Make room, fluoride. A new toothpaste is coming, and it promises to strike the kind of blow to gingivitis that made fluoride famous for fighting cavities.
The key ingredient is triclosan, a common antimicrobial agent already in wide use in products such as antibacterial soap. Scientists think triclosan may reduce gingivitis by inhibiting the growth of plaque-causing bacteria. In a major study submitted to the FDA, the new triclosan-fluoride paste (sold as Colgate Total) performed significantly better than a standard fluoride-only toothpaste in helping to prevent plaque, tartar, and gingivitis. Its cavity-fighting power was the same.
This combination of triclosan and fluoride was the first toothpaste to earn the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance for fighting four dental problems at once – gingivitis, plaque, tooth decay, and tartar.