Just recently, we read about a new version of Crest that promises to “detoxify” your mouth – courtesy of roughly double the concentration of fluoride, itself a toxin.
Anymore, there seems to be a toothpaste for everything. Whitening. Remineralizing. Reducing sensitivity.
The question is: Do they actually do what we’re told they do? That was the focus of a study of desensitizing and anti-erosive pastes that was just published in Scientific Reports. (Enamel protects the softer dentin within. Because nerve endings are accessible through the dentin, enamel loss means tooth sensitivity. Hence, the lumping of these two types of toothpastes together.)
Researchers chose 8 products that are widely available in Brazil and Europe plus one product to use as a control. They then simulated daily brushing with exposure to an acid solution for five consecutive days and tested for enamel loss. They also analyzed the toothpastes for their chemical composition, abrasiveness, and how easily they mixed with saliva.
All of the analyzed toothpastes caused progressive tooth surface loss in the five-day period. “None of them was better than the others. Indication will depend on each case. The test showed that some [toothpastes] caused less surface loss than others, but they all resembled the control toothpaste [for] this criterion. Statistically, they were all similar, although numerically, there were differences,” [co-author Ana Cecília Corrêa] Aranha said.
So toothpastes meant to address the problem of enamel erosion actually contributed to the problem.
Fortunately, there are better solutions, starting with changing the diet to reduce erosion and support your body’s natural remineralization abilities. The Nourishing Traditions diet is well-suited suited for this (being based on the work of the great dental researcher Dr. Weston Price), but other whole food-based diets – paleo, for instance, or Mediterranean – can be helpful, too.
The main thing is to replace erosive foods – processed products, sugars, and refined starches – with real, nutrient dense foods.
Supplements, homeopathic remedies, botanicals, and other medicaments can give your body additional support. Products such as MI Paste may be used to encourage remineralization, as well. Which of these may be most helpful will depend on your specific dental situation.
But all can benefit from switching to a less demineralizing diet.
As for toothpaste, here’s something you may find surprising: You don’t really need it. It’s not toothpaste that removes plaque from your teeth. It’s the mechanical action of brushing that does – physically moving the brush head over each tooth surface.
As a 2016 meta-analysis in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology concluded,
The cumulative evidence for this systematic review demonstrates that there is moderate certainty that toothbrushing with a dentifrice does not provide an added effect for the mechanical removal of dental plaque.
So, no, you don’t need toothpaste to keep your teeth clean. That said, toothpastes can include ingredients that may be helpful in controlling harmful oral microbes, such as antimicrobial herbs and botanical extracts.
And then there’s that clean feeling afterward that everyone likes.
But for the actual business of cleaning, your brush – whether manual or electric – and floss alone are enough for the job. The only other absolutely necessary ingredient is you using these tools to keep your smile healthy and whole.