Do Toothpaste Alternatives Really Work?

Has anyone ever told you that your smile lights up a room? Your smile is likely one of the first physical attributes that others notice when looking at you, so we could all agree that it's important to take proper care of your teeth. 

Brushing your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day, for two minutes at a time, is encouraged by the American Dental Association (per Mayo Clinic). A fluoride toothpaste can help to remove plaque from the teeth that has accumulated from eating and drinking throughout the day. Healthgrades explains how our teeth consist of three layers, and tooth decay and plaque buildup are most likely to occur on enamel, which is the outermost layer of the tooth. This is where fluoride toothpaste could come in and save the day, as fluoride has been associated with strengthening teeth and preventing cavities. Tooth decay can also be prevented by using fluoride toothpaste on a regular basis (per Oral-B). 

Along with the classic fluoride toothpaste, you may have heard of some interesting alternatives for brushing your teeth, such as using charcoal or baking soda. You might be wondering if these alternatives are actually effective, or if you are better off sticking with the fluoride toothpaste that you've grown accustomed to. 

Are alternatives to toothpaste worth trying?

Are there any alternative options for brushing your teeth that are actually worth the hype? 

It turns out that one of the most popular and trendy alternative methods, charcoal-infused toothpaste, might not be so great for your teeth. Harper's Bazaar reports that charcoal has minimal effect on preventing tooth decay, and if used regularly, powdered charcoal can actually lead to more damage. Due to its abrasive nature, using charcoal too often may damage the enamel on your teeth. If you decide to use charcoal toothpaste, it's recommended to be cautious and brush your teeth very gently. In addition, charcoal toothpaste can stain the porcelain on crowns or veneers, which can be a cosmetic inconvenience, according to Self

Although charcoal toothpaste may not be as effective as we'd hoped, there are other alternatives that seem more promising. As explained by Smilepoint Dental Care, brushing your teeth with baking soda mixed with water can be utilized for cleaning and whitening the teeth. Coconut oil can also be used in conjunction with baking soda, as it's believed to fight against bad breath and gum disease (per Healthline). Brushing with sea salt and water is another effective way to kill harmful bacteria and clean the mouth. Furthermore, herbal tooth powders can clean teeth and help prevent infection, inflammation, and pain, according to Hemet Dental Center.