Toothpaste is NOT a waste of time!

A recent review paper about to be published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology by a group of investigators from Amsterdam found that toothbrushing alone may be as effective as toothbrushing with toothpaste in terms of plaque removal. This is not unexpected since the mechanical action of toothbrushing has for centuries been known to be an effective means of removing dental plaque and food debris. However, there is more to it than this. Plaque removal alone is only part of the toothbrushing process. Dental professionals encourage the use of toothpaste as it carries a whole range of active ingredients which protect the teeth and gums: fluorides to strengthen the teeth against the ravages of dental decay agents which reduce tooth sensitivity anti-bacterial agents which kill bacteria in plaque In addition to these benefits, for which there is abundant evidence, toothpaste use can help with: stain removal breath freshening making the mouth feel cleaner and healthier The paper is an interesting review of the available evidence and a useful addition to the scientific literature on oral hygiene habits but it does not mean that toothpaste is a waste of time and money. The British Society of Periodontology advises that toothbrushing should include the use of toothpaste as it has multiple actions and benefits which were not investigated in this review. Reference: Valkenburg, C., Slot D.E., Bakker E., Van der Weijden F. (2016) Does dentifrice use help to remove plaque? A systematic review. Journal of Clinical Periodontology (in press); doi: 10.1111/jcpe.12615

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