I’ve spent the last year having a “holistic” dentist fix damage that I’ve come to understand was caused by my well-meaning traditional dentist.
I went to the holistic dentist out of desperation after my root canal became infected for a second time and I was tired of having it re-root-canalled by dentists who insisted this and my new cavities every week were all pretty normal age-related issues… when I could tell that it was all wrong.
So what is a Holistic Dentist?
My holistic dentist is a licensed DDS. In fact she practiced for many years as a “normal” dentist, until she says she started to get really sick. Dentists inhale the fumes from the materials they are working on in our mouths. She came to believe that traditional dental materials were making her sick. That’s when she went and earned accreditation at something called the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology.
She then switched her focus to “holistic” dentistry which focuses on “whole body health and wellness” rather than just cosmetic fixes to teeth. She now does all of her dentistry without mercury amalgam or fluoride and TBH she also recommends treatments that I’m still deeply skeptical about such as dry body brushing and oil pulling.
The Science Behind Toothpaste
I like to think of myself as pro-science. I prefer to do things that are evidence-based and I traditionally cringe when I hear words like “holistic” or “naturopathic” but the results of this change in dental perspective are overwhelming. I can’t deny them.
The research in this area is sadly lacking but one thing that’s easy to see from a science-minded consumer point of view is that the toothpaste industry adds all kinds unnecessary products to their toothpaste: and they don’t have supportive research either. No one really knows what all of those ingredients are doing to our teeth.
I located one study on pubmed that found treatments with carbamide peroxide, carbopol, and glycerin decreased the microhardness of enamel and dentin fragments over time. Essentially I take this to mean these products soften our teeth whether they are strong, demineralized, or rinsed in saliva. “Opalescence 10%, carbamide peroxide, carbopol, glycerin and their associations may change the microhardness of sound and demineralized dental tissues, even in the presence of artificial saliva.”
I also found references to Dr. Gerard F. Judd, Phd a “chemist and fluoride researcher” who maintains that glycerine and fluoride are causing cavities, and the research of Dr. Westin Price DDS who had interesting things to say about dentistry in the 1940’s. Unfortunately those two doctors do not have the most overwhelmingly credible claims, and much of their research actually disagrees with each other. (Dr. Price put heavy emphasis on diet for dental health while Dr. Judd claims that sugar doesn’t matter at all) Hardly an overwhelming scientific consensus on the evils of glycerine, SLS, and fluoride.
What we do know is why many of these ingredients are added: to increase foaming, boost flavor without sugar, as cheap fillers, and as preservatives. Many of the ingredients in toothpaste such as sodium laryl sulfate are added to boost the customer’s experience with buying and using the toothpaste, not based on any science that says they’re good for teeth.
In the end I concluded that I needed a simpler toothpaste and maybe it isn’t really necessary to understand exactly which ingredient in my old toothpastes were the problem. In light of the fact that my (admittedly anecdotal) experience went from constant horrible pain and expensive dental work to being A-okay, it is enough for me to know that there are a lot of ingredients commonly used which have little or no research showing how they effect dental enamel and dentin.
I threw my traditional toothpaste and mouthwash in the trash.
For a while I was using pure baking soda – and my teeth got really sensitive. That’s how I learned that pure baking soda is too abrasive to use as a daily toothpaste and will wear away your tooth enamel. It’s fine maybe once a week but don’t do what I did.
I’ve settled on these three toothpastes
#1. Tooth Builder Sensitive Toothpaste
This stuff was recommended by my holistic dentist to get me back on track after I made my teeth too sensitive by using pure baking soda. It’s become my go-to because the texture and sensation is the most like what I used to think of as “normal toothpaste” but without all the mint flavor. It just tastes sweet but with no added flavor. Kind of like cotton candy. That’s because it’s sweetened with xylitol which is a natural sweetener that tastes remarkably like sugar (seriously why don’t people use this instead of stevia?) but also kills mouth bacteria and strengthens tooth enamel.
#2. My Magic Mud
I reach for my magic mud when I feel like whitening my teeth a bit. I have both the tooth paste and the tooth powder. It’s made out of activated charcoal and clay which whitens teeth without any of the bleaching agents that traditional whitening toothpastes use. It definitely looks like mud but it actually tastes good and has a decent mouthfeel to it when using it.
#3. Redmond Earth Paste
Earth paste only has like 4 ingredients; clay, salt, essential oils, and xylitol. It was the first toothpaste I switched to after throwing my old ones in the trash and it definitely improved my mouth over time. But fair warning it does not feel anything like you’re used to calling toothpaste, and it builds up in the bottom of the sink and needs to be cleaned fairly often. If you’re looking for the best high quality toothpaste with very few ingredients this is the stuff – but it’s hard to get over just how different it is.
I hope this helps you make an informed decision to change your dental care regimen. Thanks for reading and have a marvelous Monday!