A-mazing. Simply amazing. That is what I thought when I took a look at one of my patient’s mouth today. It wasn’t something I expected to happen after interviewing the patient.
You see amongst many other things I always ask the patient if he uses fluoride toothpaste. This patient didn’t. And the reason for not using fluoride was a fear of the side effects and the fact that he has never had decay. He was 36 years old. I was sceptical of course. I was certain what I was going to find. If you have read my post Anti-Patients you know what it is. If you haven’t and you are about to click the link, do scroll down to the paragraph Anti-Fuoride when you get there.
So today I was certain that I was going to find decay. At least the early stages of it. Or dental erosion. And I was prepared to go through the routine of informing the patient about the consequences of not using the fluoride toothpaste.
But. A big but. The teeth were in immaculate condition. No plaque, only tiny amount of tartar and definitely no decay. No matter how hard I tried to find even the smallest evidence of it – of the patient being fool not to use fluoride. But he was no fool. Far from it. He had good eating and oral hygiene habits and he attended the dentist regularly. That made him very wise.
Both me and the patient had the same question in our minds. Why isn’t there a toothpaste which contains only calcium for the patients like this one. They don’t need fluoride. Would calcium be enough? But then again, do they need toothpaste at all?
And for those not using the fluoride toothpaste by choice, remember that it really is one in a thousand that will get away with it. Most people will get problems with decay or dental erosion.
I just read a very good article about a new ingredient in toothpaste that will save the teeth of many people. I must say I am normally sceptical about these kinds of releases in the field of dental hygiene products as it is not rocket science when it comes to keeping your teeth healthy. Really!
If you are a healthy individual and you
brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
clean between the teeth most nights (no-one is perfect – apart from me as I do it meticulously every night)
maintain healthy eating habits (eating 5-6 times per day including the snacks)
don’t drink anything else than water/plain coffee/tea between the meals/snacks
Then you do not get decay. But having said that remember that your teeth won’t suffer from the odd relapse of the routine and good habits. Celebrations, night out, traveling normally mess up the routines and that’s fine. No worries. Your teeth won’t decay because of them as long as you get back to the routines again.
And because it is as simple as this I have found that the news of groundbreaking techniques/bristles in toothbrushes or breakthrough ingredients in toothpastes/mouthwashes are simply ways of marketing for the dental hygiene product manufacturers.
Today it was this toothpaste. With an ingredient that will slowly release calcium, phosphate and fluoride ions. All those that are lost from the enamel of the tooth when we eat or drink something with carbohydrates.
By the way, I never speak about sugar as it is misleading – people tend to think that e.g. bread does not cause decay as it doesn’t have sugar in it (well some do, but you get my point I hope). But it has carbohydrates and if the bread is eaten as a snack many times a day, the bacteria will metabolise the carbohydrates to acid many times a day. And the acids will remove minerals from the enamel of the tooth.
When I began reading the news I said to myself
Just give it a chance… for once just read it through!
And I did. And I found my excitement getting bigger. And bigger. Finally something that might improve the oral hygiene of the ones that are not responsible for decaying of their teeth like children or people suffering from extreme dryness of the mouth.
While I was reading I heard a voice in my head criticising me for being always so sceptical about the dental hygiene products. I started to think that maybe I have missed something important over the years when I have not given a chance for this sort of news.
But then. I began to read the last sentence:
A fluoride free version of xxxxxx is also being developed for individuals who do not want or need fluoride toothpaste.
Somebody-pulled-the-plug-feeling. Then anger.
Once again a new innovation is motivated by profit. Or perhaps there was a genuine desire to find something that would be “The Product” for the sufferers of the decay. But when it became groundbreaking innovation it immediately made it a product with high profit potential. And if you have read my previous post about integrity in dentistry you understand that it is the greed that is orchestrating this release of the toothpaste. No matter how good the initial intentions were.
A Fluoride Free Version? Are You Serious?
I read through many articles about this new ingredient and all of them had one thing in common.
The slow release of fluoride has been identified to be particularly beneficial in prevention of tooth decay.
This sentence in the same article with my previous quote. Do I need to say more? I don’t think so but I will.
I will break down the first quote.
…for individuals who do not want…
Of course there are people who do not want to use fluoride toothpaste. I have written about them in my another previous post Anti-Patients. But these are the ones who need our guidance in this matter. What they don’t need is another sign from the dental professionals that it is ok to use a fluoride free toothpaste. When it is not.
…for individuals who do not… … need to use fluoride toothpaste.
Excuse me? Do they mean the people who have dentures or mouth full of implants and no teeth at all? They must have as I haven’t met any individual with natural teeth who do not need fluoride toothpaste. But then again if they have meant these people with dentures and implants why would they use this toothpaste anyway?
I am just simply and utterly annoyed and ashamed of the motives of some of the dental professionals. With just one sentence that is spreading in the internet fast and far they made lives of good and honest dentists, hygienists and nurses more difficult when they try to convince patients to use fluoride toothpaste.
The toothpaste manufacturers must be now competing bitterly to get their new toothpaste with this groundbreaking ingredient in the market first. The one that wins this competition is the one that probably paid the most to the company that developed this ingredient.
You would think that they would make enough money just by making fluoride toothpaste as majority of people do use it. But that is so very typical for dentistry – to squeeze out every dollar/pound/euro (or whatever) you can from an opportunity.
Money, profit, creed. A triangle of shame.
When will there be a dental hygiene product line that looks out the consumer’s best interest and is based on the advices of dental professionals? Effective enough electric toothbrush, soap-free fluoride toothpaste (soap is there just for because people think the foam makes it more effective), effective floss and interdental brushes (well there is already one of both, click here to find out which).
In the past and currently there are dental hygiene products that are made for what patient’s are looking for
a cheap electric toothbrush (battery operated)
toothpaste that will deal with all the problems in mouth in one go and it makes mouth full of foam too
good tasting and easy to use floss/tape in a fancy looking package
This confuses the consumers as all these products are advertised as if they were very effective. They are not effective in cleaning the teeth and they are just big companies’ way of maximising the profit when they reach all the needs of all different types of people.
I am tempted to write little bit about new models of the manual toothbrushes that the manufacturers bring out every year with massive advertisement campaigns. I am amused every time I see toothbrush ad on tv. It’s just a manual toothbrush for god’s sake. How much can you do developing for it? It has a handle and bristles. That’s all.
Here’s a link to one of the articles about this new ingredient (for those who do not know what on earth I am on about).