Choosing a toothpaste these days isn't easy. Walk down the oral care aisle in your local supermarket or pharmacy, and you're bound to find dozens of toothpaste options.

This article lays out the important factors you should consider in choosing a toothpaste.

Toothpaste: The Basics

Keep in mind two basics about toothpaste:

  1. Toothpaste formulated with fluoride strengthens teeth while defending against plaque (which can lead to gum disease) and cavities.
  2. The American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval on the container signifies that the toothpaste meets certain safety and effectiveness criteria.

So be sure to choose a fluoride-containing toothpaste with the ADA seal. If you follow this rule — and do all the right things, like brush regularly with a soft-bristled toothbrush and floss — then you should be in good shape. Beyond that, it's all about your personal preferences and specific needs.

Personal Preferences for Toothpaste

If you brush two or three times a day, you have to enjoy the experience. So think about factors like these when picking a toothpaste.

If you brush two or three times a day, you have to enjoy the experience. So think about factors like these when picking a toothpaste.

Flavor: Mint is only the beginning. A huge variety of other toothpaste flavors are available, like citrus, cinnamon, vanilla mint and, for kids, orange-mango.

Gel vs. paste: Where do you come down on the gel vs. paste toothpaste divide? If you can't decide, some toothpaste manufactures now offer a gel/paste hybrid.

Organic/fluoride-free: For those who are nervous about chemicals like fluoride, more and more organic toothpastes are coming on the market. You can also find vegetarian products (i.e. with no animal ingredients) or even make your own toothpaste at home.

Addressing Your Specific Needs

Depending on the condition of your teeth and gums, you may want to choose a toothpaste that offers special benefits.

Tartar: Are your teeth susceptible to tartar buildup? Tartar-control toothpastes can fight off tartar developing above the gum line.

Sensitivity: If you cringe every time you drink a cool or hot beverage, you may want to try out toothpaste specially formulated to treat sensitive teeth.

Stains: Whitening toothpastes focus on removing stains and brightening teeth.

Bad breath: For those with breath issues, some toothpastes are designed to provide longer-lasting fresh breath.

Kids: What will it take for your child to look forward to brushing his or her teeth? Whether it's a fruity flavor or a cartoon character on the container, some toothpastes make things easier. Swallow-safe toothpastes are available for kids just starting out.

With all the options available today, there's sure to be one toothpaste that's ideal for you or your child. Good luck!