Dr John, I’ve seen on TV, commercials for toothpaste, that is aimed for those who have bleeding gums. Do they work? What do you think of these type of toothpastes?

Toothpastes are actually detergents. A detergent is designed to loosen up the plaque, making it easier to remove from the teeth. So that’s pretty much all that a toothpaste does, is it helps to remove the plaque and bacteria. By loosening the plaque, making it easy to remove, means there’s going to be less plaque buildup, and hopefully, less bleeding gums. All toothpastes have the ability to go ahead and break up the plaque and bacteria, and aid in the reduction of bleeding gums. There’s some toothpastes that have other components associated with them, which are also designed to help reduce the amount of bacteria. Fluoride was in toothpaste, which helps kill the bacteria, but also helps to strengthen the tooth at the same time. While toothpastes are beneficial, there really isn’t necessarily one toothpaste that is greatly beneficial over another one. What we tend to find, is that certain people would respond better to one toothpaste than others do. Why? I couldn’t really tell you and I don’t know. There are also some people out there that feel that you shouldn’t use any toothpaste, just brush with a dry toothbrush or a damp toothbrush. Most of the time, it’s very patient selective… I should say, individualized for each patient, and that’s how we choose whether or not to recommend a toothpaste or not.

And toothpastes that advertised to strengthen enamel, do you know if they actually do that?

Yes, most of those toothpastes are designed to strengthen the enamel.

And fluoride, is that a component of detergent?

I feel that fluoride is very beneficial in toothpaste, some individuals don’t. It’s just more a matter of my opinion.

And what about mouthwash that’s advertised for the reduction of gingivitis or plaque, etcetera?

Most of mouthwashes, again, are alcohol-based or detergent based, mostly designed to flush out the bacteria. So as you brush your teeth, loosen the plaque, it’s mostly designed to kind of flush them out. Do they have any therapeutic benefits? There are some mouthwashes out there that do. But as for, again, each patient may show the benefits with the mouthwashes, other patients don’t.