth, which are not normally physically cleaned (and therefore bacteria can linger here). The chemicals can reduce the bacteria load on areas like the tongue and cheeks which would not otherwise be cleaned.
5 good toothpaste options for gum disease
In the list below I’ve included 5 good toothpastes that are worth considering if you have gum disease.
They do offer slightly different things, so read over the pros and cons of each to find out which is best suited to your situation.
If you have any doubts, do check with your dentist on your next visit.
Arm & Hammer PeroxiCare Fluoride Anti-Cavity Toothpaste
This toothpaste contains fluoride, but also the added ingredients of baking soda and peroxide, which can help with gum disease and bad breath. This is my pick for the best of the baking soda toothpastes when it comes to gum disease.
There are no real problems with this toothpaste, apart from the fact that some users dislike the taste – but most reviews are comparing this to a discontinued product. Baking soda toothpastes can taste strange initially, but most people have no problem adapting to them.
- Contains sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) which will help with bleeding gums and removing staining
- Contains peroxide which can help with bad breath and bleeding gums.
- Contain 0.24% or 1100ppm fluoride for protection against cavities.
- Larger than average tube of toothpaste
- Available in stores locally
- Low RDA
- Users report gritty texture
- Baking soda affects flavour
Colgate Total SF Clean Mint
This is my pick for easily available toothpastes, one that contains stannous fluoride and so can help with mild gingivitis (without costing a lot).
Colgate Total SF has a range of different toothpastes, including Fresh Mint and Deep Clean. When researching, I was unable to find any major differences between the formulations of these pastes, and they have the same active ingredients. I suspect the largest differences are probably the taste and the price. There aren’t any that I wouldn’t recommend, but perhaps you could choose depending on what is on offer at the time.
- Stannous Fluoride – protection against cavities, gum disease, and sensitivity
- Fights bacteria on teeth, tongue, cheeks and gums for Whole Mouth Health
- Additional zinc phosphate.
- Gluten free
- Available in stores locally
- Stannous fluoride can be linked to staining.
- Only limited protection against sensitivity.
Plaque HD Anticavity Toothpaste
Plaque HD is special, because it stains the plaque on your teeth to help with removal of the damage-causing bacteria. This simplifies the process of “disclosing” as only one product is needed – no need for chewing on tablets.
This toothpaste is great for kids and adults alike. It would be particularly useful to help with brushing around braces and if you suffer from gum disease, as this is when removing plaque is especially important.
There is fluoride for protection against cavities, and two different flavours are available as well as a whitening option.
- Contains fluoride
- Contains disclosing ingredient to show where plaque is
- Easier than disclosing tablets
- Helps make cleaning teeth easier
- Suitable for the whole family
- Mint and non mint flavours available
- Costly toothpaste
- Same effect as disclosing tablets (which are more cost effective)
OraltidePRO Intensive Repair Gel
This toothpaste has been developed in Japan. I have listed it as one of the top 5, not for use as a daily toothpaste, but because it is a highly specialist regenerative gel. It is designed to be used just weekly.
It’s benefits for the gums come from the peptides in the formula. The peptides also promote healing and reduce swelling in the gums, reversing gum disease. They also help the body to regenerate tissue, in theory helping to re-grow the gum. This is also useful for treating any ulcers or sore spots in your mouth.
The effect on the gums isn’t instant though, and they advise that to see “growth of gums” you will need to use the gel at least 6 times.
Also be aware that even if scientific literature does point towards “gum regrowth” this may be in such small amounts that you can’t visibly notice it day to day.
Whilst this gel is expensive, it is not used daily it and so it should last a while. It could be something that is useful to you in addition to good oral hygiene practices.
- Uses new technology to encourage regeneration of tissue
- Contains casein phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate (CPP-ACP) to help teeth enamel to remineralise
- Sodium bicarbonate contributes to gum health and stain removal
- Contains two peptides
- Comes with tray system and should only be used once per week
- Suitable for vegetarians
- Will still need a daily toothpaste on top of using this gel
- No fluoride
- Only available in selected online outlets
Biorepair® Gum Protection
I have selected this toothpaste as it contains hyaluronic acid (HA). What makes it special is that it also has a remineralisation effect due to the MircoRepair formula.
MicroRepair® is zinc-substituted-carbonate-hydroxyapatite crystals, and aids remineralisation of enamel and dentine. This ultimately means that although there is no fluoride in the toothpaste, there is some protection against tooth decay and tooth erosion. Biorepair claim that this is also able to relieve sensitivity.
Prevention of gum disease is aided by the presence of antibacterial zinc, whilst HA provides some regeneration of the gums.
This is moving towards newer technology in toothpastes. And although there is some scientific literature behind it, be aware that you may not see much of a difference in the mouth.
- Contains hyaluronic acid for healing and regeneration of gum tissues
- Zinc PCA is antibacterial, fighting plaque (the cause of gingivitis)
- MicroRepair® formula contains Hydroxyapatite for remineralisation to tooth tissues, protecting against cavities and relieving tooth sensitivity.
- SLS free
- Parabens free
- No fluoride for cavity protection
- Only available in selected online outlets
Where to buy
- 4.1ounce / 116g tube
- Approx. $8-9 per tube
How to clean your teeth if you have gum disease
Signs of gingivitis (early gum disease) include bleeding gums, and you may have noticed this before you even went to see a dental professional. A complete explanation about gum disease and its causes is covered in our article on gum disease, but to recap, gingivitis is caused by bacteria not cleaned away thoroughly.
Left untreated, early gum disease will progress into periodontal disease, where bone is lost around the teeth and they may start to become loose.
The single most important thing you can do to reverse early gum disease, and to slow down progression of periodontal disease, is thorough cleaning. That includes:
- Brushing at least twice daily, for two minutes, using an electric toothbrush.
- Using interdental cleaning aids daily – interdental brushes, floss, and water flosses are all options available.
- Supplementary mouthwashes with active ingredients to minimise bacteria in the mouth.
- Professional cleaning to help remove calculus (tartar) to make cleaning easier at home.
A good cleaning technique, on a daily basis, wil help lessen the amount of gum disease causing bacteria in the mouth. And most of this benefit comes from the physical action of brushing and/or flossing etc.
Are there toothpastes that strengthen gums?
The short answer is yes! There are definitely some toothpastes that will help your gums.
It is worth noting that the key to getting rid of gum disease, especially in the early stages, is good cleaning techniques at home.
And the main role of toothpaste is prevention of cavities due to the fluoride in it.
But some toothpastes contain specific ingredients to help with gum disease.
Ingredients added to toothpaste can help managing gum disease in the following ways:
- Disclosing agents that dye plaque. This makes plaque easier to see and therefore easier to remove. Traditionally this is done using separate disclosing tablets, but now this can also be found in some toothpastes. As managing plaque to reduce bacteria is one of the key aspects of managing disease, it can be helpful to have this included in a toothpaste.
- Antibacterial agents that help to kill bacteria, preventing plaque formation and thus reducing the total number of bacteria in the mouth. This includes
- Regeneration of the gums and decreasing swelling. Hyaluronic acid is a newer ingredient, beneficial because of its anti-inflammatory effects. This means that it can reduce the swelling in the gums caused by your body’s reaction to the gum-disease causing bacteria. HA is also antibacterial in itself, helping to reduce the number of bacteria in the gums.
- Prevention of calculus (tartar) formation.
Best gentle toothpaste for sore gums
If you have sore gums, you may find that some toothpastes cause a burning sensation, or even ulcers. If that is the case, you may want to try an unflavoured or SLS-free toothpaste from the list above.
You may also want a toothpaste for receding gums, which may be sore. Receding gums can also cause tooth sensitivity, so you may be interested in combining a toothpaste for gingivitis and sensitivity, or having a look at our best sensitivity toothpastes.
If you can clean thoroughly with your toothbrush, interdental cleaners, and one of these toothpastes, you should notice a difference in any bleeding or soreness in as little as a week!
My recommended toothpastes for sore gums are:
- Cleure Toothpaste (view on Amazon) – for a gentle daily use toothpaste which won’t cause further irritation to the gums.
- AloeSense (view on Amazon) – not specifically formulated for gums, but this does contain Aloe vera and Allantoin which will help soothe sore gums. It also has the ADA Seal of Acceptance due to the fluoride content.
- Gengigel (view on Amazon) – for a healing paste that will not cause irritation and will even actively help sore gums to get better. Although this is not a toothpaste, it can be used where there are sore areas to help healing.
Best whitening toothpastes if you have gum disease
Just because you have gum disease, it doesn’t mean that you need to put up with stains on your teeth. Whitening toothpastes won’t lighten the overall colour of your teeth, but will help remove dark coloured stains from the surface.
My top recommendations for toothpastes for gum disease which are also whitening are:
- Crest Gum Detoxify + Whitening (view on Amazon) – which contains Stannous Fluoride for protection against cavities and sensitivity, as well as it’s anti-plaque effect for helping to improve gingivitis. This toothpaste has also been awarded the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
- Sensodyne Sensitivity & Gum Whitening (view on Amazon) – which is a triple whammy as it also protects against cavities, sensitivity and gum disease due to the presence of Stannous Fluoride.
Best fluoride free toothpastes for gum disease
Whilst I don’t recommend fluoride free toothpaste, as you miss out on the known anti-cavity properties of fluoride, I respect that some people may still wish to avoid toothpastes containing fluoride.
In which case, there are two main options available to you:
- A fluoride free toothpaste that contains no fluoride and no major source of remineralizing agent, but still contains ingredients to help the gums. Whilst ingredients like xylitol have a small anti-cavity effect, it would not be enough to be remineralizing in the same way as fluoride.
- A fluoride free toothpaste that contains no fluoride and which does contain an alternative remineralizing agent. Calcium phosphates (such as hydroxyapatite) help reharden the tooth surface in a similar way to fluoride. These ingredients are newer than fluoride and are still undergoing long term studies, but have been FDA approved. They are normally more expensive than fluoride, but there is lots of evidence supporting their effectiveness.
I recommend Biorepair® Gum Protection for a fluoride free toothpaste — which contains hydroxyapatite — and actually made it to the top 5 list above.
Best natural herbal toothpaste for gum disease
Natural and herbal toothpastes make the most of naturally derived ingredients. However they are not necessarily organic, and may still contain some synthetic ingredients. My two recommendations are:
- The Natural Dentist Healthy Teeth & Gums Fluoride Free Toothpaste (view on Amazon) – this makes the most of Peppermint Oil, Sage Oil and Aloe Vera to help soothe the gums. However, it does not contain and ADA recommended fluoride, so I would advise using this in addition to a fluoride containing toothpaste (and you can find fluoride containing natural toothpastes here).
- Jason Healthy Mouth® Tartar Control Anti-Cavity Toothpaste (view on Amazon) – contains extracts from a number of plants including Aloe, cinnamon and Tea Tree, to help soothe gum suffering from gingivitis. It also contains fluoride for protection against cavities.
What about Parodontax?
Parodontax is one of the most widely known toothpastes for gum disease. It is widely marketed across the USA as being a good toothpaste for gingivitis.
We have already discussed how toothpastes can help with gum disease, so what makes Parodontax special?
Well, the active ingredient in Parodontax is Stannous Fluoride. We know this prevents decay, but also helps reverse gum disease due to its antibacterial nature (therefore decreasing the plaque levels in the mouth). Stannous fluoride is also anti-inflammatory, potentially reducing the swelling caused by gingivitis.
It does not contain a different concentration of this active ingredient compared to any of the others mentioned about.
So is Parodontax good for gums? Yes.
Is Parodontax better for gums than any other stannous fluoride toothpaste? Not necessarily.
How does Parodontax compare to Sensodyne toothpastes? Well Parodontax and Sensodyne are both made by the same company (GSK) and both contain the same active ingredient – stannous fluoride. Ultimately, there is not much difference between one or the other when it comes to gum health. But Sensodyne do have a wider range of flavours and other benefits also available.
There is a little markup in the price of Parodontax — typically it costs $5.50-6 per 3.4oz tube, view it here on Amazon — because it is seen as a specialist product. But if you wanted a stannous fluoride toothpaste for your gums, you could go for a more affordable option like Colgate Total SF (typically $4-4.50 per 5.1oz tube), or for additional benefits but a similar price go for Sensodyne Complete protection (typically $5.50-6 per 3.4oz tube — view it here on Amazon).
Ultimately, the choice is yours, but if you have any comments please post below!
About the ingredients found in toothpastes for gingivitis
In the sections below I have included some information about the ingredients that are sometimes included with toothpastes for gum disease.
For a more complete index of what’s included in toothpaste, see our A – Z of toothpaste ingredients.
Chlorhexidine is an antimicrobial, meaning that it kills bacteria and fungi in the mouth. The benefit of chlorhexidine is that it is able to stick to the mouth surface and so have a prolonged effect.
Its ability to prevent plaque formation after toothbrushing is magnified when it is combined with fluoride, which can be found in toothpastes.
In the U.S.A there aren’t any toothpastes available in the stores with chlorhexidine in, but you can use a mouthwash instead, or get something on a prescription.
Lacalut Aktiv toothpaste, available on Amazon, is the only toothpaste currently available (at the time of writing) on Amazon.com to contain this active ingredient.
There are many studies into the use of herbal ingredients, which have been used for centuries in some cultures. That said, the scientific evidence is limited as to whether these are more effective than other ingredients that could be added.
It does appear that the inclusion of natural herbal ingredients is more effective in managing gum disease than a toothpaste that contains no specific ingredient (e.g. chlorhexidine, triclosan, stannous fluoride etc). In particular, herbal toothpastes seem to help in reducing plaque in the first few weeks of use, after which the effect is not as great.
Hyaluronic acid, or hyaluronan as it is also called, occurs naturally in the body, and is found in many different tissues. You may have seen it in many different cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, from lip fillers to treatment of osteoarthritis.
Evidence has shown hyaluronic acid to be anti-inflammatory, anti-oedematous, and anti-bacterial. Experiments on HA toothpastes show reduction in bleeding gums. In fact, analysis of the data confirms “0.2% Hyaluronan containing gel has a beneficial effect in the treatment of plaque induced gingivitis”.
Peptides can include two different types of ingredients:
- enzymes and proteins normally found in saliva, and which naturally reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth. Adding peptides to toothpaste causes a reaction which ultimately kills bacteria found in saliva and plaque.
- Peptides which help stimulate the body’s natural regeneration mechanisms to aid “regrowth” of the gums.
Examples of enzymes found in toothpastes include: amyloglucosidase, glucose oxidase and lactoperoxidase.
Examples of proteins found in the toothpastes include: lysozyme, lactoferrin and colostrum.
Sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, can be added to toothpaste and has been shown to have antimicrobial effects at high doses.
Stannous fluoride has an anticavity effect because of the fluoride element. But, unlike other forms of fluoride in toothpaste, it can also have a significant positive effect on the gums. Studies have shown that the stannous fluoride:
- Kills bacteria in plaque. Therefore prevents build up of plaque and irritation and bleeding gums caused by plaque.
- Is anti-inflammatory, reducing irritation to gums from plaque.
Addition of triclosan to a fluoride toothpaste causes reduction in plaque and gum disease. Unfortunately, due to potential safety concerns, there are currently no toothpastes with triclosan available on the US market.
Zinc is able to prevent plaque hardening into calculus. By preventing calculus build up, gums are easier to clean. Overall this means less bacteria buildup and therefore the gums are less likely to be affected by bacteria induced gingivitis.
On top of this, zinc itself is antibacterial so can also kill the bacteria leading to gum disease.
Zinc can be found in toothpastes as:
- Zinc + arginine – e.g. Colgate Total SF.
- Zinc gluconate – e.g. TheraBreath PerioTherapy.
- Zinc PCA – e.g. BioRepair toothpastes.
Is it possible to use a whitening toothpaste if you have gingivitis / which one is best?
Yes, it is possible to use a whitening toothpaste if you have gum disease.
Whitening toothpastes remove stains from the teeth, and are often more abrasive than a regular toothpaste. It doesn’t actually whiten the overall colour of the teeth, as explained by Dr Chuahan in our article on the best whitening toothpastes.
But I should point out that this additional abrasiveness may cause further irritation to gums which are already sore and so you may want to avoid them.
Is there a difference between gingivitis and periodontitis?
Gingivitis is early gum disease and affects only the gums. You would notice it as swollen and/or bleeding gums. Periodontitis is more advanced gum disease with loss of bone around the tooth and often there is also receding gums.
What sort of toothpastes should I use with early gum disease (mild gingivitis)?
A basic toothpaste containing stannous fluoride, sodium bicarbonate, or herbal ingredients can help alleviate the swelling and bleeding associated with early gum disease. The most important thing is how you clean though, so make sure you have the best techniques by following this advice.
What sort of toothpastes should I use with advanced gum disease (periodontitis)?
More advanced gum disease, which isn’t improving despite good cleaning efforts, may require extra ingredients to help the gums heal. You may want to try a toothpaste containing hyaluronic acid or peptides to help the gums heal.
What is the best toothpaste for receding gums?
Receding gums can lead to soreness in the gums and sensitivity from the tooth.
If the gums are sore when brushing try a gentle toothpaste (like those listed above), or perhaps try a non-mint toothpaste or SLS free toothpaste. Mouthwashes may also help if your gums are too sore to brush.
If you are suffering from tooth sensitivity because of receding gums, try a specific sensitivity toothpaste.
What is the best toothpaste for bleeding gums?
Bleeding gums are a sign of gum disease. The best toothpaste would be one designed for gingivitis, containing stannous fluoride, sodium bicarbonate or herbal ingredients.
Does stannous fluoride cause staining?
In some formulations, stannous fluoride can cause staining. In the correct formulation the staining effect is much less, if at all.
Other toothpastes for gum disease
In case none of the products from our lists above appeal to you, here are some additional gum disease toothpastes to consider.
When picking a toothpaste, I recommend considering the general advice on choosing a toothpaste from our toothpaste hub page.
|Name||Anti-cavity Protection||Why it helps||Cost||Also good for…|
|Plaque HD Anticavity Toothpaste||Fluoride||Disclosing||$$$||Non-mint available|
|Jason Healthy Mouth® Tartar Control Anti-Cavity Toothpaste – Tea Tree & Cinnamon||fluoride||Herbal||$$||Natural|
|Crest Gum Detoxify Deep Clean||fluoride||Stannous fluoride||$|
|Crest Gum Detoxify + Whitening||fluoride||Stannous fluoride||$||Whitening|
|Crest Pro-Health Advanced Gum Protection Toothpaste||fluoride||Stannous fluoride||$|
|Crest Gum and Breath Purify Healthy White toothpaste||fluoride||Stannous fluoride|
|Crest Baking Soda and Peroxide with Scope Whitening Toothpaste||fluoride||Sodium bicarbonate||$$||Whitening|
|Crest Baking Soda & Peroxide Whitening with Tartar Protection Toothpaste||fluoride||Sodium bicarbonate||$$||Whitening|
|Crest Gum and Sensitivity||fluoride||Stannous fluoride||$$||Sensitivity|
|Crest Gum and Sensitivity Gentle Whitening||fluoride||Stannous fluoride||$$||Sensitivity|
|Sensodyne Sensitivity & Gum||fluoride||Stannous fluoride||$$||Sensitivity|
|Sensodyne Sensitivity & Gum Whitening||fluoride||Stannous fluoride||$$||Sensitivity|
|Parodontax Complete Protection||fluoride||Stannous fluoride||$$|
|Parodontax Complete Protection plus Whitening||fluoride||Stannous fluoride||$$||Whitening|
|OraltidePRO™Intensive Repair Gel||Calcium phosphates||Peptides||$$$||Sensitivity|
|Colgate TotalSF Deep Clean toothpaste||fluoride||Stannous Fluoride|
|Colgate TotalSF Advanced Whitening Toothpaste||fluoride||Stannous Fluoride|
|Colgate Baking Soda and Peroxide Whitening Toothpaste||fluoride||Sodium bicarbonate||$||Whitening|
|Ultrabrite® Baking Soda & Peroxide Whitening||fluoride||Sodium bicarbonate||$||Whitening|
|Tom’s of Maine Antiplaque & Whitening Toothpaste||none||zinc||$||Natural|
|Arm & Hammer Peroxi-Care Fluoride Anti-Cavity Toothpaste||fluoride||Sodium bicarbonate||$||Whitening|
|The Natural Dentist Healthy Teeth & Gums Whitening Plus Toothpaste||fluoride||herbal||$$||Natural|
|The Natural Dentist Healthy Teeth & Gums Fluoride Free Toothpaste||none||herbal||$$||Natural|
|TheraBreath PerioTherapy toothpaste||fluoride||Zinc||$$$||Bad Breath|
|Hyalogic Dr. John’s Toothpaste Gel with Hyaluronic Acid||none||Hyaluronic Acid||$$||Vegan|
|Hylodent Gum Serum||none||Hyaluronic Acid||$$$||Organic|
|Hylodent Toothpaste||none||Hyaluronic Acid||$$$||Organic|
|Biorepair® Parodontgel||hydroxyapetite||Hyaluronic AcidZinc||$$$||Sensitivity|
|Biorepair® Gum Protection||hydroxyapetite||Hyaluronic AcidZinc||$$$||Sensitivity|