After a visit to the dentist in which she was told her teeth were full of cavities again, despite her best efforts at brushing and flossing, Helaina Hovitz was a loss and sought out a second opinion. Based on a recommendation from her father she sought out Dr. Gross and he helped out Helaina by explaining the underlying problem in her mouth, high acidity. His informative diagnosis and recommendations led her to write an article for Vice Impact, Vice’s ‘issue-oriented advocacy platform.’ Where they bring up all matters of real world problems and provide insightful dialogue and awareness to their readers. She writes about how many of the products she was using to try and improve her oral hygiene may have actually been making the problems worse. It is an issue that is a very familiar problem to our own Dr. Lewis Gross.
The issue is that many of the ingredients in commercial toothpastes and mouthwashes are ineffective long-term solutions at best and dangerous at worst. For many people, a rinse with an alcohol-based and astringent mouthwash is a step towards a clean and minty-fresh mouth. While in a short term the fragrances and flavorings in it will leave you smelling and tasting minty, the effects wear off and you may be worse off than before using it. The burning sensation that accompanies the alcohol in these mouthwashes and toothpastes in one is viewed by many as a sign that it’s working. It’s actually a bad sign though; these types of mouthwashes are killing all the bacteria in your mouth, good with the bad, and drying out your gums which makes bad breath even worse. The real key to fighting bad breath is restoring the balance of the bacteria, rather than killing them all.
Other additives, like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate which has been should to be an irritant and Diethanolamine which has a long list of negative effects in testing. The worst of the bunch is Triclosan, which has been shown to have adverse effects not just to people and animals but the environment as well. She recommends that we take a page out of the European Union’s book and put stricter guidelines and more information on what substances are allowed in products that we put in our mouths. We require this for all kinds of other products, how far has tobacco regulation or food label requirements come in the last decade? It’s seems fair that we should expect the same for products that we are counting on to promote our oral health.
While Dr. Gross and others are proponents of alternate products like Alka-White, our natural alkaline whitening mouthwash, you may still be weighing converting to these products. So in the meantime, she urges, look closely at the labels and ingredients and educate yourself about what you’re putting in your body; avoid artificial colorings and flavors while opting for more natural ingredients.