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Dean George is the Marketing Specialist and Content Creator for Dental Insurance
Store and its social media channels. He is a regular contributor to Agent Straight Talk, the
only consumer blog explaining the ins, outs and in-betweens of dental insurance and
discount dental plans. READ MORE

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Enamel Saving Toothpaste - the Nitty Gritty

Mar 25, 2014

By Dean George

When you hear words like “acid protection” and “enamel strengthening formula,” do you keep one hand on your wallet and the other on your toothbrush?

Earlier this month in “Let’s Get Enameled with Tooth Enamel” we noted that you can’t grow more enamel. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Diamonds may be forever, but tooth enamel isn't. You can’t order more from Amazon, bid for it on eBay or get placed on an enamel recipient waiting list.


The Nitty Gritty of Enamel Saving ToothpastesThe Nitty Gritty of Enamel Saving ToothpastesThe Nitty Gritty of Enamel Saving Toothpastes


Today in our farewell installment of the Tooth Enamel Chronicles, we want to squeeze out the meaning of what toothpaste manufacturers mean when they use words like “enamel protection,” “enamel strengthening” and “enigmatic enamel enabler.” Okay, sorry; that last one was unintentional. I couldn’t find the alliteration brake on the keyboard. 

Anyway, as we've discussed in previous posts, enamel is susceptible to decay on two fronts: indirectly by acids in oral bacteria and directly by what we put in the ol’ pie hole several times a day. We are what we eat, and our teeth are on the front lines in this daily battle. That’s why regardless of age it’s important to brush for at least two minutes twice a day, floss regularly and visit a dentist every six months.

Remember, enamel damage is non-reversible - even if you brush backwards while looking in a mirror and standing on your head. 

Enamel Protection It’s a given that fluoride prevents cavities by remineralizing enamel. It does this by mixing with the minerals in your mouth and creating fluorapatite, which is a crystal that helps coat your teeth.

And it’s also true that a few toothpaste brands that use more fluoride may slightly benefit enamel by making it a smidgen more acid resistant. But here’s the fact, Jack. Basically any toothpaste containing fluoride makes the teeth more resistant to acid attacks from food and drink – as long as you aren't guzzling sports drinks and sodas all day.

There are also different types of fluoride that can help enamel. Some toothpaste brands use stannous fluoride, which is different than regular fluoride because it attacks acid-producing mouth bacteria for several hours after brushing. Stannous fluoride also counters tooth sensitivity by blocking fissures or small tunnels in the teeth.

At least one toothpaste manufacturer uses sodium hexametasphosphate (HMP), a compound sometimes used as a food additive in yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, gelatin and cheese. Reportedly the compound forms a protective film over the surface of teeth for several hours.

I know what you’re thinking: if we brushed with ice cream couldn’t we apply the protective film while enjoying a little hint of rocky road or butter pecan? C’mon readers, think about it: do you really want to keep your toothpaste in the freezer? Or squeeze your ice cream out of a tube in the bathroom?

Interestingly, according to the National Institutes of Health, HMP can significantly reduce plaque formation in dogs by 60% to 80% when used as a surface coating on dry dog food or plain dog biscuits.  I mentioned this to our dog but he just gave me a dubious yawn before fetching the TV listings and begging me to turn on Animal Planet.

Anyway, the point is no available toothpaste containing fluoride helps grow enamel. And even the protective layer fluoride-based toothpaste provides won’t work well if you consume lots of sugary or acidic drinks on a regular basis. When toothpaste manufacturers use terms like “enamel strengthening” and “acid protection,” what they mean is their products harden the tooth’s protective service – when used as recommended.

When shopping for reputable enamel-protecting toothpaste, consider buying major brands because those companies have invested significant research into the proper formulation of fluoride. And since most toothpaste have nearly identical ingredients, choose one with a flavor you like since you are more likely to use it as recommended.

And speaking of recommendations, most of our plans come with a handy-dandy dentist locator. Just select a plan for consideration, and click on the Dentist Locator link for that plan. We recommend you check it out yesterday by clicking here.

As for rocky road or butter pecan-flavored toothpaste, I figure it’s only a matter of time before we’ll see it in shopping aisles from sea to shining sea.

Thanks for reading Agent Straight-Talk, and feel free to enjoy us for more dental adventures on  FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, Google+, and LinkedIn.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, PubMed.gov

Photo sources: blog.dentist.net, drugstore.com


Copyright 2014, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC        

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