Tips for Dental Health
By Dr. Ben
excerpts on toothpastes and preventing tooth decay are from How
To Save Your Teeth: Toxic-Free Preventive Dentistry, by David
Kennedy, Doctor of Dental Surgery. Many thanks to Dr. Kennedy for
giving us permission to share this valuable information with our readers.
Do They Help?
toothpastes are often just a cosmetic product with limited decay-preventive
value. If you stain your teeth with smoke or tea, then a toothpaste
may help reduce the staining. Pleasant flavored toothpastes seem to
help motivate children and adults to brush. However, kids may be tempted
to swallow the good-tasting stuff, and if it contains preservatives,
saccharin, lead, colorings, or fluoride, they will receive a dose
of a questionable or toxic substance. The fact that a tube of toothpaste
contains a lethal dose of fluoride for a small child has been discreetly
obscured from the general publicís knowledge.
when toothpaste tubes stayed rolled up? Many of those tubes contain
lead which the toothpaste absorbed and thus gave you an additional
daily dose of lead every time you brushed. Until manufacturers furnish
complete evidence that their products are effective and harmless,
I refuse to recommend them.
dermatologists are aware that some of the additives in toothpaste
can cause a rash or sores inside the mouth. Fluoride is particularly
notorious in this respect. One patient came to me after going to see
a dermatologist about an irritation at the corners of her mouth. She
had always had beautiful skin, but for the previous several months,
she had a persistent rash. The doctor correctly identified her toothpaste
as the culprit, and as soon as she switched to a non-fluoride brand,
her problem cleared up.
of toothpaste can help polish teeth, but too much abrasion will wear
away the enamel and especially the root. Many of the gritty products
sold as smokersí toothpastes are overly abrasive. In time, they may
actually cause yellowing of the teeth by wearing down the enamel.
Gritty toothpaste should not be used around the root surfaces, since
even the mildly abrasive products can damage this area. That does
not mean you should not brush around the gums. Iíd rather see a root
worn down by brushing than rotted away by neglect. Wear is usually
a minor problem but root decay can destroy teeth quickly. Baking soda
should not wear away enamel, but if it is improperly applied, it can
scratch the gums.
toothpastes contain bleaching agents that are supposed to whiten your
teeth. Teeth can be whitened through the use of a mouth guard which
holds the whitener against the tooth surface for several hours, but
the topical application of a paste has only little effect on the brightness
companies have advertised new toothpastes designed to prevent the
buildup of tartar in the hopes that they will reduce gum disease.
These tartar-control toothpastes apparently interfere with the remineralization
of the teeth. Several of my patients have reported increased root
sensitivity after using tartar-control toothpaste. There is little
evidence at this time that the tartar itself is the cause of gum disease.
It is but one of several factors that contribute to the spread of
disease. Since I am concerned about the long-term effects of demineralization,
I do not recommend the use of tartar-control toothpastes. Where root
sensitivity is a problem, there are toothpastes designed to help remineralize
root surfaces. These pastes are best applied after brushing just before
bed. That way they will stay on the tooth longer. Just dab a spot
on the sensitive root and go to bed. It usually takes six weeks to
feel the improvement.
any reliable scientific studies been carried out to determine the
comparative safety and effectiveness of the different toothpastes?
Maybe because there is no money to be made from such a study. Maybe
because large toothpaste manufacturers donít want you to know that
fluoride-containing toothpastes cause allergic-type reactions and
gum damage and that a family-sized tube of fluoridated toothpaste
contains enough fluoride to kill a small child.
believe the pronouncements and recommendations made by the American
Dental Association and leading consumer magazines, but few realize
that these organizations have not done the scientific research necessary
to show safety. In fact, in many cases, just the opposite has been
found Ė the products they have recommended have been shown to be unsafe!
the most reliable approach is to use the common, time-tested agents:
baking soda and salt, or a mixture of both with hydrogen peroxide.
Other natural products and options are listed in the chapter on gum
is good to the extent that it encourages kids to brush. It is bad
if it discourages dry brushing anywhere and anytime. Only a few commercial
toothpastes are helpful in controlling tooth decay or gum disease.
Feel free to brush without toothpaste; donít get fixated on the idea
that you must have it in order to clean your teeth.
prevent tooth decay, Dr. Kennedy recommends the following three-step
first step is nutritional. The amount of decay is proportional
to the length of time the teeth are in contact with sugar. Diet
is very important. I can recall the surprise on a very health-conscious
motherís face when she found out that apple juice is a common
cause of childrenís tooth decay. ďBut it is natural,Ē she protested.
Decay germs grow faster and produce more acid to damage teeth
if sugar is present. Any kind of sugar will do, even the sugar
found in dried fruit such as raisins.
second step is easy. I call it antibacterial. The germs that eat
teeth are removed by baking soda. They can be washed away after
soda is applied. The soda also helps neutralize any acid present.
third step may be the most important. The weak grooves in a childís
permanent molar teeth can be completely protected. By sealing
them with a bonding material, tooth decay can be sealed out before
it begins. If left unsealed, more than 50% of these grooves will
decay within just a few years. The twelve permanent molars erupt
four at a time at ages 6, 12, and 18. Other permanent teeth may
have a significant groove defect that may need sealants but the
six and twelve year molars are the critical ones.
David Kennedy practiced preventive dentistry for over 25 years in
San Diego, California. He holds a bachelorís degree in Comparative
Biochemistry and Physiology from the University of Kansas and a Doctor
of Dental Surgery from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.
He served for two years in the United States Navy Dental Corps. He
has lectured internationally to dentists and professionals on preventive
and restorative dentistry and on the hazards of mercury and fluoride.
He is a past President of the International Academy of Oral Medicine
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