Maybe you’ve wandered down the aisle of your supermarket and lamented the few toothpaste flavors presented on the shelves. You’ve probably noticed that the choices are almost exclusively mint, sometimes with a cleverly spun name like winter fresh or arctic ice, but definitely still mint. Colgate-Palmolive is the biggest buyer of U.S. produced mint, whereas in other areas of the world, the flavor isn’t so popular. In India, for example, consumers prefer spiced notes in their toothpaste like fennel or clove, and in China, flavors derived from tea, like lavender, are the most popular.
The Origins of Mint Toothpaste
So why do Americans love mint toothpaste? The ubiquity of mint flavored toothpaste can actually be traced back to its first introduction in American consumer markets. In the early 1900s, Americans suffered from widespread tooth decay. Barely anyone brushed their teeth, and in an effort to combat this national public health concern, Pepsodent was invented. With a bit of help from a successful marketing campaign and a key ingredient—mint extract—Americans boarded the brushing train.
Mint extract is an irritant, causing that familiar tingle on our tongues and in our mouths, and while mint doesn’t have any effect on how a toothpaste works, the tingly blast of cold quickly became associated with a clean mouth and good dental hygiene habits. Menthol, the active ingredient in mint, remains active in our mouths after we’ve finished brushing, offering that lingering feeling of cleanliness.
Within five years of its launch, Pepsodent was used in 60% of American homes. Americans had gained the taste for mint and they’d never give it up.
What You Don’t Taste Makes the Difference
Today, however, following careful studies, we’ve learned that some toothpastes can actually be highly abrasive, damaging to tooth enamel and especially damaging to dentin under the enamel if it’s exposed. The potential damage from toothpastes can be measured by its Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA). The recommended RDA for the toothpaste you keep on your bathroom sink should be 70 or lower. Pepsodent, for example, has a scary RDA of 150. That’s something no amount of mint can cover!
Fortunately, there are many more choices for toothpaste now than in the early twentieth century, and while mint may still be the dominating flavor option, Pepsodent is no longer the only brand. So it’s important that we understand our toothpaste’s RDA and the effects of choosing the right toothpaste for the best dental hygiene habits, especially if your doctor has determined that you have a high risk of dental decay (three or more cavities constitutes high risk for dental decay).
CariFree CTX4 is a toothpaste with a low abrasivity value and can help those at risk of dental decay in many ways. The toothpaste, and other CariFree products designed by dentists, offer many benefits for your teeth. It neutralizes the pH levels of your mouth and limits the amount of bacteria-produced acids. It controls the levels of harmful bacteria with penetrating antibacterial agents. Combining fluoride with several forms of calcium phosphate, the building block of tooth enamel, also allows for more effective strengthening of your teeth. And it comes in citrus and grape flavors as well as mint!
Today, we’re much more knowledgeable about tooth decay. We know not only how to treat it, but how to prevent it.
Home hygiene is important, but so is a visit to your dentist who can give personalized recommendations for how to best care for your teeth, and yes, for the most effective mint-flavored toothpastes too.
If you’re looking for a dentist in Las Vegas, please call (702) 873-0324 today for an appointment at the office of Dr. James B. Polley.