9 October 2017

Tanzania: Oral Health Myths and Realities - 7

Photo: Pixabay
(file photo).

Myth 1: Toothpaste is a commercial paste used by affluent, wealthy and/or comfortable families to clean their teeth.


Toothpaste is a paste or gel dentifrice intended for everyone and used with a toothbrush as an accessory to clean teeth.

Toothpaste is used to support and keep up good oral hygiene since it serves as an abrasive that assists in removing soft white dirty accumulation on the teeth namely dental plaque and food remnants from the teeth.

Myth 2: Fluoride in toothpaste does not really help prevent tooth decay.


Fluoride in toothpaste and water prevents tooth decay. Toothpaste and water fluoridation are some of the most widely researched public health measures in history.

Fluoride has been reported to reduce dental decay by 20-40 per cent. Fluoride stops mineral loss in tooth enamel, helps rebuild weak tooth enamel and minimizes the ability of bacteria to produce acid that results in tooth decay.

Myth 3: Different types of toothpastes and flavours have different protective tooth decay and gum disease performances.


While it is extremely correct that cinnamon will work just as effectively as mint, there is a flavour issue. If one loves or at least likes a particular flavour, she/he will be more magnetised to use it. People are encouraged to use what makes their mouth pleased, so that their oral hygiene remains consistent.

Myth 4: If one wants to really get the teeth cleaned during oral hygiene routines, it is important to choose the toothpaste that washes down the dental plaque.


Not exactly! The soft bristles of the normal toothbrush are all one needs to remove the soft dental plaque and a non abrasive toothpaste.

Skip anything harsh or scratchy as it may abrade the teeth and invite the teeth sensitivity challenges.

Myth 5: All types of toothpaste are the same.


Toothpastes are not all produced alike and the same. Toothpastes carry various levels of abrasivity which, if too abrasive, can lead to sensitivity and may lead to premature wear of the teeth.

Various toothpastes contain colours and dyes that can stain teeth, alcohol that may be harsh and dry the mouth saccharin as well as artificial flavourings.

However, a number of high-quality types contain no artificial flavourings or dyes, are alcohol-free and saccharin-free.

Some toothpaste may contain safe and unique ingredients such as Xylitol and sucralose, herbs, essential oils and may offer fluoride and fluoride free options. Toothpaste users should read the labels to ensure of its safe use.

The author is a lecturer of Dentistry at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences.


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