Dental Myths - Introduction
If xylitol is so good – why don’t we hear
more about it?
We hope everyone wants the best for us – and at some
level I think this is true. Problems occur when there
are profits, entrenched thoughts, and a status quo that
suits the main players of the game.
Why hasn’t xylitol been embraced by the profession
–why isn’t it a headline in the ADA journal, advertised
on TV, or promoted in dental offices? There’s not much
money in xylitol, the education for xylitol conflicts
with the familiar mantra to brush and floss, and if we
wiped out plaque, cavities, gum disease and cleanings –
we’d upset the status quo of dentistry and the
sponsoring oral care businesses that provide products
that clean, fill and treat our teeth and gums.
Which toothpaste do you use?
There is intense competition in the world of oral care
products and many companies use bad science to promote
their products - or just no science at all. For example,
enamel is not white – it is translucent like glass.
“Whitening” was a brilliant marketing trick to make you
buy products that are more expensive but made with
cheaper ingredients. Whitening and bleaching makes teeth
sensitive – so the same company makes sensitive
toothpaste to rescue your teeth (except it will not fix
the problem –just mask it enough to keep you using the
product until your mouth becomes dry – when they oblige
with dry mouth products to darken your teeth – so you
can bleach them again!).
Another example is the Triclosan in Colgate Total
toothpaste, which is advertised to keep plaque away for
24 hours. No matter what the company claims, I don’t
recommend an estrogen-mimicking hormone – and besides,
we are not trying to denude teeth. A healthy mouth is
populated by hundreds of kinds of bacteria – the
difference is that they must be healthy ones!
Evaluating the science
Another example is a competitor of Listerine who used an
in vitro (lab) study to illustrate why you should not
buy Listerine. It’s not scientific to pour Listerine on
cells in a test tube and claim these results are the
same as seen in the mouth. In vivo (real life) studies
show Listerine does not harm cells.
There is a lot to understand when you go shopping for
toothpaste and mouth rinse - here are some hints for
- Avoid stannous fluoride (a tin-based fluoride
that is toxic to the skin and biofilm needed to
protect teeth and gums)
- Avoid whitening products – look for products
that strengthen and repair
- Glycerin in products can interfere with natural
- Silica in many types of toothpaste is too
- Most xylitol rinses are more acidic than