Testing the Natural Alternatives

Lately, many people have been trending towards the natural substitutes of everyday items, such as toothpaste. As a dental hygienist, it’s important to test such products that may be recommended to patients. There are many toothpastes available that are fluoride-free or made with all natural ingredients. Tom’s of Maine, for example, if you don’t want fluoride, or the product that I have been trying- Boka.

I received a promotional shipment through an app that encourages healthy lifestyles. In the box I received was a toothbrush made with charcoal, thick floss, and all-natural toothpaste. I was excited to try the toothbrush, since there has been so much hype about charcoal. So let’s start there.

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The toothbrush is visually appealing, which is a big factor in promoting products. The company claims to use charcoal bristles to keep them sterile. Seems fine to me. I liked the toothbrush, but the stiffness of the bristles were too hard for my gums. I have recession from dramatic movement of my teeth with braces, and an important factor to consider is bristle stiffness. The harder the bristles are, the more likely you are to get recession and wear away the teeth. In practice, I wouldn’t recommend this toothbrush for anyone that brushes too hard. (You know you’re brushing too hard when your bristles fray)

In regards to the floss, it is a thicker strand and waxed. I liked that it was waxed to be able to pick up more of what was getting stuck in my mouth. HOWEVER, healthy gums are snug around the teeth and have shallow probing depth. With a thicker floss, it is difficult to get all the way down into the gums to pull the bacteria out. I wouldn’t recommend this floss unless the patient had wider gaps in between their teeth.

And now for the toothpaste.

There is a ton of controversy over fluoride. However, the reasoning this company gives for not including it in their toothpaste is sub-par. While reading through their toothpaste promotion, I found that there are many contradictions against them self as well as insufficient explanations. It is frustrating as a health professional to see such things that inappropriately educate the public in a biased way.

All frustrations aside, I was pretty excited to use the toothpaste and explore the how natural and fluoride-free toothpastes work. I used it for a few months every time I brushed my teeth. I discarded the toothbrush after  while, adhering to guidelines of when to change your toothbrush, and using my Sonicare Diamond electric toothbrush.

The other day, I decided to give myself a cleaning- which is difficult trying to maneuver instruments while using a mirror to see another mirror. Upon doing so, I found calculus buildup as was as significant generalized bleeding. Not bleeding here and there, but a LOT of bleeding all around. I am religious about my oral care, and such characteristics should not be present in my mouth. I also found a few white spots on my back teeth. Such spots are a tell-tale sign of the beginnings of a cavity. Luckily, if you can catch it early, it can be reversed.

Fluoride helps to protect the teeth from such white spots happening. It keeps the enamel strong and provides great protection to people that have either dry mouth or a habit of constantly eating or drinking things such as tea or coffee. It is harmless systemically. For something bad to happen, you would have to deliberately eat many tubes of toothpaste. In regards to children, they should always be watched when brushing their teeth to ensure effective care as well as preventing them from swallowing their toothpaste.

In regards to other ingredients in non-natural toothpastes, there has been years upon years of work to create toothpastes that provide optimal care. In toothpastes that have plaque control, the paste provides a cleaning that attacks bacteria to prevent them from eating away at the gums.

For someone who is so picky about their oral care, I would not recommend these products to patients unless they were adamant about fluoride-free and natural toothpastes, especially if their home care was insufficient.

When buying oral care products, ask your hygienist and dentist about what they recommend. And keep an open mind! Be open to suggestions and professional education, maybe do your own research to discuss with them. Oral care professionals want the best for you and they will be more than willing to work with you!

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