Pop Goes the Culture, Dental Edition

If you’re a follower of royal family gossip, then you’re probably already aware of the recent news coverage of King Charles’ oral hygiene habits, which seemed to gain fresh attention with the publication of Omid Scobie’s latest book on the British monarchy.

You know he doesn’t squeeze out his own toothpaste. According to a new book by Princess Diana’s former butler, the King’s valet does it for him. For each brushing, exactly one whole inch of toothpaste is squeezed from a “crested silver dispenser.”

Perhaps the recommended “pea-sized amount” is only for commoners.

But it’s hardly just royals who are going overboard with toothpaste. On a recent episode of the Nightcap podcast, legendary NFL tight end Shannon Sharpe admitted to going through a tube of toothpaste every week. He also said that he brushes his teeth as many as 10 times a day.

Shannon, we love you, dude. You’re one of the greats. But that’s just too much brushing and way too much toothpaste.

Brushing too much can damage your gums and accelerate enamel erosion, leading to gum recession, tooth sensitivity, and a higher risk of decay and gum disease. Toothpaste can actually make matters worse, especially if you use a whitening paste.

Toothpaste basically has two roles: It can deliver special ingredients to the teeth, such as essential oils, probiotics, or antimicrobials, and it provides a bit of grit that helps break up the sticky biofilm that forms on your teeth between cleanings – a/k/a plaque. How much grit is something that can be measured on what’s called the relative dentin abrasion (RDA) scale. Most popular toothpastes are quite abrasive, with RDA scores over 100. A few, such as Crest Pro Health Whitening, score in the “harmful” range.

But toothpaste isn’t absolutely necessary for brushing your teeth. It’s the mechanical action of brushing that does most of the work. If you want the help of a little extra grit, you can’t go wrong with baking soda, which is gentle on your teeth while also providing some whitening power.

Meantime, there was some sadder and more serious football-related dental news that also made recent headlines. Although he died in hospice care back in September, former Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Williams’ cause of death was released shortly before Christmas. As reported by the Tampa Bay Times, that cause was “bacterial sepsis with cerebral abscesses and necrotizing lobar pneumonia due to multiple dental caries and retained tooth roots.”

Bacterial sepsis of the dental variety is a preventable condition, and therefore not a common complication in adults, Cesar Augusto Migliorati, a professor at the University of Florida College of Dentistry, told the Times.

“Poor oral health, decay and oral infection can cause infections elsewhere in the body, which seems to be the explanation for the patient in this case,” Migliorati wrote in an email.

“Oral health affects overall, systemic health,” he continued, “and issues that aren’t taken care of in our teeth, gums, roots can lead to problems in other parts of the body and other organs.”

Indeed.

This is why, as a holistic, biological dental practice, we emphasize prevention so much. It’s not just your mouth that can suffer from dental neglect but your total health and well being. So we strive to give you the information and tools you need to be proactive with your home care and, if problems do arise, to treat them biocompatibly, in the least invasive ways possible.

Our ultimate goal, after all, is to support whole body health through optimal oral health.

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