I have noticed it is very easy for a health care professional to get annoyed about different things by just browsing through dental forums and discussion sections of dental news.
This time it was the toothpaste.
Especially the toothpastes of certain big brand that promise all sorts of things but have side effects the representatives sweep under the carpet by saying casually
It’s perfectly safe to use
Yeah, peeling off the mucosa in your mouth is normal. I wouldn’t be so sure. Especially with the patients who have a sensitive mouth.
The salesmen of the manufacturers of oral hygiene products would sell their granny to promote their products. They can tell a fib or even lie to your face without loosing a good night’s sleep. All they want to achieve is that you will start to recommend their products. This is enhanced by giving the practices boxes and boxes of free samples which I have written about in my previous post Can you trust the recommendations given to you by a dental professional?
Are We Fooled by the Representatives and Adverts?
I remember an occasion when a representative of this big company came to my practice to introduce new products. These new all-in-one toothpastes. There were many different toothpastes in the same product family. One for everyone even though the first all-in-one toothpaste introduced not so long before these new ones was supposed to be the one to deal with e-v-e-r-y problem one could have. Slightly confusing I think.
Anyway, the rep went through these new toothpastes and recommended the sensitive version also for the sufferers of dry mouth. Then on the next sentence she mentioned that this sensitive toothpaste contains zinc…
Rather boring session got my interest immediately. Dry mouth and zinc? You got to be kidding me?
We dental professionals know our business. Every detail of it. Well at least I hope most of us do. Despite this I have noticed that many dental professionals are fooled by these selling speeches representatives give and do not notice that the things coming out of their mouths are simply bogus.
So I looked around to see if anyone else was looking puzzled? If anyone was about to say something? No, not a chance. They were just leaning back on their chairs with empty eyes staring at the products. But I couldn’t keep quiet. I never really have learned to keep my thoughts to myself especially if somebody is talking nonsense.
So I raised my hand to get a say (and I swear I could see my colleague roll her eyes meaning here we go again). The rep looked surprised.
Me: Did you say this toothpaste is for people with dry mouth?
Rep: Yes I did.
Me: And it has zinc in it?
Rep: Yes it has.
Me: But the zinc associated with dry mouth, isn’t it? It can make the dry mouth worse.
Rep: Err, I must say I do not have an answer for you now. But let me get back to you on that. What’s your e-mail address? I’ll find out and send you an e-mail as soon as possible.
A typical diversion from the subject. About month later I received an e-mail which said:
I remember you asked something about the sensitive toothpaste. Care to clarify what was you specific question? All the toothpastes are well researched and tested. They are widely recommended by the dentists. Bla-bla-bla…
Knowing Your Business in Depth
Now I must tell you that I did not know that zinc in toothpaste can be a culprit to dry mouth until another rep of another big oral hygiene product manufacturer (wouldn’t it be easier if I just told you which company?!) told me so couple of years ago.
I had recently tested their toothpaste for halitosis and got extremely dry mouth (honestly, I thought I will die of thirst between brushing my teeth and reaching the office in the morning). When I asked the rep about it she said that it could be due to the zinc in the toothpaste and asked me to file an adverse event report. She even gave me the document to fill in.
I was impressed. Not about the Sahara-Desert-in-mouth toothpaste but about the honest rep who could tell me something I didn’t know.
Since then it’s not been just once or twice that I have found out that my patient who is suffering from a dry mouth is using a toothpaste containing zinc.
The dentistry is constantly evolving. It is hard to keep up to it but we must. It is the only way we can give the correct advice to the patients.
It just occurred to me that I might be taking the visits of the representatives of oral hygiene products the wrong way. Perhaps it is accustomed way to let the reps babble away without questioning what they are saying. Am I considered to be rude to interrupt them when they are just trying to do their job? Should I just sit in silence when they are clearly not on the right path?
Perhaps, but I’m afraid it won’t happen in the near future. Or never. You see, isn’t it so that the annoying sides of one’s personality is only enhanced when one gets older?
Anyway. Be cautious of the advertising speeches of the reps. Read scientific studies about the ingredients and then make up your own mind if you will recommend certain products. Try them yourself and pay attention to how your mouth responds.
My advice for the patients is to use a toothpaste that feels good in their mouth. If the toothpaste burns, stings, makes your mouth numb or if you experience any other uncomfortable feeling STOP USING IT.