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In recent years, we have seen an increase in the use of natural dental care products. Social media platforms are filled with testimonials and before and after photos. As a consumer, we should be making decisions using research-based information, so that we aren’t doing more harm than good.

We decided to research some popular products and ingredients. The information presented is meant to help you make educated decisions.

Activated Charcoal

There’s a lot of buzz about using activated charcoal as a teeth whitening agent. It may seem like a new trend. However, homemade toothpaste featuring charcoal as a key ingredient, dates back to the 19th century.

How does activated charcoal work?

It has porous surfaces that absorb particles from your teeth, which get washed away when you rinse. Hence, it may help in lifting surface stains and making your teeth appear whiter.  It cannot penetrate the inner surface of the tooth to lift deeper stains. A longer-lasting, whiter tooth color can only be achieved from whitening treatments that penetrate below the outer surface of teeth.


There are no clinical studies available that can vouch for its effectiveness in whitening or its abrasive content. The concern is that the abrasiveness of charcoal may cause enamel damage if used regularly.


Health food stores are selling different brands of oral health products, primarily toothpaste and mouthwash, containing Neem.

How does Neem work?

Neem is a tree found in tropical climates and is known to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Traditionally, slender neem twigs (called datun) are first chewed as a toothbrushand then split as a tongue cleaner. This practice has been in use in India, Africa, and the Middle East for centuries. Neem products have been found to be effective in reducing plaque and gingival inflammation.


Theobromine is an extract derived from chocolate (that’s right…chocolate!). It is found in a toothpaste called Theodent, along with calcium and phosphate.  Theodent does not contain fluoride and is safe for children, in case of accidental swallowing.

How does Theobromine work?

Research has shown that theobromine can enhance the remineralization potential of the enamel, similar to fluoride.


There are good and bad bacteria that live in our mouths. Oral probiotics prevent the overgrowth of  bad bacteria. Probiotic gums with specific strains of bacteria can help to decrease bad breath, as well as help fight cavities, if they contain xylitol as an ingredient.

How do Oral probiotics work?

BLIS stands for “Bacteriocin-Like-Inhibitory-Substance” and is the naturally occurring component of certain strains of probiotics which control growth of harmful bacteria.

BLIS K12, present in Probiotic Gum, is a specific strain of probiotic that  has been shown to control the bacteria that frequently causes strep throat, upper respiratory infections, and halitosis (bad breath). It is sweetened with xylitol and stevia. Research has shown that xylitol may help to fight against cavities.

The above mentioned products are some options that you may choose to use for your oral health care. We encourage you to do your own research before purchasing them.

Abinaash Kaur, BSc, DDS, Simona Wali, CDA, Amber Yamada, CDA

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