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Whitening toothpastes a washout: Choice

Australians are paying a premium for so-called whitening toothpastes that offer no extra benefits.

According to consumer watchdog Choice, consumers are forking out for marketing spin rather than actual benefits when purchasing higher-priced toothpaste.

It reviewed 17 toothpaste products ranging in price from $1.27 to $7.99 and broke down product claims such as “advanced-whitening”, “multi-action”, “enamel-lock”, and “micro-cleaning crystals”.

Choice found none of the whitening toothpastes investigated actually contained a bleaching agent required to physically alter the colour of teeth.

“These terms give the impression that the large range of toothpastes all do something different, with the expensive items doing something more than a basic product,” said Choice representative Ingrid Just.

“In reality, you’re paying extra for essentially the same product.”

Most toothpaste products contain the same ingredients, such as fluoride, a mild abrasive such as calcium carbonate or hydrated silica, along with humectants to help the paste retain water.

Thickeners, sweeteners, lathering agents and flavours are added to enhance taste and appearance.

The consumer body said children’s toothpaste products were also guilty of spin through the use of colourful packaging and popular cartoon characters.

In Australia, Colgate-Palmolive and GlaxoSmithKline account for 92 per cent of the toothpaste market.


Belgian Study Reports Infected Gums Leak Endotoxins Into Bloodstream

A recent Belgian research report published in the January issue of the Journal of Periodontology, suggests that people with severe gum disease may be prone to releasing bacterial endotoxins into their bloodstream. This may explain the link between gum infections and cardiovascular disease.

Lead author Dr. Eric H. Rompen, of the University of Liege department of periodontology and dental surgery, said “The mouth can be a major source of chronic or permanent release of toxic bacterial components in the bloodstream during normal oral functions”.

“This could be the missing link explaining the abnormally high blood levels of some inflammatory markers…observed in patients with periodontal disease,” he added.

Previous research has found that people with periodontal disease are more likely to suffer strokes and coronary artery disease. While researchers have shown that bacteria in the mouth can be released into the bloodstream, they have not shown that endotoxins–poisons emitted by some bacteria–can also enter the bloodstream via the mouth.

In their study, Rompen and colleagues sought to determine whether endotoxins could in fact be released into the bloodstream by a “usual and frequent oral habit,” such as chewing gum, and if people with more severe gum disease might release more endotoxin into their blood. To investigate, the researchers had 42 people with moderate to severe periodontal disease and 25 people with healthy gums chew gum 50 times on each side of their mouth. The investigators also measured the level of endotoxins circulating in each individual’s bloodstream before chewing and 5 to 10 minutes afterwards.

According to the report the average amount of endotoxins present in the blood were significantly higher in all the patients after the gum chewing. Those with severe periodontal disease were nearly four times as likely to have significant levels of endotoxins after chewing than those with healthy gums. The authors concluded that these findings provide additional evidence for a link between the bacteria present in the mouth of those with periodontal disease and inflammatory reactions linked to heart disease.

Japanese Researchers Link Amalgam Fillings And Atopic Dermatitis

Two Japanese researchers have reported that dental amalgam causes the chronic skin disease atopic dermatitis and other allergic dermatitis. They have called for patients to be informed of the compound’s potential side effects and have even asked for the government to prohibit its further use.

Tsunetoshi Shimazu, a Kyoto-based doctor specializing in allergic diseases made the announcement at the Sixth International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant (ICMGP) being held last October in Minamata, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan.

Shimazu conducted a survey with Nagakazu Ko, an Osaka-based dentist, from 1991 to 1998 on 300 allergic dermatitis patients in western Japan who had amalgam in their teeth.

According to Shimazu, after replacing the amalgam in their teeth with other metals or plastic materials, roughly 70% of the patients saw improvements in their dermatitis conditions a year later and about 58% of patients completely recovered from the dry, itchy and irritated skin, that characterises the illness.

Using test tubes, Shimazu and Ko also conducted a survey on the same 300 patients on their lymphocytes’ allergic reaction to heavy metals such as mercury which found about 98% of the patients tested positive for a mercury allergy.

In a separate study, Shimazu conducted a survey on about 250 elementary students in Kyoto in 1997 and found about 38% of them had amalgam in their teeth.

While about 48% of those who had amalgam in their teeth suffered from dermatitis only 8% of students who had no amalgam suffered from dermatitis, Shimazu said.

From these results, Shimazu concluded that the mercury in amalgam plays a major role in triggering allergic dermatitis.

Some nations such as Sweden ban the use of amalgam for pregnant women and small children. About 1 ton of mercury for amalgam is used in Japan each year.

Shimazu said, “Measures to counter allergies should first focus on removing the causes, not just relying on steroids. The government should seriously consider whether to ban the use of amalgam.”

Several theories exist to explain the link between periodontal disease and heart disease. Additional studies have pointed to a relationship between periodontal disease and stroke…

Gum Disease Links to Heart Disease and Stroke



Researchers have found that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease.



Heart Disease

Several theories exist to explain the link between periodontal disease and heart One theory is that oral bacteria can affect the heart when they enter the blood stream, attaching to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries (heart blood vessels) and contributing to clot formation. Coronary artery disease is characterized by a thickening of the walls of the coronary arteries due to the buildup of fatty proteins. Blood clots can obstruct normal blood flow, restricting the amount of nutrients and oxygen required for the heart to function properly. This may lead to heart attacks.

Another possibility is that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease increases plaque build up, which may contribute to swelling of the arteries.

Researchers have found that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease can also exacerbate existing heart conditions. Patients at risk for infective endocarditis may require antibiotics prior to dental procedures. Your periodontist and cardiologist will be able to determine if your heart condition requires use of antibiotics prior to dental procedures.


Additional studies have pointed to a relationship between periodontal disease and stroke. In one study that looked at the causal relationship of oral infection as a risk factor for stroke, people diagnosed with acute cerebrovascular ischemia were found more likely to have an oral infection when compared to those in the control group

Breast-feeding Lowers Risk of Crossbite

The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of an infant’s life. This recommendation is based on benefits for both the mother and the child. Breast-feeding exclusively enhances craniofacial growth and development, and helps prevent non-nutritive sucking habits. Breast-feeding for less than six months or not at all has been shown to result in malocclusion and posterior crossbite in particular. Crossbite in deciduous teeth develops early and rarely self-corrects, so early preventive action is warranted.

Researchers in University of Sao Paulo City, in Brazil clinically examined 1,377 children from 11 public schools in Sao Paulo. The children ranged in age from three to six years. Mothers completed a questionnaire to determine breast-feeding history.

Posterior crossbites were divided into three categories: bilateral, true unilateral, and unilateral with functional deviation of the mandible. Four categories of breast-feeding were identified: never (119), less than six months (720), six to 12 months (312), and more than 12 months (226).

Crossbite was diagnosed in 16.2 percent of the entire group, with subcategories being 2.8 percent bilateral, 4.4 percent true unilateral and 9.4 percent with functional unilateral crossbite. Crossbite decreased with longer history of breast-feeding. In children who were not breast-fed, the crossbite incidence was 31.1 percent. For those breast-fed less than six months, the incidence was 22.4 percent. Much lower incidence was found for those breast-fed six to 12 months – 8.3 percent and 2.2 percent for those breast-fed more than 12 months.

Clinical Implications: Breast-feeding exclusively for at least six months and more than 12 months can reduce the potential for posterior crossbite in deciduous teeth.

Kobayashi, H., Scavone, H, Ferreira, R., et al. Relationship Between Breastfeeding Duration and Prevalence of Posterior Crossbite in the Deciduous Dentition. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 137: 54-58, 2010.