Back in 2003, I remember reading an excerpt from Trisha O'Hehir's book called "The Toothpaste Secret".  She basically said that you should clean your teeth with a dry tooth brush to remove the plaque and then add the toothpaste.

My brain was totally confused because like most of the world, I was somehow convinced that the toothpaste was necessary to make my mouth clean.  It looked great and the refreshing minty taste was surely killing germs.  Why would the instructions on the box and every single dental professional I'd ever come across ask me to use a pea sized drop of dentifrice unless it was destroying the bacteria on my teeth?!?

Then I got to thinking about sunscreen.  Would you lather up with SPF 30 only to jump right in the ocean? 

In a flash of brilliance, I realized how retarded it was to brush for 45 seconds (the usual tooth brushing session... even thought it's supposed to be two minutes) with a paste claiming all kinds of benefits only to wash it down the drain!  How can the potassium nitrate in Sensodyne work if you don't let it soak in?  How can the calcium and phosphate of any brand give you any benefit if it gets rinsed right away?

The Takeaway:  If you are high risk for decay or periodontal disease, let your dental professional point you toward a prescription product.  If not, the least you can do it clean your teeth really well:

1. Brush with a dry brush twice a day for at least two minutes and then use the brush or your fingers to apply the OTC toothpaste.  Let it work by giving it time to soak into the pores of your teeth (spit out the extra) 

2. Floss at least once a day (or use your favorite interdental device)

3.  See your hygienist at least twice a year (more often if you build a lot of tartar, have an active infection, or compromised immune system)


Kudos Trisha and thank you for opening my eyes so many years ago ......  my patients still look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them that their toothpaste is overrated!