Fluoride, clove, mint, neem, salt, calcium – all these and more goodies are being panned by various global toothpaste manufactures as unique product ingredients that put the sparkle back in your teeth and the health into your gums.
But do you really need any of them? Here's a brush-up on the amazing facts!
My neighbor sent her domestic help, Elina (18), to a dental clinic to do something about her broken brown teeth. The dentist made a snap diagnosis: Severe Endemic Fluorosis. Elina used toothpaste which is rich in fluoride.
We were surprised. Have not we always been told that fluoride fights tooth decay? Especially in glossy magazines?
“Americans and West Europeans tend to see fluoride as synonymous with dental care,” says a surgeon surgeon and specialist in oral medicine. “However, a few suggests that fluoride is a double-edged sword.” The optimum level of fluoride is one part per million. Studies suggest that fluorosed teeth are less susceptible to caries and children predisposed to tooth decay can be treated professionally with sodium fluoride applications by way of gels, drops and mouth rinses. However, more fluoride can be worse than less. Excessive fluoride can be life-threatening and can cause severe deformation of teeth, bone structures and nerve tissues – because the water has to be de-fluoridated . ”
What's more, fluoride has a shelf life after which it starts decomposing and, since no toothpaste carries an expiry date, it is dubious that the fluoride in the tube you buy is effective at all.
There is another caveat. No child who may eat or swallow toothpaste should be allowed to use a fluoridated one. “This can be dangerous,” emphasizes says specialist, “as in larger doses fluoride can harm the liver, spleen, heart, brain and lead to degeneration of the bones”. A few governments have asked manufacturers of fluoridated toothpastes to display the message: “Not recommended for children below seven years.”
FROTH AND SPIEL
Any fluoride appears to have been given the brush-off by most indigenous manufacturers. On the other hand, the market is frothing over with toothpastes, dental creams and gels containing all kinds of other goodies – clove, mint, neem, salt, calcium – all of which will boost your dental health in one way or the other. However, doctors and dentists are not impressed. “It's all so much hype,” says specialist. “None of these additions, not even the one created by dentist, not the one with a secret ingredient, improve their effectiveness or distinguishing one from the other. The clove oil (which is grandma's panacea for an aching tooth) or babool (ditto for bleeding gums) are so low in content that there is no therapeutic effect whatever.
Calcium is another psychological ploy. Every toothpaste contains calcium di-phosphate, so the new entrant claiming calcium as its unique ingredient just states the obvious to an unknowing public. According to specialist: “You already have enough of ionic calcium in your diet, which your teeth absorb from your saliva. You do not really need any more in your toothpaste. Eat nuts and cheese instead!” (Is that why people who are proud of their smiles say “cheese”?)
To prove this point, you can drink a sweet fizzy drink. Now, this will make your teeth tingle. The carbonic acid in the drink will remove some of the calcium from your teeth. Now, rinse out your mouth with calcium-rich milk. And, presto, your teeth will feel fine again.
Here's something more to bite your teeth into …
A study reported in The British Medical Journal found that brushing your teeth with water is as good as brushing them with toothpaste. Specialist concurs. “Toothpaste is not essential for cleaning the teeth and the act of brushing is more important than the agent – just as you can have a clean bath with water and a good scrubbing. gives you only oral gratification. In the old days people used neem leaves, neem sticks, charcoal and sand. , what-have-you. You may use a smidge or a large patch on your toothbrush (Incidentally, the amount shown in ads is too large as a lot of frothing actually hampers cleaning). count, not the kind or quantity of toothpaste. ”
What's important is that you use a soft brush in a circular motion from your gums to your teeth, immediately before going to bed and after breakfast. Rinse your mouth thoroughly after each meal and get into the habit of using dental floss.
A baby should be taught to brush its teeth – in imitation of you – without any toothpaste. When it is old enough to understand that toothpaste is not meant to be swallowed, you can use mild-flavored toothpaste, without fluoride – without your water supply is deficient in fluoride.
A cavity results from food debris accumulating on your teeth and attracting bacteria which produce acid. This acid bores a hole in your teeth, which which more food debris accumulates. Thus a vicious circle begins. It's not your toothpaste that strengthens your enamel or fights tooth decay. What does the trick is proper brushing, rinsing, flossing and a sensible diet that includes milk products, meat, pulses, crisp green vegetables, fibrous foods and chewy fruit. These increases saliva flow which keeps your mouth clean by washing away food particles. According to specialist, saliva also helps to neutralize acids and kill bacteria. Again, toothpaste can not protect your gums; you need to massage them daily with your bare fingers.
WHAT ABOUT BAD BREATH?
Toothpaste can never ever drive away bad breath, serve double duty as a mouth-wash or make you kissable. “Bad breath is a complex term and is used loosely for nay odor emanating from the mouth,” explains specialist. “An unpleasant odor can result from an infection of the nose, sinuses, throat, lungs or stomach. For example, have you noticed how no amount of brushing will remove the tell-0tale reek of garlic, onions or alcohol? That's because odors from These substances are excreted by your lungs.So, too, an upset stomach manifests itself in bad breath. Executives in hid-pressure jobs often suffer from dry mouth or reduced salivary flow which also causes a malodorous mouth. must find out the cause; toothpaste may only help to mask the symptom temporarily. Correct brushing and using dental floss to remove accumulated plaque and tartar will help.
Toothpastes which are provided to remove ugly stains caused by caffeine or nicotine are extremely harmful. They not only wipe away splotches but also wear away the protective layer of enamel which can not be re-formed as it has no cells. Polishes which are meant to make your teeth pearly-white contain rough abrasives and acids; continuous use not only scrubs away every trace of enamel, but exposures the inner layer of your teeth (dentin) which is yellow. So, if your teeth feel fuzzy, are blotched or dingy, visit your dentist instead for a cleaning, bleaching or bonding with a resin.
Special toothpaste is only needed in case of teeth which are extra-sensitive to hot, cold, sweet or sour, because the outer layer of the enamel has been corroded. These toothpastes have a base of formalin, strontium fluoride or potassium nitrate which helps by blocking nerve endings.
But, by far the worst, most harmful, toothpastes in the market are the tobacco pastes which masquerade as toothpastes and are freely available at your friendly neighborhood grocer's shop – and also at several chemists. They contain nicotine which, besides being addictive, has been found to be carcinogenic by the Cancer Research Center. Dentists come down heavily on them because a few countries suffer from the highest incidence of oral cancers in the world; 40 percent of our cancers are oral.