We’ve all seen the commercials: “4 out of 5 dentists recommend _______ toothpaste.” The problem is, just about every single toothpaste brand out there says that four out of five dentists recommend their toothpaste. That math doesn’t seem to add up. Are these four dentists going around recommending every toothpaste, willy-nilly? What’s the fine print? Here’s the truth about those toothpaste ads and the kinds of toothpaste that dentists really recommend.
Which four dentists?
When toothpaste advertisements, or advertisements for other products like mouthwashes or whitening strips for that matter, contain the statement “4 out of 5 dentists recommend,” there usually is a disclaimer after an asterisk with tiny print. It says something along the lines of “of dentists sampled.” What this means is that of the dentists that the company asked, four of the five said they would recommend the toothpaste. But this doesn’t tell you how many dentists they asked total, whether the number was an average they rounded up—perhaps from 3.5 dentists—whether the dentists surveyed work for the company, or if they were provided with free products in return for their review.
Companies can manipulate their sample size so that it provides them with the answer they want to advertise, throwing out the rest of the data, which makes it not statistically significant, and not definitive proof of the quality of their toothpaste. “4 out of 5 dentists” statements do not mean that 80 percent of dentists endorse this particular product, but that’s what this phrasing is intended to make customers believe. Also, companies provide dentists with products like toothpaste and toothbrushes—think about the free toothbrush you get every time you see the dentist—for their participation in the survey. Not to mention that the statement doesn’t indicate that dentists recommend this product over other similar products, or exclusively, or that in practice, the dentists mentioned actually recommend it to their patients.
Which toothpaste should I use?
In general, dentists are more likely to specify the type of toothpaste you should use, rather than the exact brand and formula. And these recommendations are, naturally, going to depend on your specific needs.
In general terms, dentists recommend fluoride toothpaste for adults, as fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel and prevent decay. For young children, who are prone to swallowing toothpaste, brushing haphazardly, and disliking strong, burning, mint flavors, there are specifically formulated children’s toothpastes. If you have sensitive teeth, you may require a toothpaste formulated to reduce sensitivity—though you should check with your dentist if you’re having sensitivity, as it might be a sign of a greater problem.
One type of toothpaste we don’t recommend: toothpaste containing clay or other “natural” abrasives. These products are often too abrasive and can strip teeth of enamel. If you’re interested in a green or natural toothpaste, definitely consult with your dentist to find one that won’t cause more harm than good.
Most other toothpaste on the market are going to meet that general requirement of containing fluoride, so from there, toothpaste choice can be a matter of personal preference. If you’re not sure though, ask us what toothpaste we recommend for your specific needs the next time you come in for a cleaning!
Time for a checkup? Set up an appointment today with Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry!
Americans place a lot of value on their smiles. In the past few years, cosmetic whitening has gained a lot of popularity, and at-home whitening products are now one of the most frequently-used beauty products in the country. They’re easy to get ahold of, they’re simple to use, they don’t cost a lot of money, and they really work. But are these whitening products safe for your teeth? There has been some controversy regarding the safety of some home teeth whitening products, and at Creason & Weber Family Dentistry, we’d like to get the answers out there, so you can rest assured that you and your teeth are safe.
So, are they okay for your teeth?
If used as directed, over-the-counter teeth whitening products are perfectly safe for your teeth. Most types use a formula from hydrogen peroxide that lifts stains from coffee, smoking, and tea from the exterior of your teeth. As long as you don’t overdo the whitening, and you follow the directions, you will safely see results relatively quickly.
Can they damage your enamel?
We get this question a lot, and generally speaking, the answer is no. While everything that you eat can slowly break down your enamel, there’s no proof that shows at-home whitening products increase this damage in any way.
It is best to stay away from any whitening product containing chlorine dioxide, as it is acidic and can do more damage to your teeth than other products. We recommend instead that you use a product with hydrogen peroxide.
Do I need to talk to my dentist?
It’s a very good idea to talk to your dentist before you start using even over-the-counter whitening products. He or she will know if you have any outstanding conditions that might prevent you from using them. In some cases, those with sensitive teeth are recommended to avoid these sorts of products, and if you have certain issues like cavities, or caps, a dentist may advise you against whitening. Additionally, pregnant and nursing mothers should not use over-the-counter whiteners for precautionary health reasons.
What else should I know about teeth whitening?
It’s very important that you follow teeth whitening instructions exactly. Overuse of whitening products can lead to extreme tooth sensitivity, and if you don’t ask your dentist before you start the whitening process, there can be some side effects if you had a cavity or outstanding dental health issue.
As long as you use at-home whitening products as directed, you should see a brighter smile in no time! And of course if you would prefer a professional whitening instead, that’s always an option. It doesn’t take much time, and you only have to do it once to see immediate results.
If you’re thinking about an in-office whitening, give Creason & Weber Family Dentistry a call! We are currently accepting new patients, and we use the top-of-the-line Zoom! Whitening procedure to ensure that our patients see exactly the results they want. Give us a call at (616) 842-0822 or contact us online today!