Help! I Need to Choose a Toothpaste!

Fluoride and flavors and flip-caps oh my! If you’re staring down the selection of toothpastes and wishing there was a Yellow Brick Road leading to the perfect one, you’re not alone. Luckily, your friends at Falmouth Dental Arts are here to help!

First and foremost, as you’re examining the tube of toothpaste, keep your eye out for two key details: the ADA seal of approval and fluoride content. The American Dental Association tests the safety and effectiveness of toothpastes on the market, and gives its seal to those pastes which pass the test with flying colors. Varieties without the ADA seal either have not been tested, or have not passed the ADA tests. Either way, choosing a product without the seal is a gamble for your teeth. Take the safe bet, and look for the ADA seal. 

Most toothpastes contain fluoride, a chemical compound with a variety of uses. In the dental realm, fluoride protects your teeth from decay by reinforcing your enamel. Fluoride has been used as an active ingredient in toothpaste for over a century, and has been introduced into a majority of city water supplies to improve oral health in the community. In recent years, fluoride has become a bit of a hot topic because it is toxic when ingested in large doses. Additionally, high levels of fluoride can lead to fluorosis: a discoloring of the teeth. However, because over-the-counter pastes contain such trace amounts of fluoride that fluorosis and toxicity are not of concern, Falmouth Dental Arts recommends fluoridated toothpastes. 

Dr. Karagiorgos states that “adding fluoride to our water supply has been statistically significant to help to improve oral health in at-risk communities. However, at Falmouth Dental Arts, we believe in a patient’s freedom to choose what goes into their bodies, and whether fluoride is right for them as an individual.”

“Proper oral health maintenance including brushing with any sort of paste, is the best method of reducing the risk of dental decay. Fluoride is not a nutrient, and our bodies have no need for it metabolically. It is very good at doing is killing the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Using it appropriately, in small topical doses such as those found in ADA approved toothpastes and mouthwashes can help to prevent decay, and also to reverse small amounts of acid damage. Acid damage can occur from cavity causing bacteria, acid erosion from reflux or consuming acidic foods.”

Beyond the ADA seal and fluoride content, your selection of toothpaste is entirely up to you! As you narrow down your choice, here are a few additional factors to consider: 

1.  Sensitivity: most toothpaste brands have a line specifically designed to address tooth and gum sensitivity. Some brands are entirely devoted to helping soothe sensitive teeth. Either way, most over-the-counter sensitivity pastes deliver on their promises to pacify any pain. If your sensitive teeth aren’t responding to an OTC sensitive-specific paste, talk to Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos about prescription strength options. 

2. Whitening: Who doesn’t want a brighter, whiter smile? Many toothpastes claiming to possess whitening powers typically do address basic surface stains. However, the different ingredients in whitening toothpastes can cause dental sensitivity over time. Additionally, any sort of abrasive ingredient advertised to whiten your teeth (such as activated charcoal, natural exfoliants, or microbeads) can erode your tooth enamel. Avoid abrasive materials in your toothpaste, and always keep smart brushing techniques in mind. If you’re looking for more intensive whitening, talk to Dr. Brunacini about in-office and at-home options at your next appointment!

3. Options for Kids: For brand new brushers, look for a training toothpaste which does not contain fluoride. When your child understands that toothpaste should be spit out and not swallowed, you can make the switch to a fluoride paste. Fun toothpaste flavors can be helpful if you’re trying  to make brushing fun–which goes for children and adults alike!

At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do for your teeth is to brush them properly twice a day! What you use to brush helps or hurts your effectiveness as a brusher, so you do want to choose your tools and pastes with care. Look for a toothpaste stamped with the American Dental Association’s seal of approval. Feel free to choose a toothpaste with a fun flavor and ingredients to address sensitivity or whitening concerns–just avoid any ingredients that might erode your tooth enamel. 

If you have questions about proper brushing techniques, or want to have Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos put their stamp of approval on your toothpaste–just ask them at your next dental exam and cleaning! If you have any questions, or to schedule your appointment, please call our office at 207.781.5900

Are Microbeads Embedded in Your Gums?

In recent years, there have been lots of conversations about plastics in our every day lives. Residents in South Portland, Portland, and Falmouth have voted to manage and reduce the amount of plastic distributed by introducing fees, or even banning some plastics altogether. Polyethylene is the most common plastic in the world, but it is a problem for the environment because it isn’t biodegradable and lasts forever. At best, it breaks down into smaller particles, but still exists.

Over the past few years, skincare and toothpaste brands have been adding small beads to their products, claiming they enhance the cleaning ability of the product when in reality, they are only for decorative purposes. While seemingly harmless, these beads are actually plastic—the same plastic found in your grocery bags, trash cans, and bottles. Since these plastics don’t break down, even in water, where do they go?

Around your teeth you have channels in your gums called a sulcus, the same place where gingivitis begins. A healthy sulcus is only about 3mm deep, but is a perfect place for these microbeads of plastic to get trapped. Since they are smaller than a millimeter, hundreds of pieces can get stuck in your sulcus each time you brush.

While there is little evidence that these microbeads directly cause gum problems, the sulcus is very vulnerable. Your dental hygienist spends most of their time cleaning this small space around every tooth in your mouth. And if your sulcus isn’t healthy, then your tooth, and potentially your whole mouth, isn’t healthy. So, we think it is better to be safe than sorry!

You can check the ingredients lists to see if microbeads are lurking in your toothpaste. Check for polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, or polymethyl methacrylate. Researchers have found the following products contain either microbeads or other microplastics. We encourage you to check your bathrooms to make sure these products aren’t hiding in there!


Toothpastes that Contain Microbeads:

  • Crest Pro-Health
  • Crest Pro-Health for Me
  • Crest Sensitivity
  • Crest Complete Multi Benefit
  • Crest Clinical Sensitivity Relief
  • Crest 3D White Luxe
  • Crest 3D White
  • CVS Brilliant White

Toothpastes that May Contain Other Microplastics:

  • Colgate Max Clean-Smart Foam
  • Colgate Max Clean
  • Elmex Anti-Cavity with Fluoride
  • Glo Science, Inc. Glo Whitening Antioxidant
  • Jason Naturals Sea Fresh Antiplaque and Strengthening
  • Jason Naturals Powersmile Anti-Cavity and Whitening
  • Tom’s of Maine Clean & Gentle Fluoride

While caution is due, do be aware that since the initial news broke on microbeads, manufacturers have been phasing microbeads out of their formulations. But if you’d like to learn more about how to counteract the presence of microbeads in your mouth – and the environment – check out and

Do you think you’ve got microbeads in your mouth? Schedule your next teeth cleaning today by calling us at 207.781.5900.