This question comes up often when doing the 6 months recall exam or exams for new patients. It could be quite confusing for a patient what toothpaste to use when there are so many products out there, each of them claiming to be the best. There are probably as many reputable toothpaste manufacturers as reputable car manufacturers. Because toothpaste manufacturing became a muti-billion-per-year industry and very profitable and the users do not know what the contents nor the effects are, the manufacturers can only compete with each other on the way they advertise their product and on the promises on their product. Some of the promises are decent and represent the truth, but some of them are way out of reality. Ultimately the tootpaste is a cleaning agent and is as good as a cleaning agent can be.
There are two categories of toothpastes: cosmetic and therapeutic.
Cosmetic toothpastes contain abrasives, etching and whitening agents in order to remove the stains and make the teeth whiter. But the abrasive agents can reduce the thickness of the enamel layer if used for long time. The enamel layer itself has a translucent, clear aspect. Under the enamel is the dentin which has a yellowish-brownish color. The enamel masks the yellowish-brownish color of the dentin underneath. As the enamel layer wears off because of age, acids, abrasives agents it becomes thinner and does not block the color of the dentin as much, so the teeth look darker and yellower. Also they are more prone to cavities. If used, those toothpastes should not be used for long time because they are going to abrade the protective layer of the teeth, the enamel. There are better, more conservative for the enamel and more efficient ways to whiten teeth. They can be whitened with whitening gels as take home gels or in one hour in a dental office using ZOOM!
Therapeutic pastes contain antibacterial ingredients that attack the bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities. It does not mean that if that ingredient attacks those kinds of bacteria, it is necessarily effective. Deffinitely the ingredients in any therapeutic toothpaste can not treat gum disease nor cavities. But they have the potential to help prevent them. One of the main therapeutic ingredient is the fluoride. Detergents and foaming agents have an antibacterial effect also by removing them from the teeth and by breaking their cell wall. Some of the most frequent used ones are sodium lauryl sulphate( also found in any household shampoo or soap) and sodium N-lauroyl sarcosinate.
Toothpastes can be also divided into natural and artificial. We talked above about the artificial ones. There are also on the market purely natural pastes. All artificial toothpastes contain water(about 25%), abrasives, flavoring agents, detergents, sweeteners, coloring agents, preservatives(formaldehyde, paraben, diclorophene). All those chemicals are not mild chemicals. And they stay in your mouth for approx. 2 min while they contact one of the most absorbant area of your body(sublingual, under the tongue are where the nitroglycerin pills are placed in people with heart disease for a fast absorbtion). Those chemicals being in that area have the potential to be absorbed into the patient’s blood stream also.
Purely natural toothpastes are made fully from natural oils with no preservatives or artificial ingredients. My favorite is OraMD( www.oramd.com). I am sure there are others also, but this is the one to my knowledge that is purely natural. I do not have an invested interest in this product. I am just using it and recommending it.
If you have any questions or concerns please call my office in Washington Township, NJ for a Free Consultation. Sewell Dental Arts, 856-582-2220.