tooth paste advice dentist in edinburgh

Alternative Toothpastes – Do They Really Work?

In recent times we have seen an influx of new alternative tooth pastes on the market.

With social media marketing at an all-time high in popularity many celebrities and social media influencers are taking to these platforms to promote a variety of alternative and ‘natural’ tooth pastes, making claims of teeth that have never felt so clean or looked so white.  But is there any truth or evidence to their claims? This blog will weigh in the effectiveness of these tooth pastes and take a close look at some ingredients that are being marketed to improve your smile and oral health.



The abrasiveness of charcoal can help remove stains that lye on the tooth surface such as tobacco or coffee stain. Charcoal can also help raise the pH in your mouth which can help neutralise the acids that cause decay. However, the abrasive nature of charcoal can also cause permanent damage and wear to your tooth enamel. Charcoal tooth pastes can also cause stain to crowns and veneers. If you’re looking for a brighter smile you could consider using a whitening fluoride tooth paste (which is discussed below) or chat with your dentist/ hygienist about other cosmetic options, including professional whitening or Airflow stain removal.
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Sea Salt Tooth Paste

A key ingredient in salt toothpaste is sodium chloride, aka table salt. The salt works as a gentle abrasive, helping to remove stains from the teeth. Some salt toothpaste also contain baking soda, which is another type of salt (sodium bicarbonate). Salt can help your teeth and gums in a few ways. First, salt helps stimulate the production of saliva in the mouth, saliva contains several minerals that help strengthen the enamel on the teeth, including phosphate and calcium. The increased flow of saliva can help protect the teeth from acids and bacteria that cause decay. Salt can also help reduce inflammation and swelling in the gums, thus minimizing gingivitis symptoms


Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has recently become very popular in the health realm, being hyped as a wonder oil for cooking and in beauty products. A few years ago Gwyneth Paltrow tipped us off on the benefits of oil pulling (a technique that involves gargling coconut oil for up to 20 minutes at a time),  but has putting coconut oil in our tooth pastes taken matters one step too far? The research on coconut oil tooth paste is minimal and inconclusive. Although coconut oil has been shown to help prevent and treat oral candida infections (better known as thrush), whether it will reduce cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth is still in question. Some small studies suggest its antibacterial ability helps reduce plaque and gingivitis, but more research is needed for a solid conclusion
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Where you need to be careful is that sea salt, charcoal and coconut oil tooth pastes are often fluoride free (fluoride itself is a type of salt). Because fluoride plays a big role in helping prevent cavities by strengthening teeth and rebuilding enamel, you are best to ensure you tooth paste has fluoride.


‘Fluoride Free’- Often Branded as Natural Tooth Pastes

Although non fluoridated tooth pastes may leave you with a fresh mouth feeling they do not have any of the benefits of preventing tooth decay. Non-fluoridated toothpastes use natural ingredients such as hydrated silica, cranberry extract and xylitol to prevent the adhesion of bacteria to teeth and remove plaque. However there is little evidence proving any beneficial anti caries effects to the teeth.


Whitening Tooth Pastes

Unlike professional whitening products whitening tooth paste doesn’t contain any peroxide, therefore it cannot change the natural colour of the teeth or lighten stain that runs deeper than the tooth surface. They work by removing stains that sit on the surface of teeth such as coffee, tea and tobacco stains, this is achieved by special abrasives that gently polish the teeth and chemicals that help break down or dissolve stains.  So if you have a notable stain building up from food/drink or smoking these could help reduce the stain, however prolonged and regular use can eventually wear your enamel away and once its gone, it gone! Consider using the toothpaste with a tooth brush with soft or ‘sensitive’ bristles, or use the tooth paste once every other day or alternate with normal tooth paste. For quick and easy stain removal discuss with your dentist/hygienist professional stain removal options that can be offered at your practice such as Airflow polishing systems.


Fluoride Tooth Pastes

Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in water sources and certain foods.  It helps to strengthen teeth and make them more resistant to acids that contribute to decay by speeding up the process of remineralization process. Fluoride also helps disrupt dental plaque which is one of the main causative factors associated with gum disease.  The benefits of fluoridated tooth paste are experience through topical use- not through indigestion; you should use an amount as detailed on your tooth paste or if you are unsure ask your dentist/dental therapist.
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For any advice on tooth paste do not hesitate to ask at your next dental/hygiene appointment, but always check the ingredients before purchase to make sure the paste contains fluoride!


If you would like to book an appointment to visit our dentists or hygienists in Edinburgh, please call 0131 225 7576.


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