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Dental Health Current Topics in Dental Health

Toothpaste May Not Remove More Plaque: Study

Medically Reviewed On: December 22, 2010

(iVillage Total Health) - Brushing your teeth without toothpaste may remove more plaque than using the popular minty, fluoride enhanced pastes and gels, according to a new study.

Although millions of Americans wake each morning and squeeze a glob of paste onto their toothbrushes as part of their morning routine, researchers said there may be no benefit for plaque removal by using the products. Plaque is the sticky, bacterial buildup that accumulates on teeth and must be removed daily to prevent tooth decay. Brushing and flossing is the method recommended for maintaining good oral health.

Researchers from The Netherlands studied 36 people who used manual toothbrushes and standard toothpaste. The subjects allowed plaque to build up on their teeth for 48 hours. Researchers then supervised their toothbrushing. Toothpaste was used on one side of the participant's mouth while no paste was used on the other. The subjects brushed for a total of 2 minutes and researchers then examined their teeth.

They found that use of toothpaste accounted for a 50 percent reduction in plaque, but teeth that were brushed without toothpaste had a 56 percent reduction in plaque. Researchers concluded that brushing without toothpaste was more effective in removing plaque from the front surface of teeth. The mechanical action of brushing (moving the brush up and down or sideways) may have been the main factor in determining effectiveness of plaque removal, they said. However, brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste is recommended by dentists as an important component of good daily dental hygiene and to fortify and strengthen teeth to prevent tooth decay.

Results of the study were published in the June issue of the Journal of Periodontology.

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