Of all the toothpastes on the market today, it is difficult to determine which is the best. It all depends on how you define "best". Do you want the best whitening toothpaste? or the best flouride toothpaste? or the best sensitive toothpaste, the best toothpaste for gum disease, etc?

Lets look at some of the basic criteria and ingredients to determine the best toothpaste.

1. Water  – All toothpastes contain between 20 and 40% water.

2. Flouride – Can come in different forms and is the most active ingredient in the prevention of cavities. There is pressure from certain groups in the US and the UK that says that flouride can cause discolourisation of the teeth and can in some case be harmful. However, there is a different school on both sides of the atlantic that says flouride should be added to the water supply so that everyone can benefit from its properties. Examples of flouride agents are sodium monofluorophosphate, Sodium fluoride,

3. Abrasives – Usually consitute up to 50% of a typical toothpaste. Powdered Calcium and Aluminium Hydroxide are 2 of the most common abrasives used. Obviously these ingredients allow for the removal of plaque through the brushing process. Again there is a school of thought to suggest the properties of a typical toothpaste can be replicated by brushing with baking soda.

4. Foaming Agents – Found in most toothpastes. Can also contain mild detergents to help the spread of the toothpaste around the teeth.

5. Antibacterial Agents – In some but not all toothpastes. It is there to try and reduce bad breath and help to keep away gingivitis

6. Flavourants – Obviously most if not all tooth paste manufacturers want theirs to taste pleasant so flavourants such as peppermint, spearmint, fruit flavours, bubblegum, etc are all added to make the product taste better. Some people use this as a yardstick in determinig the best toothpaste, ignoring what is really important.

7. Mineral Additives  – To help prevent the deteriation of enamel

8. Anti-drying Agents  – To help the toothpaste stay as a paste and not dry out into a powder.

9. Sodium Polyphosphate – A popular additive used to prevent or hold back tartar.

10. Sensitivity Additive – Obviously not in all toothpastes but are added in the sensitive ones.

If we look at the above ingredients we can try to determine which are essential in producing the best toothpaste for you.