Hi folks, this is my first blog post for Frau Fowler to talk a bit about chemistry! I know, I know, you’re thinking I’ll either bore you to death or you won’t understand what I’m saying. Well, I promise (mostly!) to do neither. I want to take little bit of the fear out of chemistry. I know it’s dorky but chemistry is really a beautiful thing! It’s all around us and totally inside us and its what makes all the biology and the world work. But yes, there is some scary stuff too. Just because we can do a thing doesn’t mean we should do a thing. We and the sciences have come such a long way and the future is scary bright in areas of medicine and technology just to name a couple of areas. The trick is to stay mindful, really understand unintended consequences and think about a ‘global’ good not a narrow good.
OK, enough soap box. Time for a little science. Just a little! Let’s talk about tooth whitening. This is an area where there is good chemistry, corporate chemistry and how much chemistry do I really need all rolled up in one.
Good chemistry – Stannous Fluoride in toothpastes. It serves a useful purpose as a cavity fighter and an anti-bacterial agent for your teeth. But, and this is a BIG but, it stains your teeth to that ugly yellowish/brownish tinge. Did you know that? You also need another chemical to control tartar and so enter…..sodium hexametaphosphate. Say that three times fast!
So, bring in corporate chemistry; remove stannous fluoride and add sodium fluoride. The problem now is that you don’t get the anti-bacterial effect and so you start getting plaque on your teeth (and along the way manufacturers save some money on cost). So, they add in another separate anti-bacterial, Triclosan (5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol), even I have trouble with that chemical name.
How much chemistry do you really need? This is where I get to preach, I mean teach a bit. Frau Fowlers Tooth Powders contain no fluorides at all. Instead, we promote a whole healthy mouth with simple, well researched, easy to pronounce names. Cavities, gingivitis, bad breath, etc., etc., etc., are caused and promoted by acids (from foods and digestion) in your mouth. We use salt and baking soda (for the science folks, Sodium Bicarbonate) and an antacid (think “Tums”) to decrease the acids in your mouth. The baking soda is a very gentle, low abrasive powder that polishes and keeps your teeth white. With decreased acid, the Calcium in the antacid helps re-mineralize your teeth to strengthen them and then, a natural sweetener that helps prevent bacteria from forming.
Now that wasn’t so hard right? A little info, a little chemistry and maybe a little bit more understanding? Let me know what you think!
By Eileen Koop
Frau Fowler Chemist