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Toothpaste is a very important tool for removing bacterial plaque. If food particles and plaque aren’t removed, they can harden into tartar, which can lead directly to gum disease.

In the past, toothpaste was actually sold in a powder form. Today, most toothpaste brands are sold as either a gel or paste. Some also include fluoride, which helps strengthen tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay.

Some varieties might have a mild abrasive blended into the paste itself. This abrasive helps the bristles of your toothbrush remove plaque and food particles. Other types of toothpaste, especially those meant for cleaning dentures, do not have an abrasive as it could potentially damage the dentures or dull their appearance.

Most brands have flavors added to help freshen the breath and make them more appealing. The most common flavor is mint.

There are other additives that might be included for people with unique needs. For example, potassium nitrate or strontium chloride is often added to toothpastes designed for people with sensitive teeth.

When choosing a brand of toothpaste for your family, look for the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance. This seal means that the product has been researched and tested by the ADA for safety and effectiveness.