There was some interest expressed after I wrote “What’s in my toothpaste” regarding a list of “good” toothpastes. Of course, the word good is subjective and I guarantee that one person’s perfect toothpaste is at the bottom of someone else’s list. Still, there are definitely some pastes that are better than others.

Though the American Dental Association’s website is a seemingly good place to start the search for safe, healthy and effective toothpastes, I’m skeptical about some of the products it seals with its stamp of approval. For example, many of Procter & Gamble’s Crest products are recommended by the ADA, including Crest Tartar Protection Regular Paste. I’m not crazy about the ingredients, which include PEG-6 (a moderate to high hazard according to the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database), sodium lauryl sulfate (an irritant that is linked to canker sores) and flavor, which is essentially toothpastes’ version of cosmetics’ ambiguous “fragrance.” The toothpaste also contains FD&C Blue 1, which has been pegged as potential mitochondrial toxin. While FD&C Blue 1 is extremely common in American foods and cosmetics, the European Union requires all food sold in Europe to have a warning label if they contain artificial dyes, which have been linked to “health and behavioral problems,” according to House Rules Committee Chair Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), who advocated for the FDA to impose regulations on food dyes.

While I could go on and on about all the iffy ingredients in toothpaste, I should move on to the good stuff. First, you need to make a personal decision about whether or not you want fluoride in your toothpaste. I go into detail about the controversy regarding the ingredient in my first article on toothpaste, but essentially, it can be toxic (children are especially at risk) and can cause dental fluorosis. Still, there is good reason to use it, especially because most dentists and health professionals claim that it is essential in preventing cavities and tooth decay.

If you choose the fluoride route, Tom’s of Maine Clean and Gentle Care packs in the anti-cavity ingredient and organic aloe vera leaf juice (which may cleanse and soothe gums, as well as fight cavities), but leaves out sodium lauryl sulfate and other ugly components.

Dr. Ken’s Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste Gel pretty much makes the cut, though it contains Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate (still better than sodium lauryl sulfate, though). Still, it includes the fluoride along with green tea (which supposedly fights bacteria) and aloe vera.

If you’d rather avoid fluoride, it’s actually much easier to find all natural toothpastes; there always seems to be at least one or two ingredients I’d rather avoid in fluoride pastes. Jason Natural Cosmetics Sea Fresh, All Natural Sea-Sourced Toothpaste is a winner, replacing Sodium Lauryl Sulfate with Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate (a newer synthetic ingredient that hasn’t been studied much, but the Cosmetic Safety Data Base gives it a reassuring score of 0) and containing mostly natural ingredients.

Thieves Dentarome Toothpaste appears to get great reviews on various message boards and forums, and contains natural ingredients along with baking soda. Various studies show that baking soda removes plaque from teeth with its abrasive power. Thieves also contains stevia instead of sugar or sugar-like ingredients; the natural plant derivative is sweet but instead of ruining your teeth, it has actually been proven to remove plaque quite efficiently.

Crest Tartar Protection Regular Paste Ingredients:

Active Ingredients: Sodium Fluoride (0.15% w/v fluoride ion)

Inactive Ingredients: Water, Hydrated Silica, Sorbitol, Glycerin, Tetrapotassium Pyrophosphate, PEG 6, Disodium Pyrophosphate, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Flavor, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Saccharin, Carbomer 956, Titanium Dioxide, FD&C Blue 1

Tom’s of Maine Clean and Gentle Care Toothpaste Ingredients:

Active Ingredients: Sodium monofluorophosphate

Inactive Ingredients: Glycerin, Water, Calcium Carbonate, Hydrated Silica, Aloe Vera Leaf Juice (organic), Xylitol, Carrageenan, Acacia Gum, Peppermint Oil

Dr. Ken’s Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste Gel, Spearmint Cool:

Active Ingredients: Sodium Fluoride (0.243%) (Anti cavity toothpaste)

Inacticve Ingredients: Water, Sorbitol, Silica, Glycerin, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Natural Flavor, Chondrus Cripus (Carrageenan), Stevia (Stevia Rebaudiana) Leaf Extract, Papain, Citric Acid, Zinc Oxide, Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Extract, Sodium Bicarbonate

Jason Natural Cosmetics Sea Fresh, All Natural Sea-Sourced Toothpaste Ingredients:

Calcium Carbonate (Purified Mineral) (Natural whitening polisher), Glycerin (Vege- Vegetable) (Humectant), Aqua (Purified Sea Water, Pacific Ocean) (Base moisture), Aphanizomenon Flos Aque/Blue Green Algae*- Klamath Lake, Ore. (Astringent, detoxifying), Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate/Replaces Sodium Lauryl Sulfate - Coconut Oil (Foaming, mild cleanser), Carrageenan (Seaweed) (Thickener), Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Leaf Juice (Gum soothing), Sodium Bicarbonate Mineral Acid (Neutralizer), Bamboo (Bambusa Arundinaceae) Powder (Natural whitening polisher), Dead Sea Salt (Healing), Stevioside (Plant) (Flavor), Perilla Frutescens Japanica/Perilla Seed Extract- Mt. Fuji Japan Tree (Breath Freshener), Carum Petroselinum (Parsley) Extract (Natural-whitening polisher), Silica Crystalized Mineral (Natural Whitening Polisher), Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit Seed Extract CA Fruit) (Anti-bacterial), Mentha Viridis (Spearmint#- Natural Leaf) (Breath freshener)

Thieves Dentarome Toothpaste Ingredients:

Baking soda, deionized water, vegetable glycerine, xanthan gum, ionic trace minerals, steviocide (Stevia rebaudiana), and the essential oils of wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens), peppermint (Mentha piperita), and the blend Thieves [clove† (Syzygium aromaticum), lemon† (Citrus limon), cinnamon† (Cinnamomum verum), eucalyptus† (Eucalyptus radiata), and rosemary† (Rosmarinus officinalis)].