Oh those ‘here we go again’ articles
There must be one or two times a day when you think, “Here we go again. . .”
“Doctor, I found an article on the internet that. . .”
For better and worse, we are in the internet age: along with the astonishing ability to connect and discover and learn comes the flip side: so-called “scientific studies” proclaiming a breakthrough, nay-sayers in search of fame casting doubt on solid foundations, Fake News. It could be a very long list.
An uptick in legit and not-so-legit articles concerning toothpaste followed a 2016 announcement by the Food and Drug Administration about triclosan. The FDA banned the substance in soaps and body washes because it hadn’t been proved effective or safe for long-term use, but toothpaste was not included in the action. Colgate Total is the only toothpaste to include triclosan, and the company defends its use as effective in fighting plaque germs.
And, of course, the use of fluoride – a staple in toothpaste and national water supplies – continues to generate heated debate.
Against that backdrop, a plethora of articles – legitimate and otherwise – continue to circulate about “natural” toothpaste and other alternative products. It’s a subject a few of your patients no doubt have raised.
Self magazine carried a run-down of “alternative” toothpastes, including charcoal (Curapox Black is White toothpaste, $30 a tube); two different types of clay – bentonite and kaolin; coconut oil; sea salts, and wasabi (Lush Ultrablast Tooth Powder). Yes, wasabi, which contains isothiocyanate, a compound that one Japanese researcher believes “inhibits the growth of cavity forming bacteria.”
Prevention magazine also added some products by name to its article on alternative toothpastes but noted that manufacturers – not independent researchers – made the claims about their product’s abilities to fight biofilm or strengthen tooth enamel. One product, Theodent, is made from “rennou,” touted as a natural fluoride alternative derived from cocoa beans. While imbedding links in the article for the reader to buy various products, Self did point out that different products have – or didn’t have – actual dental benefits, such as fighting bacteria or promoting whitening. It also noted that “none” of the products had been studied and approved by the American Dental Association.
“If an alt toothpaste doesn’t have that (ADA) seal, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. It does mean that the research behind the ingredients is probably a bit lacking,” the magazine stated.
And therein is the rub: while these products probably aren’t harmful, they may not provide actual benefit either. Will that caveat carry weight with your patients looking to try something new? It’s a conversation you should continue, for the health of your patients.
Photo by Eva-Katalin/istockphoto.com.
The views expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily the opinions of the Chicago Dental Society.
CDS presents Front Desk, a column addressing issues facing dentists and staff members experience in the office.
Front Desk is prepared by Stephanie Sisk, a freelance journalist.