Key things to know
- A generic fluoride containing toothpaste is normally the best toothpaste for braces.
- If you are at higher risk of tooth decay, opt for something with additional remineralising effects.
- Some people are more prone to staining, in which case a stain removal (sometimes called whitening) toothpaste may be of benefit.
- You only need to consider a specific toothpaste if you are suffering from gum disease or tooth sensitivity.
Best overall toothpaste for braces
Oral B Pro-Expert
This toothpaste contains stannous fluoride – known for its protection against tooth decay, whilst also helping with tooth sensitivity and gum disease. This paste is not specifically whitening but the ingredients do help prevent staining build up on the teeth.
Best if you’re prone to tooth decay
VITIS Anti-Caries Toothpaste
This Vitis toothpaste has three ingredients which can help prevent tooth decay and aid remineralisation of the tooth surface. This could be worth the investment if you are more prone to dental cavities (also known as caries) or have a high sugar or acid diet. It contains sodium monofluorophosphate, 10% xylitol, and hydroxyapatite nanoparticles 0.45%.
Best for whitening
Arm & Hammer Total Pro
Where to buy: Online pound store
For a toothpaste which specifically helps to remove stains, consider Arm & Hammer Total Pro. It contains bicarbonate of soda, which is a gentle abrasive that will help to remove any stain build ups on your teeth whilst wearing braces.
Best for sensitivity
Sensodyne Daily Care
Two ingredients known to alleviate tooth sensitivity are stannous fluoride and potassium nitrate. If your regular toothpaste isn’t providing enough relief, I recommend trying Sensodyne paste, which contains potassium nitrate as its active ingredient.
You need to brush your teeth more regularly when you wear braces
As someone with braces, it is important to carefully clean your teeth several times a day. Whilst twice a day is the standard recommendation, more frequent cleaning will be required.
This is because the braces are able to trap more plaque than if you were not wearing them. Research has shown that simply having braces increases both the number and type of disease causing bacteria, especially in the initial stages.
Wearing braces increases the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
A simple fluoride toothpaste is enough for most brace wearers
Unless your orthodontist has directed you to use a specific product, all you need is a toothpaste that contains fluoride
It is not necessary to use a whitening toothpaste if you have braces. For most people, a non-whitening toothpaste for braces is good enough.
Specialist gum disease and sensitivity toothpastes are only necessary if you are suffering from either of these problems.
You don’t need a specific orthodontic toothpaste (unless your dentist has told you to get one)
There are a number of so-called “orthodontic toothpastes” available. These are marketed as being specifically for people who wear braces.
The examples I found, and their key ingredients are:
- GUM Ortho toothpaste – 1500ppm fluoride + CPC
- VITIS Orthodontic Toothpaste – 1450ppm fluoride + CPC
- Ortho Kin Toothpaste – 1450ppm fluoride + CPC
- Wisdom Ortho Clean Fluoride Toothpaste – 1450ppm fluoride
CPC (Cetylpyridinium Chloride) is an antimicrobial ingredient. This means it kills bacteria and fungi. There is some evidence that this helps prevent plaque formation. This could be useful if you struggle to clean your teeth well enough.
But do you need an orthodontic toothpaste? No.
If your physical cleaning technique is good, a regular fluoride containing toothpaste is all you need.
You do not need to spend extra money on specific toothpastes, unless your dentist or orthodontist has advised you of this.
Using a fluoride toothpaste will stop white spots from developing on your teeth
As braces increase your risk of tooth cavities, you want to do as much as you can to protect them. Having fluoride is pretty much non-negotiable.
Failing to protect your teeth against acids and tooth decay can result in white spot lesions. These marks are very early tooth decay, caused by long term poor cleaning and sugary attacks. They are visible when the brackets are removed. Whilst they might not develop holes that need fillings the marks can only be removed with specialised treatments.
Fluoride has been shown to be the best way to prevent such marks developing. It is the key ingredient in most toothpastes and has a large amount of evidence supporting it. It is the most well known ingredient to prevent tooth decay.
For the majority of people looking for a good toothpaste when they have braces, aim for a fluoride content of 1450ppm. Simply use this each time when brushing your teeth.
You can find a list of additional recommendations on our best toothpaste page. You can also get prescription toothpastes with a higher strength of fluoride in them, available from your dentist.
If you are at high risk of tooth decay, a remineralisation toothpaste might help
If you are at a particularly high risk of tooth decay, consider using a remineralising toothpaste in addition to one that contains fluoride, not as a replacement. You can find out more about tooth decay risk on this page.
Some other ingredients are now being marketed to reduce the risk of tooth decay. These ingredients include xylitol, nano-hydroxyapatite, and ACP-CPP. These can be used alone in a toothpaste, or combined with fluoride (fewer options of these are available).
There is also the option to use a regular fluoride toothpaste twice daily. And then use a separate paste which has remineralising properties, at a different time of day.
There are varying levels of evidence supporting alternative remineralising ingredients:
- Fluoride with CPP-ACP is beneficial for early decay on some tooth surfaces (biting, or occlusal, surfaces), but not others (study).
- CPP-ACP is also an effective treatment for white spots on the teeth after braces are removed (study).
- Fluoride toothpastes with higher doses of xylitol (10%) can reduce caries compared to fluoride only toothpastes, when used over a 3 year period (study).
- There is evidence that pastes with HAP alone decreases tooth decay (study), but no good studies on combined HAP and fluoride toothpastes.
Examples of toothpastes with additional remineralisation agents are:
- Apacare Remineralizing Toothpaste + Nano-hydroxyapetite
- Biomin F – Fluoride + Fluoro CalciumPhosphoSilicate
- Dr Jen Super Paste – Fluoride + Nano-hydroxyapetite
- Epic Dental Xylitol Toothpaste – Fluoride + xylitol
- Spry – Fluoride + xylitol
- Squigle – Fluoride + xylitol
- VITIS Anti-Caries Toothpaste – Fluoride + Nano-hydroxyapetite + Xylitol
If you are prone to staining, a stain removal paste may help
Staining is common, especially around the glue used to keep brackets on for traditional braces, and on the buttons used for removable braces like Invisalign. The edge of the white filling material (composite) picks up stains from food and drink.
Ingredients are added to toothpastes to help prevent and remove staining. Such ingredients include:
- Bicarbonate soda
- Hydrated aluminium oxides
- Magnesium/calcium carbonate
- Pentasodium triphosphate
Specific stain removal toothpastes are not necessary for most people. Getting your cleaning routine right, including thorough cleaning around the brackets, is more important.
However, some people are more prone to staining because of what they eat and drink. Red wine, black tea and coffee, cola, and turmeric based foods all cause staining. Stain removal toothpaste, used in moderation, can help reduce the appearance of these stains.
Avoid whitening products that contain peroxide
We do not recommend bleaching your teeth whilst you have braces on. Likewise, avoid whitening toothpastes that contain bleaching products (peroxides).
If you were to use these when wearing a brace, the whitening paste is only going to come into contact with the part of the tooth that is not hidden by the brackets.
What this means is that if the whitening paste works, when the brace comes off, you can be left with marks/stains where the bracket has been bonded to the tooth and it will then be necessary to find ways to restore an even colour to the teeth.
Note that in the UK, it is illegal to sell whitening toothpastes with bleaching ingredients in them over the counter. Any paste marketed as whitening in the UK is simply only stain removal.
It’s worth trying a specialist toothpaste if you have sensitivity
Having orthodontic treatment means a lot of tooth movement. This can cause generalised tooth sensitivity.
With Invisalign and other removable appliance treatments you are also likely to have teeth shaved down, known as interproximal reduction. This can cause dentine hypersensitivity.
One option is to see if a sensitive toothpaste will reduce the discomfort.
Ingredients used in toothpaste to manage sensitivity include: Arginine, Bioactive glasses – calcium and phosphate ions, potassium nitrate, stannous fluoride, strontium chloride. The difference between these ingredients and the options available are explained fully in our guide on the best sensitive toothpastes.
Toothpaste is an important consideration if you have gum disease
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 normally much more important than what toothpaste you use.
These toothpastes help manage gum disease by acting as a chemical plaque control in addition to the mechanical plaque control. In fact, it has been found that having the right toothpaste can actually improve your gum disease:
- Toothpastes with antimicrobials improve gum disease more than just mechanical cleaning alone (as explained by Teles & Teles).
- Toothpaste spreads 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.
Specific ingredients for helping fight gum disease include: antimicrobials (chlorhexidine, triclosan, peptides, sodium bicarbonate, herbal ingredients including essential oils); regeneration ingredient Hyaluronic acid; zinc to prevent calculus (tartar) formation.
I have written a whole guide on the best toothpaste for gingivitis & gum disease which includes more products recommendations and explanations about ingredients.