Montrose Star interviews trusted dental authority Dr Randy Mitchmore from his Montrose practice called LifeSmiles.
M.S. The grocery shelves are bulging with more and more brands of toothpaste. I get totally confused when I go shopping. Which toothpaste should I buy?
Dr M That is a very common question I get at my office. The toothpaste market is worth billions of dollars each year. I am going to make a very surprising statement: You do not need toothpaste to clean your teeth.
M.S. Why would you say that?
Dr M OK, let me give you the not so secret formula for making toothpaste. I use the acronym SOAP. That stands for Surfactants, Other thickeners, abrasives, and perfume. The surfactants are detergents like sodium laurel sulfate. I find that many people are highly sensitive to this detergent. It is used in many types of cleansers. Especially shampoo and laundry detergent. People that are sensitive to it will have skin breakouts on the face and the waistband where clothes press on the skin. They are shocked when I tell them that their mouth breaks out and the face around the mouth from the sodium laurel sulfate found in most toothpastes. Other thickeners are gums, humectants and glycerin and things to make it bubble or foam. Abrasives are actually kind of dangerous because many of the “whitening” toothpastes are so abrasive they can scratch enamel or porcelain that is used for crowns and veneers. That is like when I was a kid everyone used Comet or Dutch cleanser to clean the sinks and toilets. It was so abrasive it made things look clean but destroyed the glaze on the porcelain and so that it was white but with a dull finish. Finally the all have perfumes and sweeteners to mask the yucky taste of the gums, soap and humectants. So the reality is that none of those ingredients are considered “active”. They just put on a show. The foam and bubbles don’t clean anything. The only active ingredient that really does any good is when fluoride is added. It prevents cavities.
M.S. So if you really don’t need commercial toothpaste to clean your teeth, what is the deal?
Dr M What is more important than the toothpaste is the toothBRUSH.
M.S. I thought they were all about the same so I just buy my favorite color.
Dr M. These days all toothbrushes are made out of a nylon bristle. The only difference between and soft, medium or hard bristle is the diameter of each little bristle. The hard bristle is thicker so it does not bend easily. The soft bristle is very narrow so it bends easily and feels soft. That’s it! I want the little bristle to go up under the gums and in between the teeth. So the smaller – thus softer- the bristle, the better it is at getting the plaque and biofilms cleaned from the teeth. And that is what is really important! Now here is an important part. The better brushes have polished rounded edges on the bristle. Those cost more to make and the brushes are priced a bit more. They are worth it.
M.S. So what do you use?
Dr M I do use a toothpaste because it tastes good and has fluoride but no sodium laurel sulfate called Cloysis I also use a Sonicare power electric tooth brush. I also occasionally make a homemade paste out of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and a very tiny pinch of salt. That really helps kill the bacteria and will actually whiten the teeth without hurting the enamel or porcelain. It is really pretty simple. I use a tiny porcelain dish that only holds a teaspoon or two. Just start with some baking soda and a few grains of salt. Add enough hydrogen peroxide to make a thick slurry or paste.
M.S. I read a Dr Oz recommendation of using lemon juice to clean and whiten your teeth. Would you use that?
Dr M I am a Dr Oz fan but I strongly disagree with him on that! Please don’t suck on lemons or use lemon juice on the teeth. It is highly acidic and will actually etch the tooth enamel! It will look frosty white alright but is severely eroded and damaged.
Dr Mitchmore is active in the community. He serves as Vice-Chairman of the Monstrose Management District. His passion is Dentistry. He has also been a City Councilman and Chairman of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry’s Charitable Foundation, Give Back A Smile. The foundation helps survivors of intimate partner abuse regain their smile.