Choosing a toothpaste can be overwhelming.
There are hundreds of options, all with their own buzzwords.
To keep things simple, I’ve recommended 3 excellent options below for the best overall toothpaste.
These are all readily available within Canada and will do a good job.
I’ve also included advice below on how to choose a toothpaste if you want to pick one that isn’t on our lists.
3 dentist-recommended toothpastes for everyday use
If you just want a good overall toothpaste, I’ve recommended 3 options below.
If there’s a particular type of toothpaste you’re interested in, such as the best natural toothpaste or the best for sensitive teeth, see our more specific posts here.
This is the criteria I have used to select the choices below:
- Contains fluoride.
- May not necessarily be advertised to help with bleeding gums or sensitivity, but if it can do this for the same price as a regular toothpaste, it may well be included!
- If it is a whitening toothpaste, I have deliberately included only those with a low RDA value to minimise potential damage
- Where cost allows, I have opted for the more environmentally conscious toothpastes.
Whenever you’re shopping for a toothpaste, I would recommend factoring the above points into your decision.
Crest Gum & Enamel Repair Toothpaste
I have picked Crest Gum Care and Enamel Repair as one of the best toothpastes in Canada because:
- It contains multi-purpose stannous fluoride
- It is one of the few toothpastes with an active ingredient for gum disease
- It also contains ingredients to help reduce staining.
But in brief, the toothpaste helps to reduce the amount of gum-disease causing bacteria.
The stannous fluoride also helps manage sensitivity, so this toothpaste is a good toothpaste if you have gum disease and sensitivity too.
And 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, as explained here, but will help remove dark coloured stains from the surface.
- Sodium hexametaphosphate helps to reduce staining
- Stannous fluoride protects against cavIties
- Stannous fluoride will also help reduce sensitivity
- Zinc citrate prevents calculus build up
- Widely available in supermarkets and pharmacies
- SLS can be a problem for some people
Tom’s of Maine Whole Care Natural Fluoride Toothpaste
Tom’s of Maine toothpastes are easily available, affordable, and generally have a smaller list of ingredients.
Whole Care toothpaste is no exception to this, and it provides benefits to your gums as well because it has key ingredients to help prevent tartar or calculus build up, which can be linked to gum disease, and also contains fluoride.
What also makes Tom’s of Maine special is that they use a Stewardship Model for their ingredients, balancing their ingredients with naturally sourced and natural derived so that they are as sustainable and responsible as possible. They work to be as accountable as possible, giving good explanations of their ingredients in an easy to find place.
On top of that, a proportion of profits are donated to charity, and employees have working hours dedicated for volunteering. What you end up with is an affordable, widely available natural toothpaste that is an alternative to the traditional brands.
Other toothpastes which you could also try, but which might not necessarily prevent tartar build up, include:
- Cavity Protection Natural Fluoride Toothpaste
- Wicked Fresh! Natural Toothpaste
- Clean & Fresh Natural Toothpaste
- Contains fluoride
- Naturally derived ingredients
- No artificial flavours, colours, or preservatives
- No animal derived ingredients
- No animal testing
- Widely available in supermarkets and pharmacies
- SLS can be a problem for some people
Colgate Zero Toothpaste
I have included the Colgate Zero range as one of the top toothpastes in Canada because it is a more natural offering from a popular brand.
This toothpaste is the newest offering from Colgate, and aims to please the health conscious market, being minimalist on ingredients, whilst still containing important fluoride.
I have included this toothpaste due to its availability on the market, and it being a popular and well known brand across Canada. Actually, it seems to be one of the only toothpastes marketed as “natural” from the most common toothpaste manufacturers (Crest, Sensodyne, Colgate). You may be more tempted to go for this toothpaste because you are familiar with the branding, and there is no problem with that.
Colgate are making a move towards environmentally friendly packaging by making the tube recyclable, but unfortunately there is still some single use plastic in the tube
What is toothpaste for?
Toothpaste isn’t just there to freshen your breath, it actively helps to clean your teeth.
The primary role of toothpaste is to act as an abrasive by removing plaque around teeth and the gum line.
The secondary function of most high street toothpastes is the protection of teeth by the addition of fluoride, which I cover in more detail below.
And whilst it’s important to choose a good toothpaste and use it properly, it’s worth noting that toothpaste alone plays a small role in your oral health care.
Equally as important are using the correct brushing technique, and flossing properly.
How to choose a toothpaste specific to your needs — 7 points to consider
With the hundreds of toothpaste options available, how can you pick the best toothpaste? You may be tempted to stick with the same toothpaste brand, but you could try to pick the best toothpaste for you.
The best toothpaste can be very personal, and there are a number of things to consider. I would take it on a step by step basis, thinking about the following questions:
1. Is there fluoride in the toothpaste?
- There are three types of fluoride approved for use in toothpastes in Canada.
- Toothpastes containing fluoride are actually considered to be over-the-counter drugs or medicines.
- Fluoride is the single most important ingredient for protecting the teeth from cavities.
- Fluoride free toothpastes are available, but do not receive the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) Seal.
- If you have a high risk of tooth decay, your dentist may do you a prescription for a special high fluoride toothpaste.
2. Are there specific ingredients you want to avoid?
- This could be for medical reasons, such as an allergy or sensitivity.
- This could be for a number of reasons, such as wanting to avoid ingredients that are harsh on the environment. For example, opting for an SLS free toothpaste.
- If there’s a particular ingredient you want to know about, see our guide to toothpaste ingredients
3. Do you have any specific problems that you need help with?
- Toothpaste can have ingredients added that can help protect your teeth against more than just cavities.
- Gum disease can be improved with specific toothpastes (in addition to following the cleaning regime recommended by your dentist or hygienist).
- If you suffer from tooth sensitivity, you may want to choose a toothpaste containing ingredients to help reduce the discomfort you feel.
- If you have a dry mouth, you may want to avoid ingredients that make this worse, or choose a toothpaste that can help you.
- Some people suffer from tartar build up, and despite good cleaning at home and regular professional cleans, they still get a build up. Some ingredients can help protect against this.
4. Do you want a whitening toothpaste?
- Whilst toothpastes are unlikely to be whitening in themselves, they have an important role in removing and preventing staining of teeth, making them appear whiter.
- Baking soda is a common ingredient used to help remove stains, and there are specific baking soda toothpastes available.
- Smokers suffer from staining and they may benefit from whitening toothpaste.
- Charcoal toothpastes are branded to help whiten your teeth, and there are more and more products available with charcoal as an ingredient. However, there is a lack of evidence around the effectiveness of charcoal and you need to be careful when using it as it can be more abrasive.
5. What flavour do you want?
- The most common flavour for toothpaste is mint.
- There are alternative non mint flavour toothpastes available, such as unflavoured natural toothpastes or even bubble gum flavoured toothpaste.
- Non-mint toothpastes differ in their taste, but aren’t only for kids!
6. Consider the environment
- Toothpastes come with chemicals, some of which can be avoided by option for a natural toothpaste.
- As an over-the-counter drug, toothpastes will require testing before going to market. You can choose vegan toothpastes and avoid products tested on animals.
- Plastic free alternatives to toothpaste are available to reduce your impact on the environment.
- You can choose toothpastes with sustainable packaging, and recycle packaging through schemes such as Terracycle.
7. Be aware about tooth wear
- Toothpastes contain abrasives to help with their cleaning action.
- Abrasives can cause damage to the tooth surface, removing the enamel layer over time.
- Toothpaste RDA values should be below 250 to be considered safe for lifetime use.
Do your own research
What I wish to emphasise is the need for you to do your own research. What is the most effective toothpaste for one person may not necessarily be the most effective toothpaste for another.
1. Look at our basic guidelines for choosing a toothpaste
2. If you are interested in a speciality toothpaste, see one of our subtopics below
3. If there’s a particular ingredient you want to know about, see our guide to toothpaste ingredients
4. If there’s a particular product you’re interested in, see if we’ve reviewed it
5. Once you’ve chosen a product, make sure you use it regularly and properly. See our guide here on how to brush your teeth.
With some toothpaste ingredients, their level of safety or harmfulness is disputed among the public, scientists, and medical professionals. Often there is no definitive right or wrong answer.
There are often changes in regulations and ingredients too, and whilst we have taken the time to check before releasing any information, these can and do change.
It is not our position at Electric Teeth to comment on the safety of ingredients – but where necessary we can and will present the different arguments from evidence based sources, and to draw your attention to existing discussions and evidence, so that you can make your own decision on which ingredients you are happy to use.
Shopping for a specific type of toothpaste
If you’re shopping for a more specialised toothpaste, you may find some of our other toothpaste posts useful.
- Best toothpaste for sensitive teeth
- Best natural toothpaste
- Best toothpaste for gum disease
- Best SLS-Free toothpaste
- Best non-mint toothpaste
- Best whitening toothpaste
- Best charcoal toothpaste
- Best eco-friendly toothpaste
- Best toothpaste tablets
- Non-fluoride toothpaste
Also visit our toothpaste hub page to see all of our content listed in an easy-to-find format.
What about fluoride free?
As a dentist I am familiar with the arguments for and against fluoride. But I work with evidence.
At present the overwhelming evidence supports the use of fluoride in toothpaste, and in particular I would like to draw your attention to the following pages to help inform you about fluoride:
- Canadian Dental Association’s Fluoride FAQs and Position on Use of Fluorides in Caries Prevention.
- Government of Canada information on Fluoride and Oral Health
- The Cochrane Library systematic review Fluoride toothpastes of different concentrations for preventing dental caries
- The European Commision Critical review of any new evidence on the hazard profile, health effects, and human exposure to fluoride and the fluoridating agents of drinking water
- Public Health England’s Delivering Better Oral Health Toolkit
- New Zealand’s Ministry of Health: Guidelines for the use of fluorides
- Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network: Dental interventions to prevent caries in children
Because of this I am unable to recommend any product that does not contain fluoride as the best overall toothpaste. However, there are developments in the use of calcium phosphates for re-mineralisation, and you can find out more about this in our article about toothpaste ingredients. In some cases, fluoride free toothpastes may contain calcium phosphates which can provide some protection.
I respect that some people will choose a toothpaste without fluoride, and for those people, you can find out which toothpastes are fluoride free in our post on fluoride vs fluoride free toothpaste.