We all have been told that we should brush our teeth every day to remove plaque build-up and bacteria in order to have healthy gums and teeth. What we may not have been told is what ingredients in our toothpaste might be doing us more harm than good. If you read the label on your toothpaste, you may find that it contains an ingredient called glycerin. Some people think that glycerin is actually causing us to damage our teeth every time we use it to brush.
What Is Glycerin?
Glycerin is a common ingredient found in toothpaste, soap, lotion, candles and dozens of other things. It is extracted from animal fat or vegetable oil. It is a humectant, which means it is used to retain moisture or to actually attract moisture out of the air. Because it is able to help things retain moisture, it can be a great addition in the making of soaps and lotions. However, this ingredient is often the base of most toothpastes, and it is causing debate in the dental industry as to whether or not it is good for healthy teeth.
Glycerin in Toothpaste
The glycerin in your toothpaste is what gives you that shiny, smooth coat after you finish brushing your teeth. Some people enjoy that feeling of smooth teeth, because it enhances the feeling of cleanliness as your run your tongue over your freshly brushed teeth. It also gives your teeth a shiny appearance, which is sought out by some consumers. Glycerin is actually coating your teeth as you brush with it, and this coating can take more than twenty rinses to be fully removed.
Glycerin and Your Teeth
When you brush with glycerin, it is not thought to actually remove the enamel from your teeth. The glycerin instead provides an oily coat to your teeth, since it is an oil-based substance. This coat can be very difficult to rinse off, so it typically stays on your teeth for an extended period of time. Some dentists believe that teeth can regenerate enamel that has been destroyed by acids. However, your teeth need to be clean of all coatings in order to absorb the calcium and other minerals that can help protect them. Enamel is needed to help prevent our teeth from breaking down, becoming sensitive and developing cavities.
Take into consideration that there are many different theories in the dental industry on what is good practice for keeping your teeth clean. The American Dental Association reports that toothpaste should be used daily to maintain good oral hygiene, and that glycerin is added to help the toothpaste retain its moisture. However, Dr. Gerald F. Judd has expressed concern for the dangers of using glycerin and fluoride for cleaning teeth in his book "Good Teeth -- Birth to Death." Many people are choosing alternatives to brushing their teeth with toothpaste containing glycerin. Natural products are available on the market, and some say that using bar soap is just as good at removing bacteria from your teeth as toothpaste.
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- American Dental Association: Toothpaste
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