Ads for oral health products are everywhere, from TV to radio to social media. Many products make bold claims about their abilities to improve your oral health or the appearance of your smile. Should you believe any of it? Read what our dentists have to say.
Claim: A popular name-brand toothpaste will repair enamel and rebuild your tooth density
What should you know about enamel?
The outer layer of teeth is the enamel. Inside the enamel is the dentin layer, which surrounds the pulp. Enamel can weaken and erode over time, and without treatment, growing weaknesses can become larger cavities. If the erosion continues to the point where the dentin layer is exposed, teeth can become sensitive.
Can enamel be repaired?
“Enamel can be repaired if the [tooth] cavity is small and located in the enamel layer only. But once it reaches the dentin layer, a filling must be done,” says Dr. Gio. “So the claim is vague and possibly misleading.”
Why does this claim lack credibility?
Enamel repair involves remineralizing teeth, and a key mineral within our teeth is hydroxyapatite, which consists of calcium and phosphate. Both of these substances are needed for remineralization. In this case, the toothpaste that makes this claim contains stannous fluoride, but not calcium or phosphate, and for this reason, it most likely cannot remineralize teeth as it claims. Moreover, it contains sodium lauryl sulfate, a foaming agent that may cause discomfort to sensitive teeth.
Are there other toothpastes that contain all the ingredients needed to remineralize teeth and repair enamel?
Other toothpastes that contain hydroxyapatite are available over the counter. At Winchester Dental, we offer a toothpaste containing fluoride, calcium, and phosphate. It also uses a milder foaming agent that helps to reduce discomfort in sensitive teeth after brushing. Ask us about it at your next visit!
Claim: A brand of dental cleansing tablets can be used instead of toothpaste to clean teeth effectively
Since childhood, we’ve all heard about the importance of brushing our teeth to get them clean. But most toothpaste is packed in tubes, many of which end up in landfills and in oceans at the rate of 1 billion each year, by some estimates. With sustainability in mind, a brand of dental cleansing tablets—with which you use a wet toothbrush to brush your teeth—aims to improve this.
Are dental cleansing tablets of this type as effective as brushing with good-quality fluoride toothpaste and water?
“This product can be very effective, and so long as you are using the option with fluoride, you can use this product to clean your teeth,” says Dr. Richardson. “It will feel different, as it does not have the ingredients that make toothpaste foam, so it can take a while to get used to using.”
What about fluoride-free cleansing tablets? Are they also useful?
Fluoride-free cleansing tablets may indeed be useful for some patients, says Dr. Richardson.
“Although most people should be using toothpaste with fluoride, some groups, such as young children who don’t spit out toothpaste well, would benefit from the fluoride-free tablets, which have other ingredients—xylitol and nano-hydroxyapatite—that are good for strengthening teeth and fighting bacteria,” she explains.
Is there an advantage to brushing with a good-quality toothpaste with water?
“If you like having the foaming feel of toothpaste, then the dental cleansing tablets will not be a good fit for your dental home care. While either regular toothpaste or cleansing tablets can be effective, the technique you use to brush will have the biggest impact on your dental health,” Dr. Richardson concludes.
For details on an effective and recommended brushing technique, see this 60-second video from the American Dental Association.
Is it time for your next dental visit? Schedule your appointment today!