If you walk into the supermarket and look at the range of toothpastes for sale, you will most likely find nestled amongst the conventional and more commonly recognised brands of toothpastes, a fast-growing range of herbal or natural toothpastes.
At Boutique Dental Care, we have noticed that more brands and varieties of herbal and natural toothpastes are beginning to pop up.
Even at our local natural health food store, there seems to have been a surge in the number of new brands entering the market.
But it wasn’t until a patient asked, “Are natural toothpastes okay to use?”, that we realised that maybe more people are wondering the same question.
That is why the team at Boutique Dental Care have decided to write this article to find out the answer:
“Are natural and herbal toothpastes are okay to use?”
So, in this article we will begin by looking at why we use toothpaste. We will then see what the research has to say about natural and herbal toothpastes. And finally, we will look at the major difference between natural and herbal toothpastes and your conventional toothpastes because we have noticed a difference!
But before we go too far… we should add that when we talk about conventional toothpastes, we are referring to major commercial brands of toothpastes, and are generally considered market leaders.
On the other hand, when we refer to herbal or natural toothpastes, they are the ones which are commonly independently owned and often advertise themselves as being either ‘natural’, ‘organic’, ‘plant-based’ or ‘chemical free’.
Do you need to use toothpaste?
Yes, at Boutique Dental Care, we recommend that when you brush your teeth that you use toothpaste. But it isn’t just us making that recommendation. It is also a recommendation made by the Australian Dental Association!
So, why do we recommend that you use toothpaste?
It is because toothpaste plays an important role in helping to control plaque and bacteria in your mouth, which in turn helps to reduce your risk of dental diseases – such as gum disease and dental decay.
When it comes to controlling plaque and bacteria in your mouth there are two main ways.
A proven and effective way is through what we call mechanical removal. Mechanical removal of plaque includes toothbrushing and flossing for example. It is where we physically disrupt the bacteria and plaque biofilm which coats the mouth.
The second way to control, or to enhance the mechanical removal of plaque, is through what we call chemical control. And this is an example of where toothpaste comes in.
Toothpaste helps in the delivery of therapeutic ingredients or to help kill, prevent or inhibit plaque formation.
So, toothpaste does more than just giving us that ‘fresh clean feeling’ or that ‘minty-fresh breath’ that we feel after we brush our teeth.
Now back to our original question.
Are natural and herbal toothpastes okay to use?
To find out the answer we did some research. And we found that there have been many studies which have looked at the effectiveness of herbal toothpastes and have compared them against the conventional toothpastes.
Yet it is worth noting that these are overseas studies and some of the herbal or natural toothpastes in these studies are not available in Australia.
So, what did the research find?
Well, one study we looked at found that they can be just as effective as conventional toothpastes in controlling or reducing the bacteria in the mouth. Another study found that they can reduce gum inflammation and reduce plaque. And a further study found that they are also effective in reducing the salivary levels of glucose and improving salivary pH which play an important role in maintain oral health.
Interestingly researchers also found that herbal toothpastes which have multiple herbal ingredients has been found to be more efficient than herbal toothpastes with fewer herbal ingredients.
Overall, these all seem to be quite positive findings. Yet, it is difficult to know whether it is the toothpaste which is having this effect, or if it is the physical and mechanical act of brushing the teeth.
So then, what about conventional toothpastes?
Well, natural and herbal toothpastes rely predominantly on essential oils for therapeutic benefits. And as you may expect, conventional toothpastes contain added ingredients, such as humectants, binders, detergents, flavours, and preservatives for example.
The reason that they are used and added into toothpaste is because they have added antibacterial properties, which have been proven to be effective against decay-causing bacteria.
Additionally, the use of these agents or ingredients in toothpastes further helps in controlling and reducing plaque and gingivitis.
BUT like we said at the start of this article, when it comes to the difference between natural and herbal toothpastes and conventional toothpastes, there is one!
Natural and herbal toothpastes very rarely contain FLUORIDE! Whereas the majority of conventional toothpastes do contain fluoride.
Now you may be thinking “Is that a big deal? It’s just fluoride…”. But yes, at Boutique Dental Care, we think that it is!
Research has suggested that while herbal or natural toothpastes may be as effective as non-herbal toothpaste they are NOT superior to toothpastes which contain fluoride.
Now this is important because there are a few reasons why we recommend using a fluoride-containing toothpaste. Fluoride plays an important role in helping to strengthen developing teeth when we are young. It also helps to remineralise our teeth and to protect the teeth, as it makes them more resistant to acid attacks.
So fluoride helps to reduce your risk of dental decay, or as they are commonly called, holes in your teeth!
But what does this mean about your dental health and your oral hygiene regime?
At Boutique Dental Care, we aren’t going to tell you want to use, or not to use. Our goal is to simply make sure that you have all the information available to be able to make an informed decision about your dental and oral health.
But we would recommend that if you are considering changing to a natural or herbal based toothpaste that you speak to your oral health professional first.
That way they can work out your risk factors for dental disease and give you tailored advice specific to your dental health needs. Which can help to reduce any nasty surprises later on!
Also, if you are thinking of changing your entire family or household, to a natural or herbal toothpaste, make sure you speak to your oral health professional first as well. This is particularly important for children.
As if your child’s teeth are still developing, they could be at greater risk of dental decay if fluoride-containing toothpaste is not used while their teeth are undergoing the mineralisation process of development.
We hope the information has been helpful and that you now have a greater understanding of the role of toothpaste.
While it seems that natural and herbal toothpastes are safe, choosing a conventional brand of toothpastes means that there are added benefits and agents helping to reduce or prevent your risk of dental disease. Especially, when you are choosing a toothpaste which contains fluoride!
And don’t forget the role that mechanical plaque removal (i.e. toothbrushing) has to play in conjunction with toothpaste!
Make sure that you continue to brush well for 2-minutes, as mechanical plaque removal is an effective and proven may to reduce plaque and bacteria in your mouth.
Before we say our goodbyes, we should add that if you do find yourself confused, or daunted, the next time you are confronted by the large and growing array of oral hygiene products, then just look for the Australian Dental Association ADA Seal of Approval!
As the ADA Seal of Approval means that the product has been tested and meets their strict standard. So you can rest assured that you are in safe hands.
From all the team at Boutique Dental Care, thank you for reading this article.
If you have would like any further information or advice then please do not hesitate to contact the practice on (02) 9054 5281, to make an appointment with one of our friendly team. We look forward to hearing from you soon!
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