Every morning and night, like clockwork, we follow through with the same old tooth brushing ritual. We run the brush under cold water, glob on some toothpaste and go to town on our pearly whites.
It seems like a worry-free tradition. However, several studies by dental professionals indicated our toothpaste may be causing damage to our teeth, and using less or no toothpaste may even remove more plaque.
According to an article by huffintonpost.com, abusing toothpaste due to a desire for whiter teeth has been a leading cause of tooth damage for decades.
Dr. Thomas Abrahamsen, a leading clinical researcher in the field of dentistry, said patients who abuse toothpaste believe that more brushing will lead to whiter teeth, when in reality, it causes enamel to thin and dentine to get closer to the surface, causing an “overall darker appearance.”
Boston dentist Dr. Valdemar Walz said patients should stop using toothpaste all together.
“Stop using toothpaste and brush with an electric toothbrush and water and then floss,” Welz said, adding, “Don't use toothpaste because almost all toothpastes are abrasive.”
A study by researchers from the Netherlands revealed brushing without toothpaste removes more plaque from the teeth, according to an article by the Health Information Center.
In the study, 36 people used manual toothbrushes and standard toothpaste. They allowed plaque to build for 48 hours, and then the researchers had them brush one side of their mouths with toothpaste, and the other without. After two minutes of brushing, the researchers found using toothpaste reduced plaque by 50 percent, but the side without toothpaste had a 56 percent plaque reduction rate.
The researchers said, “The mechanical action of brushing (moving the brush up and down or sideways) may have been the main factor in determining effectiveness of plaque removal.”
However, the article also stated, “…brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste is recommended by dentists as an important component of good daily dental hygiene and to fortify and strengthen teeth to prevent tooth decay.”
So what’s the answer? Ditch the toothpaste, or continue on with our normal dental rituals?
In the article by Huffington Post, Dr. Nachum Samet, a prosthodontist and director of Restorative Dentistry with the Harvard School of Dentistry, said toothpaste manufacturers should reduce the abrasives in their products, which damage the tooth enamel.
However, Samet also said using toothpaste benefits in fighting cavities and avoiding gum disease, so maybe the wear caused by toothpaste is a “reasonable price.”
If you still feel the need to dab your toothbrush with some kind of product, try using natural toothpaste without harsh abrasives or potentially harmful chemicals.
Toothpastes with less artificial ingredients may cause less damage to teeth while thoroughly cleaning the mouth. So if you’re not convinced “dry brushing” is the way to go, try out a less harmful toothpaste to save the enamel on your teeth and keep the unnatural chemicals out of your mouth.
Reviewed June 17, 2011
Edited by Alison Stanton
Kate Kunkel is a journalism student looking to minor in nutrition at Arizona State University. She currently interns for EmpowHER and has a passion for healthy eating and fitness.
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