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July 26, 2022  | by Gina

Dental Click Bait

The internet is rife with solutions to common (or invented) dental problems. Does your electric brush take up too much space? Are you looking for affordable whitening? Do you suffer from bad breath? Your floss is ok… But don’t you want floss that’s great? How about a “robot dentist” that brushes your teeth for you?

You may not have thought about one or any of these in the past, but a dramatic “before and after” photo of whitened teeth and a promise of “the affordable, at-home whitening secret they don’t want you to know about!” can be very persuasive. The temptation to follow the link “just to investigate” can be very great - that’s why ads like this have been given the moniker “click bait,” or “link bait.” But do any of these teasers follow through on the promises they make? Are there any that are harmful?

As a hygienist, I get asked now and again about a specific product that a patient has seen on the internet. The problem with formulating a helpful response is that, in many cases, I can’t try the product without purchasing it. While the internet is filled with people who like to try these solutions and review them, rarely are they accompanied by studies that support their safety or effectiveness. In an effort to help, I have summarized a few of these products here, and compared the company’s description to my own clinical experience.

Here are some examples of trendy dental products and solutions:

DIY Orthodontic Products - Products such as SmileDirectClub offer the the opportunity to straighten your teeth without working directly with a dental professional. While it can be tempting to see this as a novel DIY opportunity, there are some serious risks. Improperly aligned teeth, interference with TMJ function or bite, open contacts or recession, and unaddressed gum disease can have serious consequences. Evidence shows that tooth movement is most successful (and safer) under the supervision of a dentist who can help you manage your treatment needs and screen for dental decay and gum disease throughout the process.

Quip Toothbrushes - and other electric toothbrushes that run on a AAA battery - may feel similar to a Sonicare, Oral-B or other brush with evidence-backed efficacy, but they are actually running up to 10,000 times fewer cycles per second. If used, they should be used with an “activated” stroke, like one would a manual toothbrush. We have also seen some abrasion and wear that may be attributable to the use of these brushes. This may be related to the observation that are outfitted with harder bristles.

Charcoal Whitening - There has been some question as to the safety of charcoal as a food additive. As a polish for your teeth, it is gritty and can be very abrasive and should be avoided.

Tablet (chewable) Toothpastes - There is a great deal of promise here in terms of the reduced packaging waste. However, many tablet pastes do not contain fluoride, which is recommended by the ADA (and MSFD).

Cocofloss - This product has a glossy sales pitch, and “cute” subtle flavors the company labels as "scents." However, this floss is the real deal: not coated with Teflon or other plastics, biodegradable, and the texture is one that I often recommend to my patients.

Generally, we recommend sticking to products that have good clinical studies behind them, not just anecdotal (and usually paid) endorsements. Do you have any questions about other “link bait” claims or products, and how likely they are to be helpful, healthy, or worth your money and attention? Would you like to know more about any of the products mentioned here? Send it in an email to us at info@monroestreetfamilydental and let us know what you are curious about. Your question may end up as a future blog post or newsletter topic!