Brushing and flossing your teeth daily are scientifically proven ways to make sure your teeth and gums stay healthy.
Knowing this, some people still want to do more. Every so often, people on the internet will claim to have found new ways to improve their oral hygiene. Despite what we may want to hear, the quick fixes promised to us online aren’t always true.
Let’s take a look at some of the popular trends today and see if they actually hold up to what they say they can do.
MYTH: Charcoal toothpaste is an effective way to whiten teeth.
Using charcoal toothpaste has become a bit of an Instagram trend over the past year. With promising words from influencers and flashy ads, the claims state that this unusual product can get rid of stains from your teeth, cure bad breath, and remove toxins from your mouth. But does it really work?
Dentists are still unsure about the benefits of charcoal toothpaste, but they are certain about several negative consequences that come with using the black goop.
The main ingredient in this product is activated charcoal. What is activated charcoal you may be asking? Well, it is actually just regular charcoal (made from materials such as wood, petroleum, coal, peat, or coconut shell) that has been heated with gas.
When charcoal is heated, it becomes more porous, which allows the activated charcoal to “trap” chemicals and toxins. This is why activated charcoal is often used in legitimate ways to treat people who suffer from poisoning.
But rubbing activated charcoal on your teeth is a different story.
For one thing, charcoal is an abrasive substance and can wear down your tooth enamel. This can increase chances for bacteria to collect on your teeth. When that happens, you can end up with periodontal disease, plaque build-up, and cavities.
Charcoal toothpaste really becomes a problem when you start using it as a replacement for your standard fluoridated toothpaste.
The toothpaste you use daily needs to have certain levels of fluoride in it so that it can keep your teeth strong and healthy. Most activated charcoal toothpastes do not have enough fluoride to meet these levels, which can lead to serious dental problems.
TRUTH: Charcoal toothpaste is a risky trend to follow with some serious possible consequences. We recommend speaking to your dentist before using such a product. And if whitening is a concern for you, we at Crescent Heights Dental Clinic offer a great at-home whitening system.
MYTH: Tongue scrapers can cure bad breath.
Nobody likes to have bad breath. And when a product comes on the market with promises of an easy fix, people start to listen. Tongue scrapers claim to do just this.
Here’s how they work. By placing a tongue scraper on the back of your tongue and then softly bringing it forward, you are able to scrape off dead cells and other debris, which is known to cause bad breath.
So, does it really work? Well, maybe. There isn’t much conclusive research on the effectiveness of tongue scrapers. However, they are believed to be at least mildly effective at removing build-up on your tongue.
There are some benefits to removing debris on your tongue, and it is a good idea to brush your tongue with your toothbrush while you’re already brushing your teeth.
Some of the benefits include improving your sense of taste, minimising bad breath, and improving the overall appearance of your tongue by making it cleaner.
Unfortunately, even if a tongue scraper is effective for you, if you use it in the morning, its effects will already be gone by later in the day. Bad breath bacteria can actually grow back as quickly as you get rid of it, which is partly why the effectiveness of tongue scrapers is questionable.
There aren’t many negative side effects to using a tongue scraper though. If you scrape too hard, you could end up cutting your tongue. Also, if you place the scraper too far back, you could end up gagging or vomiting.
TRUTH: Although the research is limited, if you find tongue scraping to be a helpful part of your morning routine, then feel free to keep doing it. Just remember that there is no replacement for flossing and brushing with fluoridated toothpaste.
Apple Cider Vinegar
MYTH: Apple cider vinegar can fight tooth decay, cure gum infections, and whiten teeth.
Over the past several years, apple cider vinegar has become wildly popular, often being touted as a cure-all for all sorts of ailments and home improvement uses. But is it also good for your mouth?
Unfortunately, research on these apple cider vinegar claims is limited and has been largely inconclusive. That being said, unlike with tongue scrapers, we recommend not using this product to improve oral hygiene.
Although there is not a lot of scientific research proving the benefits of apple cider vinegar, we do know about its negative effects. Apple cider vinegar has a pH level of 3.075, which makes it more harmful than substances like coffee and stomach acid. Acid has been proven to weaken enamel, which leaves teeth vulnerable to bacteria.
Using apple cider vinegar daily can seriously weaken your teeth. You can also make the situation worse if you brush your teeth right after ingesting the liquid. If you do end up consuming apple cider vinegar, be sure to rinse your mouth with water and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.
Also, never drink apple cider vinegar straight. Make sure to dilute it with at least 5 parts water to 1-part apple cider vinegar. Remember, this is pure vinegar we’re talking about here.
TRUTH: Apple cider vinegar is known to have legitimate health benefits, but its potential positives for oral hygiene are greatly outweighed by its negatives. If you do use apple cider vinegar, be sure to dilute it first and rinse your mouth with water after.