Ask almost anyone to name the two most fundamental pieces of dental equipment necessary for healthy teeth and they will almost certainly say toothbrush and toothpaste.
We will look at the question of manual or electric toothbrush in a future blog, but today, your handy Addlestone dentists take a look at some of the different toothpastes that are now widely available in supermarkets, and also how suitable they are for patient use.
It is no longer just a case of choosing between different brands, but differently targeted dental issues too. Whether for teeth whitening, gum disease, or decay prevention, an awful lot of money is currently being spent on advertising these products.
Teeth whitening toothpastes
This type of toothpaste is probably the most widely advertised, but do they work? It is entirely understandable that people want to have nice looking white teeth, and if using a toothpaste designed for that purpose works, then it makes absolute sense to use it, doesn’t it?
Patients should be cautious. From a whitening teeth perspective, you are unlikely to see anything but the smallest improvement if you use these. The reason for this is that whilst they do contain a whitening ingredient similar to that used in a dental practice for a supervised teeth whitening treatment, they do so in much smaller quantities. The amount of whitening ingredient is restricted for safety reasons. Not only could it cause potential burning to soft oral tissue if it was too strong (these tissues are protected when done professionally), but young children may accidentally swallow toothpaste, or even eat it in some cases. This could be potentially dangerous and therefore the quantities in these toothpastes are kept very low.
In addition to this, some toothpastes aim to clean the surface of the teeth better through the use of additional abrasives. Whilst this may result in slightly whiter teeth, it may also cause damage to the enamel on your teeth which could lead to sensitivity and even decay due to lack of protection.
Medical charcoal is used in situations such as where a person has been poisoned. It can be very effective in removing toxins from the stomach and this is one of the arguments for its use in toothpaste. Bacteria that can lead to gum disease, so the theory goes, will be removed from the gums using this toothpaste.
There is little medical evidence to support this and in fact, charcoal toothpaste could well damage the teeth as the fine particles are also abrasive and may damage the surface of the teeth. In addition to this, the charcoal particles may become trapped in the gums, causing irritation and soreness. In our opinion, this is probably a ‘trend’ toothpaste that is promoted widely by celebrities but has no real proven benefit and could be harmful to both teeth and gums, particularly where you are prone to brushing too hard.
Gum disease toothpaste
As we have mentioned before, it isn’t just our teeth that are important but our gums as well. With gum disease being a leading cause of tooth loss, it is a good idea to have a toothpaste designed to combat this problem. The question is does it work?
In this particular case, the news is good. Gum disease toothpastes can make a real difference. They largely do this by including bicarbonate of soda and other ingredients which help to break down the bacteria, making it easier to control and remove. Regularly using this type of toothpaste should help to minimise the risk of gingivitis and periodontitis, though patients should note that you still need to see the hygienist every six months.
One word of caution about any toothpaste, and especially those that may be aimed at people who wish to live a more ‘natural’ life. Some of these ‘natural’ toothpastes may not include fluoride. This is an important ingredient in any toothpaste as fluoride helps to strengthen the enamel on the teeth and it is this which protects the teeth from decay.
Especially with the widespread use of social media, we are likely to come across a whole range of ‘alternative toothpastes’. Our advice is to generally avoid these or at least do some research. Use reliable medical and dental resources to investigate the legitimacy and effectiveness of these toothpastes and if in any doubt, avoid. With the exception perhaps of the gum disease toothpastes, which we do believe have benefits, most toothpastes produced by reliable manufacturers should be more than adequate and it probably comes down to taste more than anything else.
If you would like to discuss your choice of toothpaste with us, we are happy to help. You can make appointments at the Sync Dental Centres in Addlestone by calling us on 01932 856541.