Choosing the Right Toothpaste, Toothbrush and Mouth Rinse

Mother and Daughter Brushing Teeth

Shopping in the oral health aisle can be overwhelming. How do you know which toothpaste, toothbrush or mouth rinse to purchase? Ask your dental office for suggestions and review these guidelines from WebMD.


  • ADA seal – Look for toothpaste labeled with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal, which means it has met specific criteria for safety and effectiveness. However, not every toothpaste manufacturer seeks ADA approval. It’s important to know that the ADA does not specifically evaluate or endorse toothpaste.
  • Fluoride – Toothpaste with fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel while fighting bacteria that can cause decay. Some toothpaste products contain high amounts of fluoride, which should be used only if recommended by a dental professional.
  • Flavor – Select a toothpaste flavor that appeals to your taste buds in either a gel or paste formula.

If you experience mouth pain with your current toothpaste brand, select a different product designed for sensitive teeth.

  • Bristles – Although toothbrushes are designed with bristles in different levels of firmness, most dentists recommend soft bristles to avoid damaging tooth enamel. Brush gently in circular motions for 2-3 minutes for best results.
  • Manual or electric – If used correctly, both toothbrush styles will effectively remove plaque and food particles from teeth. Your dentist may recommend one style over another.
  • Size – If using a manual brush, select one with a head that fits comfortably into your mouth and touches one or two teeth at a time.
  • Replace – Use a new manual toothbrush or electric toothbrush head every three months, or sooner if the bristles are worn. Also replace after having a cold or flu.

Mouth rinse

  • Choices – Designed to freshen breath, some rinses may contain fluoride to fight tooth decay. Others labeled as tartar or gingivitis control help kill oral bacteria that can cause gum disease.
  • Alcohol free – Avoid using rinses made with alcohol as they can cause a burning sensation, leave an aftertaste or dry oral tissues. Alcohol-based mouth rinses are harmful especially for children because they may be accidentally poisoned if the liquid is swallowed. Some rinses can contain more than 20 percent alcohol by volume, which is 40 proof.

Watch these videos to learn the best way to care for your family’s teeth and how often to visit the dentist.


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