Wacky dental trends are nowhere near a new thing. In fact, if you were born a few hundred years earlier, you’d brush your teeth with rough linen and wash your mouth out by chewing fennel. While in some cases the cultural phenomenon of going natural can make sense, toothpaste might not be one of them. In fact, a natural toothpaste called “The Dirt” would like you to be really natural.
Although it may not hurt to put dirt in your mouth, it probably won’t do much in cavity prevention. Yet some natural toothpaste could actually be harmful. In today’s world of misinformation, we’re giving you all the information you need before going out and purchasing gardening fertilizer.
Charcoal for Your Mouth?
Though there are some pretty out-there toothpaste alternatives, skeptics may be surprised to hear that some can successfully remove plaque and reduce bacteria in the mouth, therefore preventing cavities. Charcoal toothpaste, for example, can neutralize acids that can wear down enamel and cause tooth decay over time. It can also be abrasive enough to remove stains. Unfortunately, though, that same abrasive quality can rub off areas of enamel, weakening your tooth’s defenses. If you have crowns or porcelain veneers, charcoal can scratch the surface.
If you’re hoping to whiten your teeth safely, professional whitening is a much more effective solution, whitening teeth up to eight shades after one appointment.
Bentonite Clay, Sea Salt, or Cinnamon?
Bentonite clay is an antibacterial agent that works similarly to charcoal, raising the pH of your mouth and providing the necessary abrasiveness to remove plaque. Unlike charcoal, bentonite clay isn’t abrasive enough to scratch enamel, so it’s a much safer option. Sea salt can also function to eliminate acids, which makes it a common ingredient in many “DIY” toothpastes.
Other alternatives are just snake oil. Baking soda has been touted by many naturalist to be a perfect substitute to fluoride containing toothpastes. While it does help to pull plaque from teeth, baking soda by itself does little to reduce cavity-causing bacteria. In some cases, it can even encourage cavities.
Though large amounts of cinnamon is known to be anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory, in large amounts, it can actually burn gum tissue if used too frequently or in strong concentrations.
Why Dentists Suggest Fluoride
In the past decade, fluoride has been getting a bad rap. From fear that water fluoridation is a government plot to hijack the minds of its citizens to worries about fluoride crystallizing the pineal gland, there is a lot of misinformation. The truth is that there are mountains of evidence suggesting that fluoride is incredible effective at fighting cavities and gum disease. While it can be toxic in large amounts, for the average adult, it is incredibly safe. But remember: don’t swallow toothpaste. It’s a topical treatment, like a skin cream or lip balm, not intended for ingestion.