In an age of ‘life-hacks’ and Insta-fads, it can be tricky to navigate the plethora of health information online, especially when you are bombarded with convincing celebrity endorsements and daily social media hype. Wellness trends are one such tricky crossroad in online health advice. One source may say one thing, whilst others claim something else entirely. This is especially true for the following five health fads. Whilst their health benefits might be widely published about, a lot of the information available has overlooked how these fads might be affecting our teeth. So, we decided to take a deeper look at these healthcare trends, looking at their supposed benefits and the risks they might pose to our pearly whites!
1. Charcoal toothpaste
Social media over the last year or so has seen a huge trend for charcoal teeth whitening products, with many a video claiming miraculous before and after stories. However, are they safe to use or could they be posing a risk to your teeth?
Some people who have used these products may claim that their teeth appear whiter and less stained, however, these products have not been tested widely and their effectiveness has not been seen yet in the long-term. Whilst they might brighten your teeth, long-term use could cause damage to your enamel and overall oral health. They also don’t contain enough fluoride in them to protect you from gum disease and tooth decay.
The take-home message should be this: charcoal toothpaste should not replace your regular fluoride-toothpaste. They may be effective in removing surface stains, but they should not be used as a regular teeth whitening regimen, and if they are used, you should brush very gently to avoid wearing down your enamel and used only occasionally.
2. Oil pulling
This is an ancient Ayurvedic technique that claims to clean and whiten the teeth by swilling a tablespoon of sesame or coconut oil around your mouth for 20 minutes. By swilling this oil around your mouth, the idea is that the bacteria residing here are dissolved and washed away by the oil.
Some of the positive claims about oil pulling for your teeth are that it can help to prevent gingivitis in the short-term, it can remove cavity-causing bacteria, it might help reduce the symptoms of oral thrush and it can help to beat bad breath.
However, what oil pulling cannot do – despite many claims – is to whiten your teeth. Whilst it might reduce the appearance of teeth stains, it’s no more effective in whitening your teeth than if you were to just swish water around your mouth.
If you are still tempted to try this fad out, make sure you continue to brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, floss regularly and avoid replacing any mainstream dental habits altogether with largely untested techniques, such as this one.
3. Water and lemon juice
Although this combination can be helpful to boost your vitamin C intake and make your cold slightly more bearable, drinking lemon juice regularly can put your teeth at risk. Lemon juice is very acidic and as such, it can be very abrasive on your teeth, damaging your enamel and exposing your teeth to the risks of gum disease and decay. However, if you really can’t resist this combination, you can drink it through a straw instead to help protect your teeth.
4. Apple cider vinegar shots
Some celebrities swear by its detoxing and weight-loss capabilities. However, vinegar erodes your enamel which exposes the yellow dentin layer beneath. So, not only can vinegar damage your teeth, but it also makes them look even yellower! On the other hand, whilst apple cider vinegar may not be great for your teeth, it does hold certain health benefits that are not to be sneered at. For example, it is known to kill bacteria, it can help to lower blood sugar levels, it may help to satiate your appetite, aiding in weight-loss and it has been linked by some studies to reducing blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease.
It is important to understand that these benefits are not wholly supported by science and further research is needed to determine exactly the benefits and risks of apple cider vinegar, for both our physical health and our dental health.
5. Fluoride-free toothpaste
Fluoride is the negative ion of the element fluorine. It is naturally occurring and can be found in trace amounts in the soil, air, water and many foods. It has been scientifically proven to help prevent tooth decay because it plays a vital role in the mineralisation of your bones and teeth, keeping them hard and strong. Fluoride is even added to water supplies in some places because of its unique ability to help prevent dental cavities and caries. However, recent beliefs that have gained traction online promote the view the fluoride is a toxin which can cause health problems – so is fluoride good or bad for you?
In the last 50 years, a lot of research has been carried out to review the safety of fluoride and to date, there has not been any convincing evidence to support concerns that fluoride is dangerous. One mild risk to children is a condition called ‘dental fluorosis’, which is when a child is exposed to too much fluoride when they are developing. This causes flecking or white lines to appear on their teeth, however, this is generally just a cosmetic issue that does not pose a serious risk to health. It is also very uncommon because fluoride levels in the water supplies in the United Kingdom are carefully regulated and monitored.
Despite scientific backing, some people still feel that fluoride is harmful, and with the proliferation of these beliefs, new formulas of fluoride-free toothpastes have started to appear for purchase. Whilst they may freshen your breath and kill bacteria, they are unable to provide the protection against decay that fluoride toothpastes are able to. In fact, the number one thing for your dental care is to brush your teeth with toothpaste that actually contains fluoride.
Whatever new health fad you are tempted by, be sure to do your research first, and if possible, ask a doctor or dentist about them too!
If you require dental treatment, or even just a dental check-up, find your ideal dentist here.