Should I Brush My Teeth with Dirt?

Tooth powders can be an effective way to clean your teeth, but they require more effort to use.

Many products are being marketed to consumers as “all natural,” “chemical free” and “eco-friendly” — even toothpastes. For example, there’s now “Dirt” toothpaste! Here the Sacramento Dentistry Group discusses the contents of this alternative tooth powder.

Nitty Gritty on The Dirt Tooth Brushing Powder

First, The Dirt is an actual tooth powder, so you wet your toothbrush and put it into a powder, making that powder into a paste that adheres to the toothbrush, and your teeth. Tooth powders were common before toothpastes were invented. They do require a little extra effort to use, so you have to be dedicated to oral hygiene if you want to use The Dirt.

The Dirt is free of genetically modified organisms and is primarily made with bentonite clay and baking soda, featuring essential oils for flavor and therapeutic effect. Such substances were components of historic oral hygiene products. “The real benefit of bentonite clay is that it is abrasive enough to remove the plaque, but not so much so that it will do damage to your enamel,” William Graves, DMD says in Self magazine.

To illustrate Dr. Graves point, silica is a common abrasive used in toothpastes. While tooth enamel is considered to be right in the middle of the Mohs Hardness Scale at a 5, silica is a 7 (talc hits 1 on the scale, 10 is for the hardest natural substance — diamonds). Clays such as bentonite fall at around 2 on the hardness scale, making them much less abrasive than silica and unlikely to ever damage tooth enamel. This is definitely a positive factor for using The Dirt.

A downside is that The Dirt is fluoride free, and the American Dental Association recommends using fluoride dental products to protect teeth from cavities. (Fluoride remineralizes weak spots in the enamel to prevent cavities.) Those who avoid fluoride may say they do so to avoid “heavy metals.” While fluoride toothpastes can contain extremely small amounts of magnesium, chromium and iron, all three of these are considered essential minerals, toxic only at high levels. Bentonite, however, is known to contain aluminum, and that element is classified as a heavy metal. Therefore, fears of heavy metal toxicity would not be a reason to use The Dirt.

And If You’re Paleo

For strict adherents to the paleo diet, The Dirt offers freedom from any corn products, such as xylitol. The discussion of the merits of a diet regimen based on the presumed eating patterns of pre-historic ancestors is beyond the scope of this website, but rest easy knowing that The Dirt will keep you free from from highly processed vegetable products if you have such concerns.

The dentists at the Sacramento Dentistry Group are always happy to answer your questions about dental care. Feel free to read our website or ask us for more information when you visit.

Sacramento Dentistry
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