Do You Really Need Toothpaste?

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You might not be so great at brushing your teeth, but you probably don’t know it. And it’s not from a lack of trying.

One big problem is the toothpaste itself you might be using. It’s not a particular brand of toothpaste, but any toothpaste now on the market.

The real key to effective brushing is to brush without toothpaste.

Yep…without toothpaste. Here’s why.

Toothpaste flavor and wetting agents will numb your tongue so you think your teeth are slippery and clean, when they are actually still covered with plaque.

That may sound a little gross, but bear with me here.

One of the active agents in popular toothpastes, sodium laurel sulphate, creates so many bubbles, that it can cause you to only end up brushing your teeth for 30 seconds, rather than the recommended two minutes. The toothpaste foam also makes it impossible to see where you are placing your toothbrush. The bottom line is that toothpaste can prevent effective plaque removal.

On the other hand, brushing without toothpaste encourages you to feel with your tongue and to continue brushing, until your teeth feel and taste clean. Simply put, brushing without toothpaste allows you to measure your tooth brushing effectiveness.

Researchers have gone so far as to measure the ineffectiveness of daily brushing with toothpaste. A recent systematic review showed tooth brushing with toothpaste rarely removes even half of the plaque on the teeth.

But here is where logic fails the researchers. They assume that since people aren’t brushing their teeth effectively, more chemicals should be added to toothpastes, rather than having you brush without toothpaste to achieve the desired level of plaque removal.

So THAT may explain why a lot of extra chemicals are found in our toothpastes. Kinda shocking, don’t you think?

What’s more, a second problem with using toothpaste is that over-aggressive brushing can wear away teeth enamel over time, causing the teeth to look darker. So toothpaste can slowly abrade your teeth without you realizing it.

So…I’ll share a little secret with you. To prevent wearing away the enamel on your teeth, brush your teeth with mouthwash! Believe it or not, this will remove plaque from your teeth quite well—it’s the toothpaste industry that has convinced the public that toothpaste is so important. But instead, you can actually brush more effectively without it. Just one of the nuggets of dental information I love sharing with my patients.

Have more questions? Contact me to schedule an appointment. I’m here for you and happy to answer any questions you have about your dental treatment


  1. Robert Henriques on February 24, 2016 at 5:09 pm said:

    I have not used toothpaste for 40 years. I use a I I use a mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. It has not damaged my enamel, or so Dr. Hill in Georgetown says. Should I continue or switch to mouthwash? Should I continue to use the Market Basket brand or Listerine? They both seem to have the same % of active ingredients.

    Please advise. Thanks

    PS My wife, Jane Singer will be making an appt. with you regarding sleep apnia.

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