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Hidden dangers in your dental care products

There are many options we have in taking care and beautifying our smile these days. The claims can be enticing— promises of whitening, tartar control, cavity control, germ killing, and more.

Did you know some of the ingredients in your toothpastes, mouthwash and teeth whiteners can actually be more harmful than beneficial?

There are some controversial ingredients lurking in our oral care products that we should use with caution. The floor of the mouth— the area below the tongue— is very vascular and can act as a quick route of absorption to our bloodstream.

Triclosan is an ingredient in a popular toothpaste that claims to work up to 12 hours to prevent bacterial plaque formation. This ingredient has raised concern because studies have shown it can be an "endocrine disruptor," which can lead to hormonal imbalances such as fertility problems and thyroid problems; it is also linked to antibiotic resistance. Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expressed concern with this ingredient and Johnson & Johnson is removing it from its soap by 2015.

One ingredient in mouthwash that is more harmful than beneficial is alcohol. One popular brand has a 20 percent concentration of alcohol in its formulation. Alcohol dries out the mouth, making breath worse. Plus, it makes you more prone to cavities since the natural protection of saliva is reduced. There have also been some links between alcohol and cancer of the mouth.

There are plenty of good mouth rinses on the market that are alcohol free. Choose one with zinc that will fight bad breath at the source.

Carbamide peroxide is found in whitening pastes, gels and rinses. The byproduct of carbamide peroxide is urea, which turns into ammonia. This is not to be confused with hydrogen peroxide, which is safe to use in moderation. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down into oxygen and water and is a better choice since it also works faster.

Whitening toothpaste can be a confusing product. When one hears "whitening" they think of "bleaching" the teeth and having deep stains inside the tooth being removed to reveal a whiter smile. If you look at the back of a "whitening " paste it will say "removes surface stains.” That means it’s only removing the top layer of stain on the outer enamel and not effectively whitening the inside of the tooth. This is accomplished by using heavy abrasives to scratch away the stains on the enamel surface, which can wear away your tooth surface and cause sensitivity. Enamel does not grow back. If you want a real whitening toothpaste you need a professional strength hydrogen peroxide gel in a separate tube which you add to your regular paste each time you brush. This will effectively whitening your teeth— from the inside out.

Please make sure you brush twice a day, rinse and floss. Visiting your dentist twice a year is also recommended to keep your mouth healthy.

Dr. Jennifer Jablow is well known for creating the gorgeous grins of FORD Models, Talk show hosts, CEOs, fashionistas, music stars and many other celebrities. She is a regular on air contributor as a dental expert discussing products, procedures and health issues. Dr Jablow has been featured as a “Life Changer” on EXTRA! TV and also is frequently written about in print such as Marie Claire, SELF, Town & Country, New York Times, Readers Digest, ELLE, New Beauty, Prevention, Men’s Health, Men’s Vogue, Fitness, SHAPE, and many more. After years of research Dr. Jablow created the IntelliWHiTE oral care system, which combines revolutionary delivery, formulations and safety for at home and on the go use.  Find out more at www.doctorjablow.com.