I’m due for my regular cleaning and checkup with my Elgin dentist next month. To be totally honest, these things don’t always go so well for me. They usually tell me I need to brush better and the aftermath of the cleanings makes it look like there was a small war because of all the blood. I’m not squeamish and I know I need to do better, but life gets busy and then my plans always seem to fall apart. In any case, I just saw an ad for a new kind of toothpaste that’s supposed to fix bleeding gums and I’m wondering if this is the kind of thing my Elgin dentist will start to recommend. If so, I’ll just run out and get it now… I’m hopeful it will make a difference in how my next visit goes.
It sounds like you’re referring to parodontax, a company that has been marketing pretty aggressively lately. Let’s pick apart what their claims are, and you can decide for yourself if it will be of benefit, rather than waiting for the opinion of your Elgin dentist.
Their site claims:
Bleeding gums are one of the first signs of a gum problem. Gum problems can be caused by the accumulation of plaque. If left unaddressed, this may eventually lead to tooth loss. Brush your teeth twice daily with parodontax® Daily Fluoride toothpaste for overall oral care and to help improve the health of bleeding gums.
Their information is factual. If your gums are irritated from the buildup of plaque, they’ll eventually start to bleed. This is known as gingivitis, and it’s the starting stage of periodontal disease. If you leave it untreated, your gums will start to pull away from the teeth, leaving space for debris to become impacted and creating a space for infections to form. So, if you can catch this in the early stages and prevent your bleeding gums, that’s what you want to do. Here’s the first catch, though, brushing twice a day with virtually anything can improve and prevent gum disease. Their main tagline says nothing unique about the brand.
The ingredients are:
Sodium Bicarbonate, Purified Water, Glycerol, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Rhatany Tincture, Cornmint Oil, Peppermint Oil, Coneflower (Echinacea) expressed Juice, Xanthan Gum, Myrrh Tincture, Tincture of Chamomile, Sodium Fluoride, Oil of Sage, Saccharin Sodium, Red Iron Oxide Colour. Contains maximum 1000 ppm of available fluoride when packed.
Looking at the ingredients, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is a common ingredient in “natural” toothpastes because it can help scrub away stains. That’s normal, but here’s where it gets a little dicey: Rhatany Tincture. It’s an herbal remedy for gingivitis. The FDA doesn’t back any claims about it, but it’s generally believed to be effective because it’s a vasoconstrictor. In other words, it shrinks your veins and can stop blood flow. So, if it “works” and you stop bleeding, it may not be because you’ve healed your gums and removed plaque. It could well be your body responding to the tincture, in which case, you’re only masking the symptoms of your gum disease. Most of the other ingredients are used as painkillers in natural medicine.
Pretty terrifying, right? Even if you don’t correct your problems, you could mask the pain and bleeding associated with gingivitis and think you’re healthier, when really, you’re not. A pack of menthol cigarettes could do the same thing- nicotine is a vasoconstrictor too, and then menthol could work like the cornmint oil, peppermint oil, and echinacea. The difference is, you’ll never hear a doctor telling you to grab a pack of cigarettes to treat your gum disease. Obviously, there is a health benefit to this toothpaste and it’s not deadly, but the benefit is the fact that you’d be brushing. And, if seeing “improvement” makes you brush more often, then that’s a good thing. You’ll be treating your gum disease, too. On the other hand, a lot of this is smoke and mirrors and if your gum disease is caused by something not related to lack of brushing/ hygiene, such as an underlying medical condition, you may never know it because you’ve hidden the symptoms. Find ways to encourage yourself to brush and floss more and talk to your dentist about other contributing factors in gum disease if brushing and flossing are not enough to eliminate your symptoms.
This blog is sponsored by Elgin dentist, Dr. Steve Sirin.