At social gatherings, after exchanging the usual “so what do you do” answers, I am often then asked which toothpaste is the best. I usually mutter something about fluoride and the ADA Seal of Approval, and then move the conversation to more important issues, like did the Mets win or not. It’s not that I don’t want to say what I think of some gigantic corporate manufacturer, it’s just that I don’t care all that much about their toothpaste. I do care about healthy teeth and gums, but the big secret is that toothpaste is, in most cases, very overrated.
I know, I know, I too have seen the constant barrage of toothpaste ads. The right toothpaste, we are told, will prevent cavities, arrest cavities, whiten teeth, freshen breath, create instant sex appeal, prevent gingivitis, form a protective shield of some sort, and make the gums 65% stronger (whatever that even means). So I should start by asking, what is toothpaste really supposed to do?