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Brushing Up: Smile! You’re About to Change Toothpastes

Written by Brian Wimer   
Friday, 01 December 2006 00:00
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If you are one of the majority of Americans that dutifully brushes with Colgate Total® on your dentist’s recommendations, you may be doing yourself more harm than good. What is first in the eyes of the dental dictocrats may be the last thing you want in your mouth.

AAmerican Dental Association (ADA)-approved Colgate Total® claims to be the only toothpaste “clinically proven” to “protect both above and below the gum line.” It has a patented formula for “12–hour” protection against cavities, gingivitis and plaque, due to the active ingredients: fluoride and triclosan (paired with gantrez, an adhesive copolymer).

Let’s start with fluoride. Now, listen closely: fluoride might cause cavities. Sounds like heresy, doesn’t it?

But this has been known since 1942, when Proctor & Gamble’s own initial clinical studies found a 23% increase in dental caries among children who used their fluoride toothpaste Teel. The reason: for fluoride to bond to teeth, it must remove calcium—that’s called fluorosis.

Brushing UpThe United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which currently runs de-fluoridation programs for the World Health Organization, says: “Agreement is universal that excessive fluoride intake leads to loss of calcium from the tooth matrix, aggravating cavity formation throughout life rather than remedying it.”

Sorry, water fluoridation is quite likely a bust. And that’s not news.

In 1999, the New York State Department of Health completed an unprecedented 45-year study comparing children in Newburgh, New York, which had fluoridated water for 45 years, with Kingston, New York, which never had fluoridated water. Conclusion: there was no significant difference in the amount of cavities between the two cities, but statistically there was more dental fluorosis in fluoridated Newburgh.

This critical study effectively nullified the prior findings of the benchmark 10-year 1955 survey comparing these same towns. The 1955 study allegedly found 70% fewer caries in fluoridated Newburgh and stood as the ADA’s primary clinical “evidence” for the nationwide fluoridation policies that followed.

Again, the 1999 findings were no revelation. In 1988, the National Institute of Dental Research and the United States Public Health Service completed a massive $3.6 million nationwide survey to assess fluoridation efficacy. The data (unveiled by a Freedom of Information Act filing) revealed no difference in tooth decay between fluoridated and nonfluoridated communities. Similar findings had been made by public health officials in New Zealand and Canada.

Water fluoridation promotion boils down to bad research. A 2000 review of 214 water fluoridation safety and efficacy studies (which censured both fluoridation proponents and critics) found little more than a wealth of poor science. Among researchers’ conclusions, “The most serious defect of the studies of possible beneficial effects of water fluoridation was the lack of appropriate design and analysis.”