Charcoal-based toothpastes - which claim to help whiten teeth - could actually increase the risk of tooth decay and staining, a review published in the British Dental Journal has found. According to the review, charcoal-based toothpastes often contain little or no fluoride to help protect teeth and the claims they make about whitening are not supported by any evidence. Furthermore, excessive brushing with them can actually do more harm than good because they are often more abrasive than regular toothpastes and can cause damage to tooth enamel and gums. The authors of the paper say people should stick to brushing with a regular fluoride toothpaste and consult their dentist about teeth bleaching/whitening. Speaking about the review, Prof Damien Walmsley, from the British Dental Association, said: “Charcoal-based toothpastes offer no silver bullets for anyone seeking a perfect smile, and come with real risks attached. “So don't believe the hype. Anyone concerned about staining or discoloured teeth that can't be shifted by a change in diet, or improvements to their oral hygiene, should see their dentist.” The bottom line, according to study co-author Dr Joseph Greenwall-Cohen, from the University of Manchester Dental School, is that charcoal-based toothpastes do not provide “a low cost, quick-fix, tooth-whitening option.”
A new study has uncovered further evidence that a close link exists between oral health and chronic diseases; specifically that patients with chronic kidney disease and severe gum disease have a greater risk of death than those with healthy gums. Led by the University of Birmingham in the UK, the study, the results of which were published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, found that oral health definitely isn’t just about teeth, again highlighting the importance of good oral hygiene. Iain Chapple, senior author of the study and a professor in periodontology, said: "The mouth is the doorway to the body, rather than a separate organ, and is the access point for bacteria to enter the bloodstream via the gums." For the research, Chapple and his colleagues analysed data from some 13,734 individuals in the US, of which 6% were found to have chronic kidney disease. The team then assessed the link between severe gum disease and mortality in people with chronic kidney disease. They found that over 10 years, the risk of death for people with chronic kidney disease was increased by 9% if they also had periodontitis (severe gum disease). Professor Chapple said that the most worrying fact is that people with periodontitis often don’t know they have it. A little bit of blood when they brush their teeth is often dismissed as normal, but if they don’t have it checked out further they could be risking problems in the rest of their bodies.