CONSPIRACY THEORY #3: Toothpaste CAUSES Cavities ~ 2/11/10

Think about it. Who pushes toothpaste on parents and kids? The dentists. And who benefits the most from the cavities that form in the mouths of parents and kids? The dentists. From as far back as I can remember, I have been suspicious of ‘the dentists.’ Suspicious of their perfect smiles. Suspicious of their meticulous waiting rooms stocked with jarringly outdated reading materials. Suspicious of the brightly-hued-new-toothbrush-that-changes-color-under-the-faucet bribes they sent home with my mother. The whole thing smelled of bubble-gum flavored trickery. It reeked of cool-mint subterfuge.

I remember one dentist who, after the routine and ritual torture treatment in ‘the back room,’ would give me a tube of toothpaste wrapped in a dollar bill as a parting gift. Because I was never sure if the dollar was a bribe designed to keep me ingesting his toothpaste or a favor designed to further indebt me to him, I always received the back-handed token with fear.

When I was a bit older there was another dentist who, in addition to the usual mind tricks and guilt-therapy, actually tried to convince me I had negatively affected the physiology of my face by breathing through my mouth as I slept at night. No, it’s true—he told me this seemingly innocuous habit had worked to narrow my nasal passages over time, thus producing a thin and pointy nose. As you can imagine, I couldn’t thank him enough for his helpful and clearly relevant observations.

My gnawing suspicions about dentists finally chewed their way to the surface like so many Trojan cavities when my five-year-old son, who eats nothing but celery sticks, carrots and organic apples (why is my nose suddenly getting longer and thinner…?), was diagnosed with as many rotting teeth as years he’s been alive. That’s five, in case you weren’t paying attention. And yet I had carefully brushed his tiny teeth every night! This left me with only one possible culprit. In a flash of insight so obvious it was shocking I’d never seen the connection before, I realized with horror-- the toothpaste was causing the cavities. This, my friends, is the grinning face of white-collar job security. This is the denture-bearing sneer of dishonest dentistry. Here’s my theory:

Smoke-screen tactics ‘The Dentists’ use to hide the real purpose of toothpaste:

Tactic #1: Use big words.

The following quote was lifted, verbatim, off the tube of toothpaste in my bathroom:

Crest has been shown to be an effective decay-preventative dentifrice (??? -- Emphasis mine) that can be of significant value when used as directed in a conscientiously applied program of oral hygiene and regular professional care.” – Council on Scientific Affairs/ American Dental Association"

Okay… do I even have to say it? “Dentifrice?” Really? That word has to be made up. I know I’ve never heard it. I’m mostly sure you haven’t either. Seriously? How would that even be used in a normal sentence? “Hey Bob, your teeth look dentifrific!” Puh-lease. I looked it up on my laptop’s built-in dictionary and it told me the word didn’t exist. Just in case my computer doesn’t know everything, I Googled it. The result? “DENTIFRICE: A substance for cleaning the teeth; toothpaste.” So, basically, it’s a made up word that sounds more fancy than ‘toothpaste,’ but actually means… toothpaste. Shameless trickery.

Tactic #2: List complicated chemical ingredients.

Active Ingredient: Sodium fluoride- 0.243%

Fair enough; sodium fluoride has indeed been shown “to enhance the strength of teeth by the formation of fluorapatite, a naturally occurring component of tooth enamel” (wikipedia). But I have to ask, if that’s the ‘active’ ingredient, what’s making up the rest of the percentage? I mean, doesn’t that leave like, I don't know… 99.757% ‘inactive’ ingredients making up the difference? Now I’m no scientist, but ‘inactive’ ingredients don’t sound very helpful. My hunch? Ninety-nine odd percent of that toothpaste is made up of sugary sweet stuff so that the dentifri—er, I mean the toothpaste-- is even remotely palatable. Oh, and so it can cause the cavities it’s supposed to be preventing.

Tactic #3: Manipulate with threats and shameless fear mongering.

If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.”

Do you know why they say this? I think there was a CSI episode a while back where a lady died, frothing at the mouth, after being force-fed too much toothpaste. My guess? The idea behind this tactic is an ‘a fortiori’ argument—that if half a tube of accidentally swallowed toothpaste can poison a child, just think how much more damage “a pea-sized dollop (the suggested dosage)’ can do to a cavity! The parent, now equally terrified and convinced of toothpaste’s magical powers, dares not consider other alternatives. Sickening subterfuge.

Tactic #4: Deflect close scrutiny by adding superfluous, distracting and otherwise demeaning product instructions.

The following advice is boldly emblazoned on my toothpaste tube in bright red letters:

For best results, squeeze tube from the bottom and flatten as you go up.”

Feeling humiliated and oddly empowered at the same time, I quickly avert my eyes every time I see this clever suggestion. Which has always kept me from reading everything else on the tube... until today.

I’m officially convinced toothpaste causes, instead of prevents, cavities. It’s a diabolical conspiracy that targets and manipulates some of the most helpless among us. Anyway that’s what I think. You?


  1. You have too much time on your hands :) Some of us (me for example) have a genetic predisposition to have poor tooth enamel. No matter how much I brush I still get cavities. Barely anyone in my family has their own teeth. I agree that Dentist are not my favorite people in the world. But hey someone has to do it.

  2. I think you may have hit upon something! I was just watching a movie not long ago set in the 1700 or 1800s, they brushed their teeth with CHALK and a STICK! (Sounds kind of gritty to me.) But honestly, baking soda is amazing, and you can even add a drop of peppermint oil to it to make it palatable.
    You do have to wonder how people have been able to keep their own teeth for all these centuries before the invention of flouride-laced dentifrice!

  3. I'm glad to "see" others wonder about essoteric stuff too, lol.

    Modern tooth-paste does three essential things:

    1. Neutralizes mouth acid that eats at your enamel: Baking soda is excellent at doing this.

    2. Scours plaque from the gum base: Preventing the acid based secretions of anaerobic bacteria from eating your teeth and the inflammation that the bacteria cause if they get under the gum line. *gingivitis*

    3. Clears food particles from teeth crevices that harbor bacteria (flossing does a better job).

    Bonus #1: Fluoride simply strengthens the calcium bond in the enamel, but doesn't help against tooth acid.

    Bonus #2: Mint makes your breath smell nice.

    In truth, baking soda and floss can do as good a job as any tooth paste. Especially if you go to the dentist for cavity check ups a few times a year.

  4. I agree, I've done my own experiments, in fifth grade I flossed but didn't use toothpaste and when I went to the dentist he said I didn't have any cavities; however, prior to that I always had at least one cavity.

    Then many years later after my freshman year of college I tested the same theory again; this time flossing and mouthwash. The results were great and I was told I didn't have any cavities again. Today I floss and brush, but I use a child's toothpaste for sensitive teeth; it's not as abrasive as adult versions.

    I'm not sure it's exactly a conspiracy; however, I do firmly believe there is a chemical/ingredient in toothpaste that some people are more sensitive to than others.

  5. Use toothsoap. Its great. I don`t trust toothpaste myself.

  6. I have always brushed just once each day and never had any cavities for 20 years. When I was 20 I decided to take "better care" of my teeth and started brushing and flossing twice each day, 4 years later one of my molers got a big hole down the middle of it, before I could get to the dentist the next day it had broken in half! Always used flouride toothpaste, yet the doctor insisted I use it to prevent more cavities, 6 months later I started developing another "black spot" in the same molar on the opposite side of my mouth... I decided enough was enough, and now use non-flouride toothpaste over the last 6 months, and guess what... That growing cavity has healed itself and is almost gone today! I don't trust dentists anymore!

  7. I can't offer the source, but I've read, and believe, that the glycerin in toothpaste remains on your teeth long after brushing and rinsing, and that coating doesn't allow for the re-crystallization/re-mineralization of your tooth enamel, consequently your enamel develops weak spots. I recall a series of toothpaste commercials recently talking about "once your enamel goes, it's gone". UNTRUE! If you take an iodine supplement, along with magnesium, calcium and selenium (all of which most of us are deficient in) your teeth, and the rest of your body, will be strong and healthy. I stopped using toothpaste a year ago, replacing it with finely ground Myrrh (an ancient incense resin, used for dental health for at least a thousand years) and I've had a remarkable improvement in my dental health. Two small cavities cleared up. All gum bleeding stopped. My teeth felt "tighter" and stronger, and look, Ma! No cavities! I brush once a day, very thoroughly, with the Myrrh and then I brush three or four times, just a 30 second going over, with plain water...NON-fluoridated water! Do your body a favor and STOP using fluoridated tap water. Britta and other such filters don't remove fluoride. Check if your town has fluoride in the water. If it does, either get a water filtering system for your house that removes the fluoride or drink well, spring or bottled water. Fluoride is a poison that pushes your iodine out of your system, and every single cell in your body NEEDS iodine.


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