Leading consumer association Stiftung Warentest tested 20 toothpastes on sale in Germany to see which were up to scratch. It found that budget supermarket Lidl's Dentalux, at 39 cents a tube, was as effective as big name competitor Colgate and far better value for money.
If a person uses two millilitres of Dentalux twice a day it would cost them just €2.40 a year while splashing out on Colgate would set them back around €30 euros – with not much difference, news magazine Der Spiegel reported.
Dentalux had enough fluoride to protect against cavities and was gritty enough to remove stubborn stains, the study found - although people with damaged teeth should probably not use it.
Of the toothpastes tested, Stiftung Warentest rated five as “very good”. These were Lidl's Dentalux, Colgate Total Original, Elmex Cavity Protection, Meridol and Rossmann's Perlodent.
Twelve were ranked as “good” and three as “lacking”. These last did not contain fluoride and were marketed as more natural alternatives. They were Lavera Neutral Tooth Gel, Sante Dental med Myrrh Toothpaste, and Ajona Medicinal Toothpaste Concentrate.
Those which were ranked “good” were Dentagard original, Elkadent Aktiv 3, Signal Sport Gel Extra Frisch and Dr. Best Multi Aktiv. Almost all of these had low grittiness levels meaning that although they were suitable for sensitive teeth, people wanting to maintain a mouthful of pearly whites should chose a more abrasive paste.
All of the toothpastes which had a “very good” or “good” rating contained at least 1,450 ppm (parts per million) of fluoride.
There were, Der Spiegel noted, conflicting opinions on fluoride as although it has not been scientifically proven to be dangerous some people believe it to be carcinogenic.