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by Lori Herren August 27, 2021 5 min read

With all the health products on the market today, claiming their efficiency and foundation as essential in our health journey, sometimes the old saying comes to mind: “too much of any one thing isn’t good for you.” Does this hold true for toothpaste? If you were to sit down and think through all the products you use on a daily basis, ones that are there to help you and take care of you in some way, toothpaste would be one item at the top of that list. According to research, a staggering 20 billion tubes of toothpaste are manufactured each year. Which ones are best? Fluoride or fluoride free? Can toothpaste harm you? These are popular questions that are asked often to dental professionals. Let’s take a look at toothpaste and hear from a dental professional on this topic.

 

The Basics 

You can’t hear the term “toothpaste” without hearing about fluoride. What exactly is fluoride? It is a natural mineral that can be found in water, soil, rocks, and different foods. We are constantly hearing about how important fluoride is to children for the development of healthy teeth and it’s importance in protecting teeth from acid and bacteria in plaque, important to adults and children alike. Most people are aware it’s also added to our drinking water, where research states that fact alone has helped to reduce tooth decay by up to as much as 25%. Fluoride promotes a process known as demineralization, where phosphate ions and calcium help create a new protective surface to the teeth that is acid resistant, protecting teeth from erosion and harmful bacteria. The fluoride in toothpaste is also supposed to support this process.

 

Too Much?

Fluoride does have great benefits, but like most things, too much of it can be harmful to you. Dental Fluorosis is a condition that is caused by consuming too much fluoride. Dental fluorosis causes the tooth enamel to change color, sometimes appearing as brown or white spots, and can happen when children swallow too much toothpaste instead of spitting it out. These are important steps for parents of young children to follow to help prevent situations like dental fluorosis and other situations that might be harmful:

  • Parents should be supervising brushing time, at least through age 5-6, when the child shows they are brushing correctly and spitting out all toothpaste
  • Parents should monitor how much toothpaste is being used, only a pea sized amount for ages 3-6
  • Children under age 3 should be using a rice sized amount of a safe to swallow paste or gel, preferably one that does not contain fluoride. Gels enhanced with xylitol are an excellent choice for kids (and all ages) and are totally safe if swallowed. An example of a great tooth gel with xylitol is Spry Xylitol Tooth Gel, sold by Brilliant Oral Care

 

Dry Brushing

When concerns about fluoride arise, the topic of dry brushing (brushing without any toothpastes or tooth gels) comes into question. Is it really ok to dry brush your teeth? Research shows that it is perfectly safe and still beneficial to dry brush. The bristles of your toothbrush are the catalyst that does the work in the fight against plaque, not the paste you put on the bristles. Brushing your teeth properly is your strongest weapon in the war against plaque and tooth decay.

 

Words Of Wisdom From A Dental Professional

I took my questions about toothpaste to Noelle Copeland, registered dental hygienist and oral care specialist for Brilliant Oral Care. Here is her wisdom that she graciously shared, in her own words:

  • This one always shocks people when I bring it up, I call it toothpaste 101. After a lifetime of commercials marketing  toothpaste on top of a toothbrush with long swirly slabs of multi colored paste dripping off either end of the bristles, most people assume that they need an inch long serving of toothpaste to get the job done, and that is exactly what the manufacturers want you to think. You will be buying a brand new tube of toothpaste every week at that rate!

 

  • Don't misunderstand my intentions though, toothpaste is great for preventing cavities and mineralizing the teeth, when you pick the right one and use the right amount but too much toothpaste is not only not so great, it’s a distraction. Most people choose a mint family flavor of toothpaste and mint has a slight numbing and tingling effect in the mouth which can inhibit your ability to feel the effectiveness of your brushing efforts. Plus most toothpaste has added sudsing agents in them which give it the bubbly, foamy, frothy texture and feeling we've come to love so much, but it's also a deterrent. And, in my own “personal” opinion, I don't like a lot of the other common  ingredients like triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate, saccharin, carrageenan, parabens, or propylene glycol.

 

  • Most adults only need a pea-sized amount of toothpaste or slightly more, to brush their entire mouth. The teeth are being cleaned by the bristles of a toothbrush moving across the surface of the teeth, and the toothpaste is just a nicely added bonus credit. Toothpaste does contain fluoride and ingredients for stain removal such as whiteners, and abrasives, but all of that is useless if the toothbrush isn't used correctly. In my practice of dental hygiene over the years, it is way more likely that the reason a patient has gum disease or cavities is due to their absent or ineffective brushing and flossing habits and has very very little to do with their toothpaste choice. 

 

Research And Ask Questions!

Thanks to the internet, researching is right at the touch of your finger tips. I recommend that you do your own research and read as much as you can on important health topics like toothpaste. You may come away with more questions than answers sometimes, but educating yourself on what’s best for you and your family is always time well spent. Most importantly, ask questions to your dentist and dental professionals that you know. Their education and experience is an invaluable tool as you seek to take care of your oral health and the oral health for your family and loved ones.

 

© 2021 Compac Industries. All rights reserved.

This article is intended to provide an understanding of and knowledge about “health topics” as expressed through the perspective and research of the author. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice or counsel, including the diagnosis or treatment of any condition. Always seek the advice of your qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, illness or treatment of any listed or non listed situation above. By using this site, you signify your assent to our Terms and Conditions.

Sources:

https://advanceddentalartsnyc.com/is-toothpaste-necessary/

https://www.womanandhome.com/us/health-and-wellbeing/is-your-toothpaste-damaging-your-health-90268/

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/you-shouldnt-buy-fluoride-free-toothpaste

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/is-your-toothpaste-bad-for-your-bones-2020021318888

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/fluoride-toothpaste

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/colgate-reveals-to-competitors-how-it-makes-completely-recyclable-toothpaste-tube-2019-11-20#:~:text=As%20many%20as%2020%20billion,ends%20up%20in%20the%20landfill.

 

Lori Herren
Lori Herren

Lori D. Herren is a graduate of the University of West Georgia where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications for Broadcast Journalism and Public Relations, with minors in Marketing and Music. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends and pursuing her love of music.


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