That ubiquitous product found in practically ever bathroom across the land. Have you ever given much thought as to why you select a certain brand? Is it because it was a sample from your dentist or give away at school, the taste, the cost, the ingredients to clean your teeth or prevent cavities or what? How is it that the plethora of manufacturers has concocted such an array of oral care products? I will explore this realm of oral care products in this article and perhaps others as the topics are quite vast indeed.
For the most part, toothpastes or dentifrices are a delivery system of something. The ingredients added to a gooey base (the paste) are what differentiate one brand from another as well as various formulations within brands, (i.e. Tom’s of Maine or Crest, for example). In general there are many and varied ingredients within the commercially available types. These include: the cavity fighting fluoride, the sudsing agent of sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), silica particles for fine polishing, flavoring agents, like MSG (so called natural flavoring agent), coloring agents (red dye 40 yellow lake, blue lake, etc). Also found are ingredients to help hinder tartar formation and those that help to desensitize the teeth ( strontium chloride or potassium nitrate) Then there are more “boutique” brands: Essential oil based; Homeopathic based; Herbal based; Ayurvedic; Powders; and a few more. It is not uncommon however to see an overlay of ingredients amongst the types.
The common, heavily marketed, commercial brands are fairly inexpensive and people will buy them. A look at the ingredients, beyond the Madison Avenue hype and glitz, reveals some startling information. Let’s explore them here:
Fluoride, marketed as a cavity fighting agent is a byproduct of Aluminum processing. The book FLUORIDE, THE AGING FACTOR, by Dr. John Youmminous, tells the dark side of how Fluoride found its way into toothpaste and water in our communities. Some of its actions are here: It competes competitively for the Iodine binding site in your thyroid gland, thus producing inactive molecules of thyroid hormone to your body; it is a rat poison, it is fed to cattle to slow down their mentation and make them more docile.
Sodium laurel sulfate, is derived from coconut (natural) but is irritating to the sensitive oral tissues and can contribute to the initiation and propagation of canker sores in the mouth.
The whole family of commercial food dyes has a rap sheet that can make your head spin. Some of the more notable features are that they directly contribute to ADD and ADHD.
Tartar reducing ingredients have been found in clinical practice to reduce the tartar but increase the sensitivity of the teeth. The trade off is somewhat obvious; do you want your teeth to be sensitive all the time or do you not.
Desensitizing agents can be a Godsend for those who suffer from sensitive teeth. These ingredients, although different, work in a similar manner. They cause a precipitate to form on the surface of the tooth. Much like a cork in a bottle effect, thereby sealing the outer world from the inside of the tooth. I recommend that you brush with this type of dentrifice and only spit out the froth. Your saliva will wash it away in short order anyway but leave it on the tooth/teeth for a little longer contact. This time will give more contact time and a more rapid lessening of the sensitivity.
This next group I would consider the safest of the lot. I have read virtually every label of these commercially available products.
Essential oil dentrifices most often contain peppermint and/or spearmint oil as the active agent. This works well to freshen the breath. Some of the delivery systems I have seen include the oil incorporated into a paste or gel and others are simply a diluted form of the oil and applied directly to the toothbrush for use. The caution here is that oils by themselves are or can be very strong and must be used with caution lest you burn yourself causing another problem. Also, it is stated that the use of Peppermint oil while taking homeopathic preparation can inactive them. Be sure to ask your health care provider for their guidance.
Homeopathic preparations are, for the most part, grandfathered drugs and are considered extremely safe. The FDA has oversight of these preparations but due to their low incidence of problem, exert little pressure on the group. As a “medicine” these ingredients have an energetic effect on the tissues and can help in the restoration of health to sickened tissues.
Herbal preparations have a wide array of plants available. The whole of the plant kingdom is a possible candidate. However, there are some plants that are known to exert positive beneficial effects on the tissues.
Ayurvedic preparations are designed to support the type of person you are constitutionally. These are plant based and support you if you are Veda, Pitta and Kapha (SP?) A common ingredient here is NEEM.
Powders at one time were the only way that a dentrifice was available. Traditional Baking Soda is a time honored agent to clean one’s teeth and gums. The high salinity of baking soda makes it an effective antibacterial and even more so when you combine it with 3% Hydrogen peroxide in a slurry.
True Story: The often heard and insurance driven, twice yearly “cleaning” has its’ origin in the sale of toothpaste back in the days of radio. The Amos and Andy Show carried the advert: Brush your teeth twice a day and see your dentist twice a year. So, by extension, the whole basis of the every 6 months visits to a dentist was driven by a comedy team on the radio and not for any particular scientific rationale. In fact, many people would do well to see their dentist quarterly or even more often because for the management of periodontal disease, incapacity or impairment of function to care adequately of ones self.
Teeth can be sensitive for a variety of reasons:
- Gum recession
- Periodontal disease
I had an interesting situation of a woman with a complaint that all of her teeth hurt. She had seen multiple dentists to no avail. I wondered what I might offer her that the others hadn’t. Upon diagnosis I discovered that she suffered from myofascial pain dysfunction syndrome and that the sensitivity was likely secondary to this. I put her in an orthopedic device to stabilize the jaws and muscles and a protective stent. Within 48 hours all of her sensitivity ceased and without the use of any chemical desensitizing agents. As of this writing, she has not had a return of any symptoms (6 months).
“Sphincters are ring-shaped muscles that surround the various orifices of the body both internal and external. They include the muscles around the eyes, the nostrils, the mouth, the anus, the urethra and the genitals. In a healthy body, all the sphincters work together, contracting and relaxing simultaneously.
“As they do so, they activate the respiratory system, the gastrointestinal system, the circulatory system, the lymphatic system, the musculoskeletal system and the urogenital system. In fact the ring muscles are ultimately responsible for putting all the other muscles and all the organs of the body to work.”
Mouth as sphincter muscle: When properly and ideally exercised through eating, it sets the tome for the other sphincters of the body. These include, the nares, eyes, anus.