Image: Toothpaste on toothbrushes
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What does it mean to have a 'natural' toothpaste? And do you really need flouride?
updated 6/10/2012 12:35:07 PM ET 2012-06-10T16:35:07

Drugstore aisles are now jammed with so many choices, it's enough to make your teeth ache. Here, what's hype and what's not.

The Claim: "Foaming action"
The Verdict: The paste transforms to foam in your mouth in order to penetrate hard-to-reach places. But foaming action is strictly a matter of personal preference—you don't get a "skip flossing" pass.

The Claim: "Fluoride free"
The Verdict: In these, aloe and peppermint oil replace fluoride, in response to fears of cosmetic damage to enamel from too-high doses of fluoride. But only children who swallow paste are at any risk. For the rest of us, fluoride is an essential cavity fighter.

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The Claim: "Natural"
The Verdict: You won't find artificial colors, flavors, or fragrances in these, but the jury is still out as to whether their tooth decay- and plaque-fighting ingredients, such as xylitol (a natural cavity-fighting sweetener) and cranberry extract, work as well as traditional formulas. If you go natural, pick one that at least contains fluoride.

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The claim: "12-hour germ fighting"
The Verdict: While all fluoride toothpastes kill bacteria, these use a stronger antibacterial agent (triclosan) formulated to fight germs up to 12 hours after brushing. Research has shown that triclosan is safe to use, but the FDA is examining it to determine whether it contributes to antibiotic resistance.

More Links:
Your guide to a beautiful smile
10 Ways To Look Younger On A Budget
10 surprising habits that make your teeth beautiful


Copyright© 2012 Rodale Inc.All rights reserved. No reproduction, transmission or display is permitted without the written permissions of Rodale Inc.

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