A patient stumped me the other day on a new toothpaste that is making waves on Facebook. I hate not knowing the latest and greatest of dental technology out there, so I recently spent about 8 hours researching alternatives to the typical toothpastes we see on the shelves of our local supermarkets.
Direct sales has been popular for a long time, and three companies have their own brands of toothpastes: Amway, Arbonne, and Nu-Skin. It was interesting to see how the companies marketed themselves and how they promoted their ingredients. Here is a breakdown of these toothpastes from a dental/clinical point of view. I personally have tried two out of the three.
Amway’s Glister toothpaste promotes an ingredient known as “Sylodent” as a “polishing agent that helps whitens teeth, removes plaque, fights cavities, safely cleans, freshens breath and promotes re-mineralization.”  Sylodent is actually a form of silica specifically used in toothpastes as an abrasive. A lot of toothpastes have Sylodent, such as Tom’s of Maine, Pepsodent, and Biotene Dry Mouth toothpaste. Glister’s active ingredient is .21% Sodium Fluoride, which is slightly higher than the mainstream toothpastes, but it also lists Xylitol as one of its inactive ingredients, presumably used only as a natural sweetener. Xylitol is a plant-based sugar-alcohol and numerous studies have shown Xylitol to be safe and effective in preventing cavities because it is too large of a compound to be used by oral bacteria as a food source.  However, studies have shown that there needs to be at least 10% Xylitol in order to see a reduction of oral bacteria over time, and, ideally, for the product to contain about 36% Xylitol or more. 
Arbonne promotes all of their products to be vegan and all-natural and their toothpaste is no different. Their active ingredient is Xylitol and the rest of their ingredients are: Aloe: anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant antiviral and antifungal actions; reduces bleeding and gum inflammation; Anti-oxidants: white tea, ginger, grape, pomegranate and cranberry extracts, as well as mint and spearmint extracts for taste. Studies show that cranberry extract + Xylitol enhances Xylitol’s anti-cavity effectiveness. 
The newest toothpaste out there is NuSkin’s AP24 Whitening Toothpaste promoting itself to be the only whitening product to be “peroxide free”  as if peroxide is a harmful chemical that should be stayed away from at all costs. Interestingly enough, NuSkin’s active ingredient to be considered a toothpaste is Fluoride. This toothpaste does not have as much Fluoride in it as Amway’s Glister, at .13%, but it also does not market itself as having any Fluoride in it at all. Furthermore, this toothpaste is marketed as being “bleach-free” (ALL FDA-approved toothpastes are bleach-free).
So let’s talk ingredients: all OTC whitening toothpastes have 5% Hydrogen Peroxide or less and tend to have different surface abrasives (silica, alumina, etc.) to remove superficial stains from tooth enamel. In my dental practice I use 1% hydrogen peroxide rinse for my gum disease patients to help prevent bone loss. I strongly encourage these patients to buy 3% hydrogen peroxide at their local store, dilute it to 1%, and rinse with it twice daily for a safe and effective way to keep their gums healthy along with the side effect being of gradual whitening of teeth for those that do not drink a lot of tea and coffee.
Xylitol, unfortunately is not good for those with Crohn’s Disease, IBS, or Graves Disease because, unlike regular sugars that are broken down by our saliva and oral bacteria, Xylitol is broken down in the gut. In fact, Whole foods sells Xylitol powder in their fiber aisle. Also, Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs and potentially other animals, so it is wise to keep any products with any amounts of xylitol in them far out of the reaches of our pets.
Have hypersensitive teeth? Then it is imperative to stay away from “whitening toothpastes” as they contain higher amounts of abrasives that can wear away tooth enamel even more, increasing tooth sensitivity to cold/hots/sweets. Instead, biting into an apple a day can naturally brighten teeth simply with all of its natural fibers. Eating an apple a day, as the saying goes, keeps the doctor away, but biting into a whole apple a day can keep the dentist away!
Bottom line: all three of these toothpastes are safe and effective ways to keep our teeth healthy and happy, along with a low-carb diet, to prevent cavities. Of these three, Arbonne’s toothpaste would potentially be the safest for children and those with sensitive teeth. Amway’s toothpaste has the most Fluoride for those who have a history of a lot of tooth decay. NuSkin’s toothpaste can potentially help to brighten teeth, but, with all of its abrasives, may not be the safest for hypersensitive teeth.
 Diet and the microbial aetiology of dental caries: new paradigms, David J. Bradshaw, Richard J. M. Lynch