Thursday, September 1, 2011

Toothpaste Rant

Today is senior's day at the local drug store - time to stock up on supplies.  But not toothpaste evidently.  I generally buy Sensodyne Original.  I used to buy it there. Not that I'm partial to Sensodyne, just that it is one of, possibly the only toothpaste commonly available (outside of health food stores) toothpaste that does not contain fluoride.  But, as the clerk said "If it's not on the shelf, we don't sell it."

My local drug store, like most big chains, has over 50 different flavours of toothpaste.  I say 'flavours', because there is only one basic 'formula', and only four or five different brands - most of the 50 different entries made by Crest or Colgate, followed by Sensodyne.  Every one of the 50 different toothpastes contain fluoride.

I have seen studies suggesting that fluoride reduces cavities.  Ditto for triclosan.  I'm not interested.

I would be interested in scientific studies if they were 'scientific' enough to take ALL of the known recipes for toothpaste and test them against each other, and publish all of the results.  And if a new toothpaste recipe is proposed, let it go thru the same tests.  Using scientific tests to find the BEST TOOTHPASTE would be a great idea, and a great ongoing project - where short term and long term results could be measured.  That's how scientific studies of medicines should be designed.  What are the short term results?  What are the long term results?  Most people use the same toothpaste recipe for decades.

But, scientific studies seldom, if every take the holistic approach to science - because they are designed to help market a specific drug or product.  So called 'scientific studies' are generally battles between A (the proposed new product) and B - and are only published if A wins by a conclusive margin. If A loses, the study may need to be re-defined. That's one of the reasons scientific studies are generally 'short term'.  The company wants to get the winner to market.  Most company funded 'scientific studies' are about as useful as the 'scientific study' showing that n percent of people prefer pepsi over coke.  You can make the test as 'scientific' as you like - the results are still garbage.

So much for Health Freedom in the toothpaste department.  As near as I can tell, Crest does not produce a toothpaste without fluoride.  Colgate produces many different toothpastes - only one that does not contain fluoride.  Ditto for Sensodyne.  My local drugstore does not sell a single toothpaste that does not contain fluoride.

Now maybe fluoride is good for your health.  Maybe not.  I do know that more than 10 countries have banned the addition of fluoride to water supplies - but still allow fluoride toothpaste.  I know that fluoride toothpastes have warnings on the package that say 'do not swallow' - and frankly, I don't want to brush my teeth with something that is not safe to swallow.

I want the freedom to make my own decision. I’d rather choose between 2 real toothpastes instead of 50 flavours of a single toothpaste recipe.

So, I will not buy toothpaste at my local, big chain, grocery store, and I will not buy toothpaste at my local, big chain, drugstore - because they restrict my freedom to choose a toothpaste that does not contain fluoride.  I find it a bit strange that our so called 'freedom based capitalist system' results in stores that limit my choices to flavours instead of substance.

I believe in Personal Health Freedom - if you want to purchase a toothpaste that contains fluoride, more power to you.  If you want a toothpaste that does not contain fluoride - I hope you have a nearby health food store.  I'll be driving a few extra miles to get mine, when my Sensodyne Original runs out.
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: