Toothpastes over-promise and under-deliver‚ study finds

14 March 2018 - 13:03 By Claire Keeton
Brushing Teeth.
Brushing Teeth.
Image: subbotina /

Don’t count on toothpaste to stop dental erosion or hypersensitivity to hot or cold food or drink.

A new Swiss study has found that of none of nine toothpastes tested protected enamel or prevented erosion.

Following a healthy diet and having regular dental treatment are the most reliable ways to avoid cavities and problems related to exposure of dentin — the substance that forms the bulk of a tooth — the specialists said.

Dental erosion and dentin hypersensitivity are increasingly common‚ leading to an explosion in brands of toothpastes claiming to treat these problems.

These toothpastes don’t seem to deliver the results promised. “All of the tested toothpastes caused different amounts of enamel surface loss‚ and none of the toothpastes afforded protection against enamel erosion and abrasion‚” said the first author Samira Helena João-Souza.

The University of Bern in Switzerland and the São Paulo's School of Dentistry in Brazil conducted the research‚ published in Scientific Reports on Wednesday.

The authors of the study emphasised that the toothpastes were useful but that “they should be used as a complement‚ not as a treatment‚ strictly speaking”.

João-Souza said at least three factors were needed for healthy teeth: treatment prescribed by a dentist‚ use of an appropriate toothpaste and a change in lifestyle‚ especially diet.

Co-author Ana Cecília Corrêa Aranha said numerous patients arrived at clinics complaining of cavities and tooth decay.

“But actually‚ the problem is caused by dentin exposure due to improper brushing with a very abrasive toothpaste‚ for example‚ combined with frequent consumption of large amounts of acidic foods and beverages‚” she said.

Ahead of World Oral Health Day on March 20‚ the South African Dental Association said: “Oral conditions‚ such as tooth decay [dental caries]‚ gum disease and oral cancer are among the most common and widespread diseases of humankind.

“Dental caries in children are five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever‚” said spokesman Khanyi Makwakwa‚ stressing that oral disease was largely preventable.