The Lowdown on Dental Fads

The Lowdown on Dental Fads

Dec 01, 2020

Everyone would love to have a dazzling flawless smile. People spend thousands to get that Insta-worthy, picture-perfect smile. In their pursuit of a perfect smile, many people look to dental fads that sometimes seem too good to be true.

The internet is buzzing with different “at-home solutions” to solve certain dental problems with minimal effort and money. Most people find these hacks hard to ignore as they are often “natural”and don’t require you to break the bank to get them.

Most of these fads are harmless, and while they may not help, they certainly won’t hurt. However, you shouldbe cautious of some of these fads which can end up causing more harm than good.Sometimes, they will end up costing you more in the long-run.

We’ve done a roundup of some of the dental fads currently making rounds on the internet.

Oil Pulling

This is one of the oldest dental hacks that has been used for nearly three millennia. The idea behind this ancient practice is that if you swish a food-grade oil such as coconut, sesame, or olive oil, you will cleanse and whiten the teeth. It is believed that the bacteria found in the mouth and gut get trapped in the oil. So theoretically, when you spit the oil out, your mouth is bacteria-free.

Unfortunately, there have been no scientific studies that prove oil pulling reduces the overall amount of oral bacteria, whitens teeth or prevents cavities. However, there is evidence that oil pulling can have some benefits for your gums. Some oils, such as coconut oil, are natural anti- inflammatories. So, oil pulling can help sooth irritation or pain associated with gingival inflammation or mouth sores such as canker sores. So while, oil pulling won’t cure your canker sores or your gingivitis/ periodontitis, it can temporarily help ease the discomfort.

The bottom line: Oil pulling is in no way a substitute for brushing, flossing, or routine dental care.

Rinsing Your Mouth With Hydrogen Peroxide

If you have ever checked the ingredients of teeth-whitening products, you will see hydrogen peroxide as one of the key ingredients. Some people have taken to rinsing with hydrogen peroxide with the hopes that it will whiten their teeth in a similar fashion to drug store or professional whitening sytesms. Unfortunately, rinsing with hydrogen peroxide will not get you the same results.

The hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide found in professional whitening systems is much more concentrated than your average OTC hydrogen peroxide solution. Whitening products contain as much as 35% carbamide vs generic drug-store hydrogen peroxide which is only 3% hydrogen peroxide. Also, designated whitening systems are formulated as a paste or gel which is designed to adhere to teeth, which gives the active ingredients more time to be effective.

Rinsing with hydrogen peroxide does come with some risks as well. If ingested, diluted hydrogen peroxide can cause mild stomach pain and vomiting. It can also cause irritation of the gums and intraoral tissues.

The bottom line: Rinsing with hydrogen peroxide is likely not going to get you the dazzling white smile that you are looking for. Stick to an over the counter whitening kit, or professional whitening system.

Using Fluoride-Free Products 

Some consumers have shied away from using fluoridated toothpastes in an effort to use “natural” products. However, these consumers are missing out on the proven benefits of fluoride in cavity prevention. It’s important to remember that fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral! It’s nature’s cavity fighter!

The use of fluoride has been instrumental in the dramatic drop in tooth decay and cavity occurrence that has taken place over the last 50 years. Fluoride helps protect your teeth from the acid that is released when bacteria breakdown that foods that you consume. Fluoride makes your tooth enamel stronger and less likely to suffer acid damage as well as it can reverse the early stages of acid damage by remineralizing areas where enamel has started to breakdown.

The bottom line: Go for the fluoride. Fluoride is the most important ingredient to look for when choosing a toothpaste.

Using Charcoal Toothpaste  

This is one of the newest dental fads out there, it is suddenly everythwere. Fans of charcoal toothpaste claim that it whitens teeth and freshens breath better than any other toothpaste. Activated charcoal is a form of carbon that’s been treated to make the surface of it’s particles more porous. In theory, all of those little pores in the activated charcoal act as magnets for other particles (stains, tartar, bacteria and viruses) which are then rinsed away with the charcoal.

However, studies have show that activated charcoal does not provide any cavity protection and infact can do damage to your teeth, your gums, and your dental restorations. Charcoal is very abrasive. It is in fact this abrasive quality which does allow charcoal to be good at removing surface staining. However it can be a little bit too good. Using charcoal as an abrasive for whitening can also cause destruction and removal of the surface enamel, which is what gives teeth their white color. The dentin layer which lies directly underneath enamel is yellow in color. So as the charcoal wears away and your enamel, you are more likely to eventually notice some yellowing of the teeth as more of the dentin is visible under thinning enamel.The abrasiveness of charcoal can also cause increase wear on your dental restorations causing chipping of fillings and porcelain.

The small charcoal particles can also irriate the gingiva causes redness and inflammation. Sometimes particles of charcoal can become lodged in between teeth causing localized periodontal pocketing.

The bottom line: Charcoal toothpaste does not contain any special ingredients that prevent you from getting cavities. It will remove surface staining giving your teeth a whiter appearance, but it does not equate to a professional whitening and should not be used frequently to avoid wear on your enamel.

Lemon Juice or Strawberries and Baking Soda

Baking soda can remove stains from teeth, including those caused by coffee, wine and smoking. There are those who say that adding lemon juice or strawberries to the baking sodamakes it even more effective. The problem is that lemon juice and strawberries contain acid, citric acid and ascorbic acid, respectively, that are harmful to the enamel on your teeth. Acids are what cause enamel erosion and what cause cavities to form on your teeth. The acids in lemons and strawberries have a pH of about 2.3(on a scale from 1 to 14) which makes them very acidic. While mixing the lemon juice or strawberries with baking sodawill reduce the acidity, they can still be harmful depending on what the pH of that final mixture is.

Mixing these acids with baking soda creates another concern. Once the teeth become exposed to acids, the enamel is left slightly weakend. If you brush your teeth with baking soda, immediately following the exposure to acid, your teeth are even more prone to enamel erosion as the enamel is weakend.

Bottom line: Skip the acids, stick to a fluoridated tooth paste with occasional use of plain baking soda to polish surface stains.

In Closing

Always stick to what has been tried and tested and be cautious of any shortcuts. If you have questions or any dental needs, contact Dr. Amber James and the team at Trinity Dental Loft.

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