Dental News

Some Toothpastes Work Better Than Others

January 3, 2002

By Nancy Volkers
InteliHealth News Service

Do some toothpastes work better than others? Apparently, according to four new studies. The studies all involved Colgate Total Plus Whitening toothpaste, which contains a special type of silica, as well as triclosan. Silica is an abrasive particle that helps scrub plaque off teeth. Triclosan is an antibiotic that can kill bacteria involved in tooth decay and gum disease.

Research from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Colgate/Palmolive compared Colgate Total Plus Whitening with Colgate Total in 86 people. (Colgate Total also contains triclosan, but not the special silica.) Each person was randomly assigned to brush with one of the toothpastes for one minute twice a day over six months.

After six months, people brushing with Colgate Total Plus Whitening had significantly lower levels of tooth stain, compared with those brushing with Colgate Total.

In addition, researchers from the Howard University College of Dentistry and Colgate/Palmolive published three studies looking at the buildup of plaque or calculus (tartar) and/or gingivitis (gum disease) in people using different toothpastes.

One study compared the ability of Colgate Total Plus Whitening and Colgate Total to remove plaque. Sixty-three people brushed with one of the toothpastes for one minute, twice a day. After eight weeks, people who had used Colgate Total Plus Whitening toothpaste had 34 percent less calculus than the group that used Colgate Total.

Another study compared three toothpastes:

  • Colgate Winterfresh Gel, which does not contain triclosan or pyrophosphate
  • Colgate Total Plus Whitening, which contains triclosan and special silica
  • Crest Multi-Care Advanced Cleaning, which contains silica and pyrophosphate, a compound that prevents plaque build-up

One hundred people brushed with one of the three toothpastes for one minute twice a day. After eight weeks, people using the Colgate Total Plus Whitening or Crest Multi-Care Advanced Cleaning had less calculus on their teeth than people using Colgate Winterfresh Gel.

The third study compared Colgate Total Plus Whitening to Colgate Total Fresh Stripe (which also contains triclosan) and a placebo toothpaste that did not contain triclosan. One hundred ten people completed the six-month study. Those who used Colgate Total Plus Whitening or Colgate Total Fresh Stripe had less plaque and less gingivitis than people in the placebo group.

Triclosan has been around for several decades but has become increasingly popular recently as an ingredient in antibacterial products. A recent study found that 76 percent of liquid soap and 29 percent of bar soap contains triclosan. The compound also is used in mouth rinses, deodorants and even clothing. Some scientists have expressed concern that the widespread use of the compound, which kills bacteria, could help make bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

Dental professionals recommend brushing for at least two minutes twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Most people brush for less than a minute. Brushing technique is also important for keeping your mouth healthy. Many people don’t brush properly, dental professionals say.

The studies were published in the January issue of the Journal of Clinical Dentistry.