Should You Give Up Toothpaste?
by Dr. Clark Hammock, DMD, Dentistry of the Carolinas
I’m often asked by my patients if toothpaste is even needed. We’ve all heard about how grandma used to brush her teeth with baking soda or other household substitutes. Aren’t the bristles from a quality toothbrush and a good flossing enough? Actually – no, they’re not.
While indeed, the effectiveness of brushing and flossing are the most important factor – including proper angle of the bristles, brush stroke, time spent brushing, and reaching all of the surface areas of the teeth including the difficult to reach areas – toothpaste offers an effective and worthwhile supplement to the mechanics of brushing and flossing.
Quality toothpastes contain fluoride to strengthen the tooth structure. They also serve as a dentifrice, meaning they offer some abrasive quality to help remove plaque and tarter that has started to attach to the tooth structure. However, caution should be exercised as there are some toothpastes that can be too abrasive and should only be used periodically.
Any toothpaste recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA) will be your best bet. In conjunction with effective brushing techniques and daily flossing, these products really do help reduce tooth decay and you just can’t beat that minty fresh feeling. For those who harbor concerns over the presence of artificial ingredients, including sweeteners in toothpaste, there are more “holistic” options available – many that still have the fluoride and abrasives which help toothpaste do its job.