Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Health & Fitness

Brush up on toothpaste facts

Look at all that toothpaste on store shelves: Pastes and gels for cleansing, whitening, detartaring, desensitizing and in child-pleasing tastes. Almost
as many brands and varieties as breakfast cereal.

At Toothpasteworld.com, Michigan dentist and self-professed toothpaste collector Val Kolpakov features hazelnut chocolate-flavored paste from Italy, as well as American-produced bourbon, whiskey, champagne and wine flavors.

But why do we use toothpaste at all?

Is it good for us? What does it do? What is the proper way to use it?

"Toothpaste is not even necessary. It's really not,'' says Dr. Nolan W. Allen, president of the Florida Dental Association.

"It's the motions of the brushing that gives us gingival health and overall oral health,'' the Clearwater dentist says. "Honestly, toothpaste is window dressing."

Not surprisingly, the people at Procter & Gamble, which manufactures Crest and Oral-B, have another view.

Listen to Matt Doyle, who directs P&G's global research and product development, including responsibilities for oral health:

Toothpaste, Doyle says, "fundamentally provides a cleaning mechanism that removes the bacteria and the biofilm, which we refer to as plaque, from the teeth and the adjacent tissues, which we call gums."

The chemical formula of toothpaste provides a material that cleans, coats and protects the teeth, he says. Some formulations provide an antibacterial agent to keep gums healthy or help with sensitivity caused by gum recession normal with aging. (That recession is where we get the phrase "long in the tooth.'')

Like Allen, though, Doyle says brushing is key. He says P&G studies show the average adult brushes an inadequate 20 seconds.

Allen recommends four or five minutes of brushing. But that's not all: Brush in the morning, the dentist says, and at night, floss first, then brush, then swish 30 seconds with an antimicrobial mouthwash.

"And then don't eat or drink anything else. Just go to bed."

But do use some toothpaste? Allen is willing to contradict himself by acknowledging that some toothpaste should be used rather than just the bare brush. He is a proponent of toothpaste that contains fluoride. He advises looking for the American Dental Association seal of approval on the package.

Allen says he treats patients who need tartar-control toothpaste and those who don't. The occasional patient may react adversely to a particular toothpaste formulation.

Manufacturers are "using too much imagination in some of their formulas," Allen contends. He says it's better to get your dentist's advice than to self-diagnose when buying toothpaste.

P&G's Doyle agrees.

"Everyone should be having that conversation with their dentist."

Freelance writer Juli Cragg Hilliard lives in Manatee County. Her Web site is www.julicragghilliard.com.

Toothpaste tips

Dr. Nolan W. Allen, president of the Florida Dental Association, offers these tips:

• See your dentist regularly.

• It's not necessary to brush more than three times a day.

• Use only a thin ribbon of toothpaste. It's wasteful to use more. "Most of it is just rinsed away anyway," Allen says.

Oral health

Matt Doyle, director of global research and product development for Procter & Gamble, says broad research trends in oral health that may affect us include:

• The connection with overall systemic health, such as blood sugar control.

• The link between oral health and preterm labor/low birth weight.

Brush up on toothpaste facts 04/21/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 10:40am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Even with their losing streak extending to five the night before, Rays officials were continuing Tuesday on their same track in trade talks leading up to Monday's deadline seeking a proven reliever and a right-handed bat.

    Looking to buy.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  2. Diaz, Taddeo win easily in special Miami Senate primaries

    Blogs

    Two Miami state Senate candidates who raised and spent the most in their respective primaries — Republican Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Democratic businesswoman Annette Taddeo — notched easy victories in a special election Tuesday night.

    Republican candidate Jose Felix Diaz is surrounded by supporters after he won the primary for Florida’s Senate District 40 race. Democrat Annette Taddeo, right, celebrates her victory with supporter Venus Lovely at BJ’s Restaurant in The Falls.
  3. In live debate, Kriseman and Baker ask St. Pete: Is the city better off?

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Mayoral candidates Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker made their best pitch to voters in front of a live television audience on Tuesday night. The candidates essentially asked this: Is the city better off now than it was four years ago?

    Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker debate in front of a live television audience during the City of St. Petersburg Mayoral Debate at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg on Tuesday evening. The event was sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Romano: It all comes down to sewage in this mayoral race

    Local Government

    Well, poop.

    Nothing else really matters, does it?

    Schools, economic development, public safety? Pfft. The Rays stadium, affordable housing, the pier? Ack. When it comes to the St. Petersburg mayoral election, sewage is the yin, the yang and the yuck.

    At Tuesday’s debate, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman said responsibility lies on him regarding the sewage crisis.
  5. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.