Toothpaste – the helpful assistant
Fluorides, tensides and enzymes: what a toothpaste contains is not always useful,but it’s what it doesn’t contain that is often more important.
Anyone who gets a strange taste in their mouth after brushing their teeth should take a closer look at what is actually in their toothpaste. This is particularly important if they are suffering from dry mouth, irritation of the oral mucosa or even mouth ulcers. Fluoride is in there, obviously, but which fluoride is it? Cleaning and foaming agents (tensides) will also be found but which ones? And why does Curaprox toothpaste also have enzymes?
The scientific community agrees on this point: fluorides provide effective protection against caries. They harden and remineralise tooth enamel and even have an antibacterial effect. No consensus has yet been reached on the question of whether amine fluoride is preferable to sodium fluoride.
Sodium fluoride is an ionic compound created by the reaction of the trace element fluoride with sodium; just like cooking salt that is similarly created by a reaction with sodium, but with chlorine instead of fluorine. In contrast, amine fluorides are created by the hydrofluoridisation as it is called of amines, which in turn are obtained from animal fats. Sodium fluoride and amine fluorides are used to prevent caries. Sodium fluoride is a natural product and offers similar fluoride availability to amine fluoride.
So which should I choose: sodium fluoride or amine fluoride?
Amine fluoride is a success story and anyone not suffering from irritations of the oral mucosa or even mouth ulcers definitely has no need to stop using toothpastes containing amine fluoride.
Amine fluoride is rarely the cause of oral mucosa irritation or mouth ulcers in the low dosage amounts found in toothpaste. However, amine fluoride can definitely be considered a possible factor. Firstly, because amine fluorides create a slightly acidic environment, which can irritate the oral mucosa. Secondly, amine fluorides also act as cleaning and foaming agents (detergents). Detergents usually irritate the oral mucosa.
People who tend to get irritations of the oral mucosa or even mouth ulcers are thus well advised to be gentle on their oral mucosa and choose a toothpaste containing sodium fluoride. Sodium fluoride does not act as an acid; it is also natural in origin and offers protection against caries that is just as good as amine fluoride. The difference: sodium fluoride is not believed to irritate the oral mucosa or promote ulcer formation.
Cleaning and foaming agents: aggressive SLS
Everyone is familiar with the feeling of dry skin after using some shampoos. SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) is a highly effective tenside (cleaning and foaming agent) used in shampoos and toothpastes.
However, this SLS acts as a very strong degreasant, attacking the cells’ lecithin layer. In the worst-case scenario, the cells die off as they are no longer protected by this lecithin layer. In less serious cases, the skin and mucosa become irritated. There is also a proven connection between ulcer formation and SLS.
One study even reached the conclusion that toothpastes containing SLS should be classified as highly irritating. Trials using hens’ eggs showed that SLS stored in cell membranes results in cells dying off. Further studies reveal the connection between SLS and bleeding gums as well as favouring mouth ulcer formation.
As is always the case, it’s the dosage level that counts. Studies show that SLS in concentrations below 2% is not considered harmful. Why take unnecessary risks?
What is more, this degreasing with SLS also causes dryness, which is noticeable as a slightly unpleasant feeling after brushing.
The antibacterial properties of saliva are an important factor in the oral defence system - and this effect can even be further improved.
If the enzymes that are already naturally present in saliva are added to toothpaste, this natural saliva protection is intensified: less plaque, less tartar, natural remineralisation.
Enzymes: the lactoperoxidase system
Enzymes are proteins that boost numerous biochemical reactions in the human body. For example, Enzycal toothpaste contains the enzymes amyloglucosidase, glucoseoxidase and lactoperoxidase, which occur naturally in saliva. These enzymes help to reduce the formation of deposits, i.e. plaque, and thus reduce gum inflammation. The enzymes in Enzycal can also reduce oxidative stress.
Saliva’s important protective functions are thus supported, natural oral flora are promoted and harmful bacteria kept at bay.