Tue, November 4, 2008 | Lisa Barger
“What is tooth soap? Is it really soap you use for brushing your teeth?”
Yes. The new liquid soaps that people are using to brush their teeth are all just plain old soap and a surprising number of people are now abandoning standard toothpastes in favor of it.
What Tooth-Brushing Soaps Are Really Made Of
Sold in liquid, shredded bar and even solid bar form, all these “teeth” soaps have one thing in common—they’re all just plain old soap. Often, manufacturers add flavorings like essential oils or natural sweeteners like honey to the mix, but take away all the bells and whistles all these “tooth soaps” are basically the same. In fact, the process of making this dental soap is identical to the process your ancestors used if they made their own bath soaps at home.
Why In The World Would Anyone Brush With Soap?
Proponents of dental soap claim that the glycerin found in most commercial toothpastes prevents the enamel of teeth from remineralizing. Unfortunately, as you’ll see, neither this statement nor the paper it was first made in are very credible.
In a widely-circulated paper supposedly authored by Purdue graduate Gerard F. Judd, a number of claims are made. Among them are the declarations like these:
- No Ugandans under the age of 10 have any cavities.
- Glycerin (a common ingredient in toothpaste) is so sticky that it takes 27 attempts to wash it off. AND …
- This stuck-on glycerin prevents the natural re-mineralization of tooth enamel.
- Ordinary soap kills bacteria and viruses in the mouth.
Now, I could tell you that a 2004 study of 614 Ugandan children PROVED that 84.3% of them reported at least one oral “problem” but I think you’ve heard enough to be skeptical already.
The fact is, I can find absolutely NO scientific evidence to back up these claims. Nor can I find any evidence that this supposed author has published anything in any credible medical or dental journal. Aside from his book, Good Teeth Birth to Death, the only references to him that I can find are on web sites that … drumroll, please … . sell dental soap.
Is There Any Science Behind Dental Soaps?
To my knowledge, there have been no scientific studies proving or disproving that brushing your teeth with soap is especially helpful or harmful to teeth.
Oh, about the “glycerin impedes re-mineralization” argument … the next time someone tells you that they’ve stopped using toothpaste because it has glycerin in it you can tell them that soap has glycerine too. It’s a natural byproduct of the soap making process.
Kiwanuka, S., et al. (2005). Self-Reported Dental Pain and Associated Factors in Ugandan Schoolchildren. Norwegian Journal of Epidemiology.
Judd, G. (2002). Dental Health. Retrieved from reactor-core.org/dental-health.html on November 4, 2008.
This is "retired" article left in place for archival purposes. It may not reflect current thinking or research on the topic.