Friday, June 25, 2010

Trader Joe's Peppermint Toothpaste

I felt that I should single-out this toothpaste because it single-handedely solved my canker sore problem. When I realized 4 years ago that my canker sores might have been caused by an ingredient in most toothpastes (sodium lauryl sulfate), I went searching for a toothpaste without SLS. Trader Joe's Peppermint toothpaste was the only one I found! Granted, I didn't do an exhaustive search. But, it is somewhat amazing the extent to which SLS infiltrates toothpaste ingredients. Even "natural" toothpastes, like Tom's of Maine, use SLS. TJ's toothpaste is baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) based and is apparently much gentler on the gums than normal toothpastes. I went from having 10+ painful canker sores per month (often multiple at the same time) to one mild sore every few months. It took about a year to see the full effect, though I saw a significant decrease in canker sores after a month.

Based on this post, I'm not alone in praising TJ's toothpaste.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Losing my Gums

I've known for a while that I've had a mild case of receding gums. My dentist has always focused me on the usual brushing/flossing/fluoride. I first learned that this was a poor recommendation after discovering that it was the sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) (a cheap detergent) in most brand-name toothpastes which was irritating my gums resulting in canker sores. At my latest checkup, I got a pretty serious scare---my lower gums had receded so far that my roots were exposed in places. I now realize that this is why they've been more sensitive than the other teeth, especially to hot and cold. What did my dentist recommend? More fluoride (and a visit to the periodontist). Somehow, I don't think more fluoride is going to help considering that I already brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. 'course, it turns out that sodium lauryl sulfate is a cause of receding gum according to Wikipedia. Why hasn't anyone sued the ADA and toothpaste manufacturers yet?

In addition to seeing a periodontist, I'm also quitting Coke (used to do 1 can/day) and seriously scaling back my tea drinking (was ~6 cups/day and I've learned that the tannin in tea translates to acidity which teeth and gums don't like). Besides sugar and acid, I'm guessing that such drinks lessen the opportunities for my saliva to protect and heal my teeth and gums. I've also learned that I probably have a minor case of dry mouth, which again means that I don't get as much of the natural protection from
saliva as one normally would. One thing I'll be trying is Biotene toothpaste, which adds enzymes to the mouth and doesn't contain SLS. One of the things I like about Biotene is that it contains Xylitol which has been show to reduce dental cavities.

Update 6/21/10: Biotene toothpaste does contain a detergent, Isoceteth-20.

Update 6/21/10: A peer of mine at work discovered that the cause of her gum recesion was nighttime teeth grinding at night. A teeth guard solved her problem.

Update 7/13/10: Biotene was a failure.