I came across "Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye," by Ellie Phillips, DDS, about a year and a half ago. I had been trying to avoid toothpastes with fluoride and aspartame because of the known adverse health effects. This book was very informative in explaining what truly causes cavities, plaque, and gum disease and presenting a dental care solution for avoiding all three.
While the book does NOT address the harmfulness of aspartame, it does discuss fluoride and how it hardens tooth enamel when applied topically - example: toothpaste and rinses, NOT ingesting fluoridated water. Personally, I still avoid anything that contains artificial sweeteners. By the way, this book does NOT discourage you from going to see your dentist. However, by heeding it's advice, those dentist trips will probably become a breeze.
So, for the past year and a half, I do the following twice a day (in the morning after breakfast and in the evening after dinner - no late night snacks): brush with Trader Joe's Peppermint Toothpaste with Baking Soda and Fluoride (contains no artificial sweeteners), floss with dental tape (cuts my gums less than regular floss), rinse with Closys, and finally rinse with Tom's of Maine Anticavity Fluoride Rinse (just checked - sweetened with xylitol).
Not only does this routine discourage me from eating late at night (I don't want to have to brush again), but my teeth and gums have never been healthier or looked better. My teeth look white but I haven't used any whitening products for a couple of years. I sleep with a retainer (I don't ever want to have to wear braces again, thank you) and I wake up with a clean mouth, not horrible bad breath.
Tom's of Maine has many excellent oral care products (toothpaste and fluoride rinse) that don't contain artificial sweeteners. I look for sales at Drugstore.com for the Tom's of Maine Anticavity Fluoride Rinse and buy in bulk. If you register for the Closys coupon, you'll be put on their email list and every few months they have sales with very good discounts. I wait for these sales and buy in bulk to keep the cost down (free shipping over $60). It is much less expensive to buy in bulk online than in stores.
As a side note, my grandfather never brushed his teeth with anything but baking soda and never had a cavity in his life. Good genes? Who knows but it worked for him. When I want that sparkling fresh clean, I'll brush my teeth with baking soda. It takes getting used to the very salty flavor but it's not too bad. I haven't had a cavity in six years. My only regret is not taking better care of my teeth when I was younger... oh well, I can't change the past.
Oral care is more important than just having pretty teeth and clean breath, it also plays a part in heart health. Periodontal disease is linked to heart disease. Gum infection can lead to blood borne bacteria. Be good to yourself!