Dental products you buy at the store may not be helping you…at all.

Dental products you buy at the store may not be helping you…at all

 

I recently returned from a week-long continuing education course in Seattle, WA, given by Dr. John Kois: one of the more brilliant dentists in the country. He presented some research and information that I thought you, as our patient, would appreciate knowing. It concerns the products many of us buy at Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, etc. Some of these oral care products can actually do harm to some patients with certain diseases. So take notes, and make some changes on your grocery list the next time you run out of toothpaste or mouthwash.

Determine Your Toothpaste and Mouthwash Goals

First, ask yourself why you use the toothpaste or mouth rinse you use. Is it because of the taste, because of the nice commercials on TV, because Costco sells it in a bulk pack for cheap? Or is it because your dentist recommended it? I’ll be honest, I was practicing for some time and didn’t understand the toothpaste I and my family was actually doing more harm than good (Crest Prohealth). Because I liked it, I was recommending it to my patients; not because there was science behind it showing it worked to combat disease, but because it tasted good. I’ve since learned this is not the best way to practice medicine. The oral products you use and spend your hard earned money on should improve your oral health, not make it worse and there should be data behind those claims. There are some products out there that leave me very confused as to why companies make them. All this deals with one major issue about oral disease; pH.

Understanding pH and Why it’s So Important

Secondly, we have to understand pH and what it means to our oral health. PH is a scale that measures how acidic or how basic something is. A pH of 7 is neutral, neither acidic nor basic; pure distilled water has a pH of 7.0. Stomach acid has a pH of 2.0. Battery acid has a pH 1.0. This scale is not linear however. Even though battery acid is 1.0 and stomach acid is 2.0, battery acid is actually 10 times as acidic as stomach acid. Each single digit increase or decrease in the scale is actually an increase or decrease by a power of 10. So compared to a pH of 7.0, stomach acid is 100,000 times as acidic. We are learning the important role of the mouth’s pH in relation to oral disease; I’m not going to say we completely understand it, but we have made some much needed progress. The bacteria that cause decay, or caries disease, produce acid and flourish in acidic environments. Teeth start to dissolve in acid with a pH of 5.2. So, the more acidic your mouth, the higher risk you have of getting cavities.

Avoiding Acidic Toothpaste and Mouthrinse

Almost everything we eat that is nutritious is acidic; fruits, vegetable, juices, etc. So we are constantly introducing acid into our mouths, giving the disease causing bacteria not only sugars to eat, but also creating an acidic environment for them to thrive in. The oral care products we use should help us neutralize these acid attacks, but sadly, mostly don’t. For example, Crest ProHealth mouth rinse has a pH of 4.38. What?! Teeth start to dissolve at ph 5.2 and Crest Prohealth is 10 times as acidic?! That is madness. What about an organic/natural mouth rinse you can buy at Lucky’s or Whole Foods, such as Tom’s of Maine Wicked Fresh Mouthwash? It has a pH of 3.30. It’s actually one of the worst out there.

Do you really think (I’m speaking to the companies that make this stuff) that having patients rinse their mouth with acid and then go sleep for 8 hours is the best thing for their oral health? It certainly is not. I have patients who seem to get cavities every year I see them, no matter how much they brush or floss. Many of you reading this may feel the same way. Well, has your dentist sat down with you to try to figure it out or does he/she just say “You need to brush and floss better”? You can brush and floss all you want, but if your mouth is too acidic, you’re probably going to get cavities and keep getting them until your mouth pH changes.

Dr. Taylor’s Recommended Oral Care Products

So what can you do? There is actually a very easy solution to this and I think it will help everyone: don’t rinse your mouth with acid. Below you will find a list of products I recommend with their associated pH values. Some are prescription, but the others you can find at the grocery store or online. Here you go:Recommended Products pH chart

 

Notice that all of these rinses are ABOVE a pH of 7.0, or, in other words, they are basic. Rinsing with these will help neutralize the acid in your mouth and will decrease your risk of dental decay. As a general rule, I tell my patients, “Here are your choices. If it’s not on this list, I don’t want you to use it. If you have something not on this list and love it, bring it to me and I will test its pH myself and let you know if you should use it or not.” It’s that simple. Now, excuse me, I ate three delicious chocolates while writing this and need to rinse my mouth with ACT. See you soon.

Next to come…toothpastes. (I know, exciting right?)

-Dr. Taylor

 

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