The verdict: In these, aloe and peppermint oil replace fluoride, in response to fears of cosmetic damage to enamel from too-high doses of fluoride. But only children who swallow paste are at any risk. For the rest of us, fluoride is an essential cavity fighter.
The claim: "Natural"
The verdict: You won't find artificial colors, flavors, or fragrances in these, but the jury is still out as to whether their tooth decay- and plaque-fighting ingredients, such as xylitol (a natural cavity-fighting sweetener) and cranberry extract, work as well as traditional formulas. If you go natural, pick one that at least contains fluoride.
The verdict: While all fluoride toothpastes kill bacteria, these use a stronger antibacterial agent (triclosan) formulated to fight germs up to 12 hours after brushing. Research has shown that triclosan is safe to use, but the FDA is examining it to determine whether it contributes to antibiotic resistance.