Consumer Reports is one of the few reviews we find that is based on lab tests, but that review emphasizes stain removal and taste and leaves any determination of clinical effectiveness to the ADA. Slate.com publishes a big comparison review that includes both subjective taste and texture ratings and dentists' recommendations. We also find several toothpaste reviews of Colgate Total written by dentists, based on their professional education and experience.
Experts recommend Colgate Total more often than any other toothpaste. It's approved by the American Dental Association (ADA) and contains both fluoride and triclosan -- a broad-spectrum antibiotic -- to kill bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. A copolymer allows the triclosan to remain active between brushings, even after you eat or drink. Colgate Total is not recommended for kids under 6 since its antibacterial properties have not been tested for young children. It's moderately abrasive and contains sodium lauryl sulfate, which can sometimes irritate sensitive mouths. For people prone to canker sores or sensitive teeth, reviews recommend Sensodyne Pronamel (*est. $5.50 for 4 oz.), which contains fluoride but not SLS.
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Editors rank 41 toothpastes based on lab tests for stain removal, abrasiveness and fluoride content. The review recommends a toothpaste containing triclosan, but a separate article at Consumer Reports Greener Choices recommends against toothpastes containing this ingredient.
Review: Toothpaste: Think They Whiten? Think Again, Editors of Consumer Reports, Aug. 2006
The author and several friends test Colgate Total and 34 other toothpastes for taste and feel, and they interview dentists for clinical information. Colgate Total gets top marks for clinical efficacy but mixed reviews for taste.
Review: Paste Test: Which Toothpaste Should You Buy?, Seth Stevenson, Oct. 1998
Based on his professional experience, dentist Jeffrey Kohlhardt recommends Colgate Total for most people aged 20 to 65 unless they have sensitive teeth or are prone to canker sores.
Review: Over-the-Counter Dental Products, Jeffrey Kohlhardt
This dentist recommends fluoride toothpaste that carries the ADA seal -- and for adult patients, Colgate Total. The review notes that the fairly new Colgate Total Advanced Clean incorporates similar stain-removing ingredients used in Ultra Brite, which is also made by Colgate.
Review: Dental Product Guide - Summer 2007, Vu Le, 2007
5. Ask Dr. Ellie (blog)
This dentist recommends a simple fluoride toothpaste instead of Colgate Total because she's not convinced triclosan is safe.
Review: Eight Questions, Ellie Phillips, DDS