How effective and healthy are natural herbal and charcoal toothpastes?

How effective and healthy are natural herbal and charcoal toothpastes?
Herbal toothpaste and toothbrush for your beautiful smile

With the big buzz around natural ingredients and the health benefits of herbal remedies and essential oils, it seems obvious to put the newly activated charcoal tooth whiteners and herbal toothpastes on offer into our shopping baskets as well.

Press pause though – just as fruit is a fabulous part of your diet, but a potentially troublesome one for your teeth, you need to check which toothpastes and whitening treatments have really been proven effective and safe for your teeth and gums before you start brushing away!

Are herbal toothpastes effective for cleaning teeth and gums?

Herbal toothpastes are showing great signs of being at least as effective in reducing plaque and gingivitis as regular toothpastes. However, some caution needs to be exercised, as as studies of these toothpastes often only compare one or two herbal toothpastes or their active ingredients, or are much too small to be conclusive yet.

That said, many of the herbal toothpastes’ active ingredients are full of promise as antibacterial and therefore helpful for potential gum problems, and if you swallow a little toothpaste, they are likely to be quite safe. It is the brushing action of your toothbrush that removes most plaque, and the herbal flavours are gentler and could also be beneficial to your gums in other ways, so these choices should be safe and healthy, even if there are no proven special advantages.

Are herbal toothpastes healthier and do they taste better than normal toothpaste?

Herbal toothpastes are often milder in flavour than other toothpastes with artificial flavourings, and it is usually great for your overall health if you can avoid artificial colours and flavours. Remember to check ingredients lists if you have any allergies, as some herbal or natural toothpastes contain bee products.

If you are hoping for all-natural ingredients, read the label carefully. The fact that a toothpaste manufacturer has flagged natural herbal ingredients doesn’t mean they have avoided using artificial flavourings, preservative and colourings as well!

Are there any concerns about using herbal toothpastes?

The only major area for concern is that herbal toothpastes often don’t contain fluoride, which is important for hardening enamel and preventing tooth decay. You can check the label and discuss your toothpaste selection with your dentist if you have any concerns.

While fluoride quantities should be treated with caution for young children (see our post on children’s oral hygiene for more details on selecting appropriate toothpastes), it is important to get some additional fluoride into your oral hygiene routine for strong tooth enamel.

Herbal toothpastes containing lemon or other natural whitening can be discussed with your dentist to see if this is the most appropriate way to whiten your teeth.

Are activated charcoal toothpastes or home-made bicarbonate of soda toothpastes good for your teeth?

Charcoal toothpaste and home-made toothpastes using bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) are best avoided. Fine charcoal and can accumulate in small cracks in teeth or crowns and stain them.

When used as a tooth whitening treatment, charcoal and bicarbonate of soda toothpaste do not penetrate to deeper layers like a professional treatment, so the effect is temporary at best. Their natural abrasiveness can also mean damage to the enamel layer, leaving your teeth potentially yellower in the long term and with tooth sensitivity, because when enamel gets worn thin, the inner layer of the teeth becomes exposed.

If you are thinking of switching to a new toothpaste for health or environmental reasons, try bringing your new toothpaste brand along to your next appointee with your Loock dentist (preferably with the packaging), so that they can advise on whether this new brand will really leave you smiling or not!

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Marguerite MacRobert

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