Tags Posts tagged with "Toothpaste"

Toothpaste

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Should You Rinse Your Mouth After Brushing Your Teeth?
©Subbotina Anna/Shutterstock.com

Are you supposed to rinse after brushing your teeth?  That’s a common question that people have about brushing.

At the Maine Dental Association meeting last year, a presenter was talking about the benefits of fluoride and asked his dental audience the following question:

“Does anybody here actually rinse out with water after brushing so that they rinse away the tooth-protecting fluoride?!?”

He said it in a tone that let you know that you would feel like a complete idiot if you raised your hand.  Although I do rinse out with water, I didn’t dare raise my hand!  From my vantage point, it looked like only two or three hands were raised out of the hundreds of dentists that were present.

Does that one dentist’s opinion mean that everyone should stop rinsing out with water after they brush their teeth?  No.  In fact, there are valid arguments on both sides of this issue.

Before I discuss whether or not you should rinse out with water after brushing your teeth, let’s take a look at both sides of the argument and some supporting studies.

The Reason Behind Not Rinsing with Water After You Brush Your Teeth

Should You Rinse After Brushing?As I pointed out above, if you rinse with water after brushing your teeth, then you are rinsing away the benefits that fluoride provides to your teeth.

Since most people only brush for somewhere around a minute, the fluoridated toothpaste doesn’t spend much time in contact with the teeth.  By not rinsing out after you’re done brushing, you give the fluoride more time to protect your teeth, which could translate to healthier teeth with fewer cavities.

This theory has been backed by research.

This study concluded that:

…there might be a relation between the caries activity and the retention of fluoride after toothbrushing, and that mouthrinsing with water after the brushing should be reduced to a minimum in order to get the maximum beneficial effect of the daily fluoride exposure through the dentifrice.

Even rinsing with a tiny amount of water and making a mouthwash out of the toothpaste left in your mout after brushing has been shown to be effective.  The textbook Dental Caries by Fejerskov states that “Clinical studies in which some of the participants have been taught to use a small volume of water and the toothpaste slurry left after brushing as a ‘mouthrinse’ have demonstrated that further reductions in caries are achievable. A 26% reduction in the incidence of approximal caries has been claimed for this method.”

Approximal caries is just a fancy way of saying “cavities between two teeth” (but hey, saying it like that wouldn’t have sounded as intelligent!)

It would appear from these academic sources that not rinsing or minimal rinsing with water after brushing can help prevent cavities from occurring.

The Reason Behind Rinsing with Water After You Brush Your Teeth

Many people who rinse after brushing say things like:

– Swallowing toothpaste will irritate your stomach.

– You need to rinse after brushing so you an rinse away all of the bacteria that you just brushed off of your teeth.

If you’re like me, you’ve been rinsing out with water after you brush for your whole life and you don’t feel like it’s really affected your life for the worse.  For example, Yahoo Answers user Just Me, recently stated the following about her brushing habits:

i always rinse after brushing…and not 2 brag…but i have really nice teeth!! idk good luck!! 🙂

If you’re never had a problem with your teeth and you rinse after brushing, is there really a reason to change what you’re doing?  Probably not, especially when you take a look at studies that contradict the studies above.

This study consisted of a clinical trial that lasted for three years and included 407 children.  It emphatically states:

Previous studies have indicated that rinsing the mouth with a beaker of water after toothbrushing may compromise the caries reducing effect of fluoride toothpaste.

It is concluded that post-brushing rinsing with water, under the conditions of this study, does not significantly affect the caries reducing effect of a fluoride toothpaste.

It looks like there is some scientific disagreement on whether or not rinsing with water after brushing really does improve oral health.

Should You Rinse Out With Water After Brushing Your Teeth?

I think the reason that there is some disagreement on this subject is because not rinsing after brushing appears to be only beneficial if you are at a high risk of getting cavities.

How at risk are you for cavities?  Here’s 25 things that make you more likely to get cavities.

Personally, I rinse out after brushing my teeth.  From time-to-time, I will use a fluoride mouth wash or simply put some new toothpaste into my mouth and use that as a mouth wash.  After brushing, I spit and then rinse.

If at your most recent dental checkup you were informed that you have some incipient lesions (small cavities that are just starting), then perhaps not rinsing your mouth out after you brush could help heal those small cavities and get you a clean bill of oral health at your next visit.

Do you have any questions regarding whether or not you should rinse out after brushing?  I’d love to hear what you have to say — simply leave a comment below.  Thanks for reading!

1
Lemon Citrus Can Cause Tooth Acid Erosion
©Silvia Bukovac/Shutterstock.com

I got the following email from an Oral Answers reader asking about the difference between acid erosion and tooth decay.  He writes:

“What is the difference between acid erosion and tooth decay?  How to I ensure that I minimise both of these.  Also which is the best toothpaste to use to prevent this, I have heard of duraphat (Note from Tom: Duraphat is a fluoride product marketed as Duraflor in the United States) which i know helps with decay and pronamel which helps with erosion but I do not know if both help with both.”

Preventing Tooth Decay and Acid Erosion

The Difference Between Tooth Decay and Acid Erosion

Both tooth decay and acid erosion involve your tooth structure getting dissolved. The main difference between tooth decay and acid erosion is the source of the acid.

In acid erosion, your teeth are dissolved by acidic foods, drinks, or environmental sources of acid that come into contact with your teeth.

To learn how to spot acids that eat away your teeth, read How to Identify Acidic Foods and Drinks.

Tooth decay, however is caused by millions of tiny bacteria that live on your teeth that excrete acid, which eats away at your teeth.

To learn more about these bacteria, read What Every Human Needs to Know About Plaque.

Preventing Tooth Decay and Acid Erosion

The second part of this reader’s question involved preventing tooth decay and acid erosion.  The best way to prevent tooth decay is by getting rid of the bacteria on your teeth regularly through brushing and flossing.  You might also want to learn about 12 weapons of plaque destruction and these 25 things that increase your risk of getting tooth decay.

 Preventing acid erosion is as simple as not eating or drinking too much acid.  You might be surprised to learn that many of the drinks we enjoy made this list of 9 acidic drinks that can dissolve your teeth.

As far as strengthening your teeth, most any toothpaste contains fluoride, which protects your teeth.  It probably doesn’t matter which type of toothpaste you’re using as long as it contains fluoride and you’re brushing regularly.

Conclusion

Tooth decay is caused by acid from bacteria that live on your teeth.  Acid erosion is caused by acids that you eat, drink, or otherwise expose to your teeth.

You can prevent tooth decay and acid erosion by brushing and flossing regularly and minimizing your intake of acidic foods and drinks.

Do you have any questions about tooth decay and acid erosion?  I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!

7
Fluoride Toothpaste on Brush
©Tamas Panczel Eross/Shutterstock.com

My brother was at the dentist a few days ago and he was wondering if it was worth it to have his dentist apply a fluoride gel to his teeth.  He wanted to know if there was really that much more fluoride in the dentist’s gel than is in his toothpaste and fluoride mouthwash.  I told him that there is a lot more fluoride in the professionally-applied gels than there is in his home dental care products.

Usually dentists only give children fluoride gel at routine appointments, however adults may benefit from fluoride treatment.  In the book Fluoride in Dentistry, Ole Fejerskov states, “Fluoride-containing mouth gels may be applied, usually by the dental professional once yearly, to individuals living in communities with low concentrations of fluoride in the water supply.” If you live in a community with water fluoridation and you brush your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste, you may want to consult with your dentist on whether or not the extra fluoride will do any good. After answering his question, I thought that other people may be interested in how much fluoride there is in different dental products. To make the amounts more clear, I will talk about fluoride concentration in parts per million in this article.

You can get a better perspective on PPM in the following article: How Much Fluoride Is in a PPM (Part per million)?

How Much Fluoride is In Various Dental Products?

1 PPM: Tap Water.  Since the dental community has worked so hard to get fluoride in the public water supply to help prevent cavities, I figured I would add water into this list.  The concentration goes up to 3 PPM if you boil that water in a Teflon-coated pot or pan. 226 PPM: Fluoride Mouth Wash.  226 PPM is the maximum allowable fluoride concentration available in over the counter fluoride mouthwashes (0.05% NaF), such as ACT Restoring Mouthwash. 910 PPM: Prescription Fluoride Mouthwash.  910 PPM is an acceptable concentration for prescription-strength fluoride mouthwash.  Some prescription fluoride mouthwashes that contain stannous fluoride have a concentration of 970 PPM. 1500 PPM: Toothpaste.  Most toothpastes are now at 1500 PPM of fluoride.  The number has gradually increased over time.  In the 1990’s most toothpaste in the United States had only 1000 PPM of fluoride.  If you don’t want to spend the money on fluoride mouthwash, you can get the same cavity-fighting effect by simply brushing longer so that the toothpaste remains in contact with your teeth for more time. 12,300 PPM: Fluoride Gel.  Remember the strawberry/orange/mint-flavored gel that your dentist gave you when you were a kid?  The reason that it helps your teeth is because it contains so much fluoride — it’s made up of 1.23% acidulated phosphate fluoride. 19,300 PPM: Alginate Impression Material.  Unexpectedly, that pasty stuff that dentists use to take impressions of your teeth contains a lot of fluoride!  This study evaluated eight types of alginate and listed the PPM of each.  I took the average to come up with 19,300 PPM.  Another study has also looked at the fluoride concentrations in alginate impression material and came up with similar results.  Don’t worry about getting too much fluoride though, since most of it stays locked up inside the impression material. 19,400 PPM: Stannous Fluoride Topical Solution.  Although this isn’t used as much as the fluoride gels and varnishes, some dentists do apply topical stannous fluoride to their patients. 22,600 PPM: Fluoride Varnish.  Fluoride varnish is painted on your teeth, similarly to how nail polish is painted on your nails.  We usually use this to help combat tooth sensitivity.  Fluoride varnish can also be used in children rather than the gels since it is easier for kids to swallow lots of the gel than it is for them to swallow a lot of the fluoride varnish.

Conclusion

As you can see, there is a lot of fluoride in many of the dental products that are out there. Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the amount of fluoride in dental products?  I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!

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Fluoride in Water and Toothpaste
©Michaeljung/Shutterstock.com

Jake (whom I assume is a dentist) left an interesting comment about fluoride on Sunday.  He said:

I had an anti-fluoride patient the other day that was saying he read somewhere that a pea-sized amount of toothpaste contains the same amount of fluoride in 1 liter of tap water (1 ppm). His argument was that the toothpaste labels says to call poison control if more than a pea-sized amount is swallowed (which it doesn’t), and the same amount is in 1 liter of water. So he was wondering if he should call poison control every time he drinks more than a liter of water. It sounded ludicrous, but how much fluoride is actually in a pea-sized amount of toothpaste in comparison to 1 liter of water?

Fluoride Warnings On Toothpaste
Fluoride Warnings on Toothpaste (Click to enlarge)

I enjoy talking about water fluoridation.  Looking back, I’ve actually written 15 different posts about fluoride!

Jake’s comment really got me wondering about how the fluoride levels compare between fluoridated water and toothpaste.

Do Toothpastes Contain a Warning Telling You to Call Poison Control?

First, let’s take a look at the common anti-fluoride claim that fluoride is poison.  I took a picture of the back of three different brands of toothpastes: Colgate, Aquafresh, and Crest.  If you click on the picture, you can view a large size that will let you read the warning.  Each tube has a similar warning.  The back of the Colgate Total toothpaste box states:

If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.

But how much do people really use for brushing?  There’s the ultra-conservative pea size, and then there’s the large stripe that toothpaste manufacturers want us to use so that we buy lots of toothpaste!

I decided to find out how much toothpaste is in a large stripe by conducting a two-part experiment.

My Toothpaste Experiment

On the back of the toothpaste tube, it states that you should call the poison control center if you swallow more than is used for brushing.  This is what the toothpaste manufacturers write.  I took the liberty of assuming that a normal amount of toothpaste for them is a thick stripe on a manual toothbrush (like they show in their commercials).

I decided to find out exactly how much toothpaste is in a big stripe so that I could figure out how much fluoride it has.  I got carried away and tried two different brands.

Here’s the large stripe of Colgate Total that I put on my wife’s toothbrush (are your toothbrush bristles as straight as hers?  If not, it may be time to get a new toothbrush):

A Large Stripe of Colgate on a Brush

I measured the toothpaste and found that it filled the 1/4 teaspoon – giving us 1.25 ml of toothpaste:

Colgate Toothpaste Measured

Out of curiosity (and because it seemed like a fun idea after taking two finals over the past 36 hours), I measured the Crest Toothpaste as well.  I was able to get a slightly bigger stripe on the brush this time.  Unfortunately, the stripe I created just wasn’t as good looking as it is on the toothpaste commercials!  However, if you want to practice making a beautiful stripe of toothpaste on your brush, I have to recommend the Crest since it is much thicker.

Crest Stripe on Toothbrush

This large stripe of Crest ended up overflowing the 1/4 teaspoon, giving us about 1.75 ml of toothpaste:

Crest Toothpaste Measured

I decided to take the average of my two “large stripes” to use as the baseline amount of toothpaste you can swallow and still be safe (according to the toothpaste manufacturers) – which appears to be 1.5 ml from my unscientific experiment.

Contrast this with a peasize amount of toothpaste which is only 0.2 ml.  Who would’ve guessed that the average pea only takes up a volume of 0.2 ml?

Now that we know how much toothpaste we use, we can figure out how much fluoride we would ingest if we swallowed a large stripe of toothpaste.

How Much Fluoride is in Toothpaste?

A majority of toothpastes on the market contain about 0.15% fluoride ion, which comes out to 1500 ppm (parts per million.)

In 1.5 ml of toothpaste (the large stripe pictured above) you would find 2.25 mg of fluoride.

In a pea sized amount of toothpaste, you would only find 0.3 mg of fluoride.

How Much Fluoride is in Fluoridated Water?

Most fluoridated water contains about 1.0 ppm.  That means that in 1 liter of water, you would find about 1 mg of fluoride.

Not sure how much fluoride is in your water? Then find out how much fluoride is in your tap water!

Comparing the Amount of Fluoride In Water with the Amount of Fluoride in Toothpaste

As you can see, you would have to drink over 2 liters of water to get the same amount of fluoride that you would get by swallowing a large stripe of toothpaste.  You would only have to drink 300 ml of water (a little less than a 12 oz. can of soda) to get the same amount of fluoride you would get by swallowing a pea size amount of toothpaste.

You Don’t Need to Call Poison Control When You Drink Fluoridated Water!

I’m sure Jake’s patient was just trying to make a point.  Point taken!  However, according to the American Dental Association (Page 31 in their Fluoridation Facts PDF), it would take 5-10 grams of fluoride to cause fluoride toxicity in an average 155-pound man.  That means that a 155-pound man would need to drink 5,000 liters of water (over 1300 gallons!) in order to get a toxic dose of fluoride.

The water would kill you (as this tragic story illustrates) long before the fluoride would have any toxic effect.

Conclusion

Interestingly, there is more fluoride in a liter of water than in a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, but more fluoride in a large stripe of toothpaste than in a liter of water.  Here’s what I found:

  • In a pea size amount of toothpaste, there’s 0.3 mg of fluoride.
  • In a large stripe of toothpaste, there’s 2.25 mg of fluoride.
  • In one liter of fluoridated water, you’ll find 1 mg of fluoride.

Although fluoride is great for your teeth, too much of it during development of the teeth can cause dental fluorosis.

Do you have any questions about toothpaste fluoride content or water fluoride content?  I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!

3
Brush All Sides of Your Teeth
©Dean Bertoncelj/Shutterstock.com

Not long ago, I did a cleaning on one of my patients and found something very similar to what I find in most of my patients — that this particular patient takes a lot better care of the side of the teeth that he can see in the mirror than the back (tongue) side of the teeth.

Brushing TeethMaybe you do the same thing.  Many years ago, some researchers spied on 85 adolescents brushing their teeth.  They found that people spent the most time brushing the sides of the teeth that you can see, a moderate amount of time brushing the biting surfaces, and the least amount of time brushing the tongue-side of the teeth!  Interestingly, the kids also spent more time brushing the lower teeth than the upper teeth.

Another study videotaped tooth brushing behavior in people aged 5 to 22 and found that less than 10% of the time was spent brushing the tongue-side of the teeth.

Why Do We Not Brush the Tongue Sides of Our Teeth?

I think we spend less time brushing the tongue-side of our teeth for a couple of reasons:

1 – We tend to focus more on cleaning the sides of the teeth that we actually see.
2 – It’s easier to brush the front side of the teeth without the obstruction of a tongue.

It seems that the more difficult something is to do, the less likely people are to do it. I think this goes along with the two reasons most people don’t floss: It’s too hard and they can’t see in between their teeth.

Speaking of flossing, are you making one of these 10 common flossing mistakes?

Do You Really Need to Brush the Tongue Side of Your Teeth?

Brushing the tongue-side of the teeth is very important.  If you don’t brush this surface of your teeth, you let the bacteria in your mouth grow on your teeth.  This can eventually cause cavities or destroy the bone that holds your teeth in your mouth.

If you’re not brushing away the plaque daily, then it can harden.  Once the plaque has hardened into tartar or calculus (click to see a picture of tartar), it can only be removed by a dental professional.  More often than not, we have to spend a lot more time removing tartar from the tongue side of the teeth when patients come in for their dental cleanings.

Conclusion

If you’re not sure if you brush the tongue side of your teeth, you can ask your dentist how you’re doing.  It might also be helpful to get some plaque disclosing tablets (be careful, some plaque disclosing solutions don’t actually highlight plaque!) and a dental mirror at a pharmacy and check for yourself.

Another helpful hint is to time how long you spend brushing the front side of your teeth and then make sure you spend just as much time brushing the tongue-side of your teeth.

Do you have any questions about brushing your teeth or dental hygiene in general?  I’d love to hear your questions, comments, and concerns in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!

25
Cause of Canker Sores
©Aseph/Shutterstock.com

Ben, an Oral Answers reader, recently asked about what really causes canker sores (also known as aphthous ulcers.) He’s heard that sodium lauryl sulfate in toothpaste can cause canker sores, but not everyone who brushes their teeth gets canker sores.

Canker Sore
A canker sore on the posterior roof of the mouth

To be honest, there isn’t any one thing that can cause canker sores in everyone.  However, different things can cause canker sores in different people.

Here’s a list of 10 things that have been shown to cause canker sores in certain people.

10 Things that Cause Canker Sores In Susceptible People

1. Allergies

The book Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology by Neville says, “An antigenic stimulus appears to be the primary initiating factor in the immune-mediated cytotoxic destruction of the mucosa in many patients.”

Basically, it says that the main factor that causes the body to destroy it’s own oral tissues appears to be an allergic response.

There are a LOT of different allergens that have been associated with canker sores.  Here’s a list of the most common ones:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), commonly found as a main ingredient in toothpaste
  • Certain medications such as NSAIDS (ibuprofen), beta blockers, and nicorandil
  • A variety of foods, such as:
    • Citrus fruits
    • Strawberries
    • Tomatoes
    • Coffee
    • Gluten (the protein found in wheat products)
    • Dairy products, such as cow’s milk and cheese
    • Nuts
    • Chocolate
    • Food dyes
    • Food flavorings
    • Food preservatives

It’s important to remember that many of the foods listed above do not usually cause canker sores, but they have been found to be trigger foods in certain people. If you think that a certain food is causing your canker sores, you can try to pinpoint which food it is by using the above list and trying an elimination diet.  You will want to talk to your doctor about your concerns to get additional information before attempting to eliminate certain foods altogether.

2. Stress

Stress is a major cause of canker sores.  It is presumed that since stress weakens the body’s immune system that it makes it more susceptible to canker sores.

3. Trauma

Trauma has also been associated with canker sores.  Anytime the barrier over the deeper tissues inside your mouth is broken, there is a higher risk for canker sores in certain people.  The trauma can be caused by a variety of things, such as sharp foods like chips and crackers, biting, braces or hard=bristled toothbrushes.

4. Genetics

Your family history can play a big role in whether or not you get canker sores.  In fact, if both of your parents get canker sores, there’s a 90% chance that you will get them too!

Joseph A. Regezi, in his oral pathology book states, “Family history represents a risk factor. Over 40% of affected patients have a first-degree relative who is also affected by aphthous ulcers. There is a 90% degree of risk when both parents are affected.”

5. Compromised Immune System

Some people who have problems with their immune system have many canker sores.  For example, people with AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) frequently get aphthous ulcers.

6. Infectious Organisms

Certain organisms have also been implicated in causing canker sores in certain people.  Some examples of organisms that are associated with canker sores are:

  • Certain forms of streptococci
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Herpes simplex virus
  • Varicella-Zoster virus (chicken pox)
  • Adenovirus
  • Cytomegalovirus

7. Nutritional Deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies have been shown to be correlated with canker sores.  Shortages of the following vitamins and minerals are suspect:

  • Iron
  • Folic Acid
  • Zinc
  • The “B” Vitamins (Vitamin B1, B2, B6, and B12)

8. Stopping Smoking

When you smoke, the tissue lining the inside of your mouth gets slightly thicker.  Quitting smoking thins the lining inside of your mouth and makes you more susceptible to canker sores.

This doesn’t mean that you should smoke to avoid canker sores!  Smoking has many more serious negative effects on your oral health.  For example, smoking has been linked to oral cancer and smokers in general have less teeth than non-smokers.  So it is still a great idea to quit smoking if you currently do!

9. Hormones

Hormones can also affect whether or not you get canker sores.  The book Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology by Neville says, “In a small subset of female patients, a negative association was reported between the occurrence of [canker sores] and the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle—a period of mucosal proliferation and keratinization.”

The luteal phase of your menstrual cycle begins right after you ovulate (approximately day 14) and ends on the day you get your next period.  When the tissue inside your mouth gets thicker (i.e. – more keratin forms) then you see a decrease in the amount of canker sores.

10. Blood Abnormalities

Certain blood abnormalities, such as cyclic neutropenia have also been implicated in canker sores.  Regezi’s Oral Pathology textbook states the following (I bolded the part that deals with canker sores):

“Cyclic neutropenia, a rare blood dyscrasia, is manifested as severe cyclic depletions of neutrophils from the blood and marrow, with a mean cycle, or periodicity, of about 21 days…Fever, malaise, oral ulcers, cervical lymphadenopathy, and infections may appear during neutropenic episodes.”

Conclusion

There are a variety of things that can cause canker sores.  However, you may notice that nothing I mentioned above applies to you and you still have canker sores.  This is because we still don’t know everything that causes canker sores.  Researchers are still working to understand the exact reasons why some people get them and some people don’t.

Do you get canker sores?  Have you noticed that they are caused something that I didn’t mention above?  I’d love to hear your comments and questions in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!

2
Products with American Dental Association Seal
©Natalia Gaak NWH/Shutterstock.com

Not many people are aware that the American Dental Association keeps an updated list on their website of all of the dental products that have received the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

You can view and print the entire list of ADA Accepted dental products here in PDF format.

When people think of the ADA Seal, the first product category to come to mind is usually toothpastes.  However, the toothpaste category came in second place.  There are more than twice as many mouth rinses than toothpastes that carry the ADA Seal.

Below you can find a list of all the categories and how many products in each category have received the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

The 15  Categories of Dental Products that carry the ADA Seal

ADA Seal of Acceptance1 – Mouth Rinses.  143 different brands of mouthwash qualified for the ADA Seal.

2 – Toothpastes.  65 toothpastes currently carry the ADA Seal.

3 – Fluoride Mouth Rinses.  44 brands of fluoride mouthwashes qualified for the ADA Seal.

4 – Toothbrushes.  34 different toothbrushes received the ADA Seal.

5 – Floss.  30 different brands of floss qualified for the ADA Seal.

Even if you’re using ADA approved floss, you can still make these 10 mistakes when you floss.

6 – Chewing Gum.  5 different brands of chewing gums qualified for the ADA Seal.

7 – Fluoride Gels.  4 brands of fluoride gel qualified for the ADA Seal.

8 – Denture Adhesives.  3 denture adhesives qualified for the ADA Seal.

9 – Water Filters.  2 water filters carry the ADA Seal of Acceptance.  I wondered why a water filter would get the ADA Seal.  It turns out that the PUR water filters reduce levels of contaminants in water while not reducing the level of tooth-protecting fluoride.

10 – Canker Sore Pain Relief Ointments.  2 canker sore pain relief ointments qualified for the ADA Seal.

11 – Plaque Disclosing Mouth Rinses.  Only 1 plaque disclosing mouth rinse, Listerine Agent Cool Blue Tinting Rinse, qualified for the ADA Seal.  Unfortunately, I don’t think it was deserved as Listerine Agent Cool Blue does not disclose plaque; it simply tints all of the teeth blue.

To see what my teeth looked like after rinsing with Listerine Agent Cool Blue, read the article Listerine Agent Cool Blue Doesn’t Disclose Plaque.  If you want to find plaque disclosing solutions that actually show you where the plaque is on your teeth, read the article How Plaque Disclosing Tablets Can Help You Brush Better.

12 – Denture Pain Relief Ointment.  Only 1 denture pain relief ointment, Benzodent Analgesic Denture Ointment, qualified for the ADA Seal.

13 – Emergency Tooth Preservation Products.  Only one product got the ADA Seal in this category, Save-A-Tooth.

To learn more about how to use the Save-A-Tooth System, read the article What to Do When Your Permanent Tooth Gets Knocked Out.

14 – Interdental Cleaners.  Only one brand of interdental cleaners, Stim-U-Dent Plaque Removers, qualified for the ADA Seal.

15 – Dentist-Dispensed Teeth Whitening Gels.  Only 1 brand of teeth whitening gel, Opalescence Whitening Gel 10%, qualified for the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

Does the ADA Seal Mean Everything?

As I stated above, there are many great plaque disclosing tablets/solutions that don’t have the ADA Seal while the one that does only tints your teeth without showing you where the plaque is!

Usually the ADA Seal indicates that a product actually does what it is supposed to do (is effective) and is safe.  You can read more about the ADA Seal in this previous article: The ADA Seal of Acceptance: Everything You Need to Know.

Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the ADA Seal or products that have received it?  I’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!

10
Ingredients in Toothpaste
©Ruslan Guzov/Shutterstock.com

Ever since antifreeze chemicals were discovered in toothpaste produced in China several years ago, people have been increasingly concerned about the ingredients found in toothpaste.  Luckily, anti-freeze is not found in toothpaste sold in the United States as it is illegal.

Toothpaste consists of several different ingredients that leave our teeth feeling fresh and clean.

So if you’ve ever wanted to know what’s inside that gooey paste that you smear against your teeth everyday, read on.

Toothpaste on a Toothbrush

The Ten Main Ingredients In Your Toothpaste

1 – Fluoride

Fluoride is the only active ingredient found in all toothpastes.  It wasn’t until about 50 years ago that fluoride was first added to toothpastes.  Fluoride only makes up about 0.15% of most toothpastes, although prescription-strength fluoride toothpastes contain more than 1% of fluoride.

To learn why fluoride is so important, read about the three ways fluoride protects your teeth.

2 – Abrasives

The abrasives found in toothpastes are what help scrape the plaque off of our teeth.  I think it’s important to mention that many whitening toothpastes contain too many abrasives, which can wear down the enamel or cementum on your teeth and cause your teeth to be sensitive.

Read this article to learn why whitening toothpaste isn’t making your teeth any whiter.

Some examples of abrasives in toothpastes are mica, calcium carbonate, calcium pyrophosphate, dicalcium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate, and hydrated silica.  The mineral mica not only acts as an abrasive, but can add an exciting glitter effect to toothpaste, making the urge to brush almost irresistible!

3 – Detergents

Detergents make people feel like the toothpaste is working by creating bubbles and making the toothpaste foamy.  The main detergent in toothpaste is known as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS.)  Some researchers believe that sodium lauryl sulfate causes canker sores, but that’s a topic I’ll discuss in a future article.

4 – Flavors

Flavors are added to most toothpastes.  Some common flavors are bubblegum, fruit, mint, and cinnamon.  The purpose of the flavors are to mask any unpleasant tastes in the toothpaste and they can also help to freshen your breath by masking the bad odors in your mouth.

5 – Moisturizers and Humectants

A humectant is something that keeps a substance moist.  Humectants in toothpaste are what keep the toothpaste nice and smooth and help keep it from drying out.  Some commonly-used humectants are glycerin, sorbitol, and water.

Toothpaste Ingredients

6 – Antibacterial Agents

Certain toothpastes contain Triclosan, which is an antibacterial and antifungal agent.  It is commonly found in antibacterial soaps.  Not too long ago, Colgate started adding it to its toothpaste to create the Colgate Total brand that claims to protect teeth from plaque for up to 12 hours.

7 – Preservatives

Preservatives are added to toothpastes so that microbes don’t grow in the toothpaste and spoil it.  It would probably be frustrating if you had to refrigerate your toothpaste — especially if you have teeth that are sensitive to cold temperatures!  Thanks to preservatives, toothpaste is safe for many months at room temperature.

8 – Colors

Colors can give toothpaste an attractive appearance.  When I was a teenager, I remember my mom had bought some “natural” toothpaste.  Being a toothpaste junkie, I decided to try it just for fun to see how it worked.  It was a dark brown color and looked pretty gross and tasted even worse.  I never used that toothpaste again.  A little bit of color could have gone a long way in improving that toothpaste!

9 – Sweeteners

Toothpastes usually contain a substance to make them taste sweet so that we enjoy brushing.  Most toothpastes contain saccharin, aspartame, or xylitol to add a bit of sweetness.

10 – Thickeners

In case the toothpaste is too runny, manufacturers can add ingredients that thicken the toothpaste to form a nice, smooth consistency.  Carageenan and xanthan gum are common thickeners added to toothpastes.

Bonus Ingredients

Those are the main ingredients in toothpaste.  However, some special formulations of toothpaste can include other ingredients such as the ones listed below:

Conclusion

Toothpaste requires many ingredients to work the way it does and to have the appearance and taste that it does.  The ingredients I have listed are those common to toothpaste sold in the United States, however international brands may vary.  If you know of any ingredients I missed or have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear about them below.

Thanks for reading!

Cold Sensitive Teeth
©Jan Mika/Shutterstock.com

Does the thought of eating ice cream or any cold foods make you cringe because you know how bad your teeth will hurt? You could be one of the millions of Americans that suffer from sensitive teeth. While the causes of sensitive teeth can vary, there are some toothpastes that can help alleviate the symptoms.

Ice Cream Sensitive TeethIf your teeth are sensitive and you don’t think that it is caused by reversible or irreversible pulpitis, then you may want to try a toothpaste that is made especially for sensitive teeth.

Toothpastes made for sensitive teeth usually contain two extra ingredients that help decrease painful tooth sensitivity.  These two extra ingredients are:

Potassium Nitrate and Strontium Chloride.

Both of these ingredients work by acting on the dentin tubules.  In order to understand how these ingredients work, I will first give a brief explanation of dentin tubules.

What Are Dentin Tubules?

The dentin tubules are tiny tubes that go from the outside of your teeth (when dentin is exposed to the outside surface, which usually happens with gum recession) to the dental pulp.  If the dentin tubules are openly exposed to the inside of your mouth, then it is easy for sensations to be transferred to the nerves in the dental pulp.

It is this transmission of various stimuli, such as heat, cold, and sweets, that cause the nerves to send the message of pain to your brain.  After all, the only sensation that the dental pulp can send to the brain is the sensation of pain.