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The glycerin theory

On Health & Drugs & Medications » Dental

6,827 words with 7 Comments; publish: Thu, 13 Dec 2007 23:43:00 GMT; (90062.50, « »)

I often read that supposedly glycerin 'coats' the teeth and prevents remineralization. Being a research and evidence-based mind :), I've been looking for concrete information on if this actually happens. The only references I can see online about this all fall back on a book written by Dr. Gerard F. Judd, and I don't see where he gets this information from (I don't have the book, BTW).

Based on my knowledge and use of glycerin (I use it in body and hair products, and I make soap), glycerin is a water-soluble humectant. It dissolves away in water, but products made with glycerin (I'm speaking of lotions and such here), help retain moisture on the surface that it is applied if they are not rinsed off. I've also seen some online references without any research to back it up that glycerin in tooth products dry the teeth out. While it is true that undiluted glycerin will actually draw moisture out of what it's applied to (such as skin or hair) rather than help moisturize as it normally would when diluted, it is rarely used in a concentrated form and the saliva in the mouth would provide moisture to prevent that. Glycerin is also a by-product in soapmaking, and not found only in 'glycerin' soaps. So most tooth soaps would still contain glycerin- many times it may not be listed on a label as labeling laws for 'true' soap (oils+lye+water=saponified oil+glycerin+small amounts of excess water and oil) are not as stringent as for other body care products. The exception would be most commercial soaps which usually have the glycerin extracted to be used for other products, however these usually have other undesirable ingredients added that you wouldn't want to use in your mouth.

I was doing some searching on pubmed regarding glycerin and teeth, and from what I can see it is actually a good vehicle for transporting calcium ions through the various parts of the teeth. For example, this (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=14760904&query_hl=1&itool=pubmed_docsum) excerpt. So I was wondering if there is any evidence on the claims that glycerin will stay on the teeth for 20 rinses and prevent remineralization. I would think that the oils used in toothpaste (such as peppermint, etc) would be more coating as they are not water-soluble. I don't mean any disrespect to anyone with this post, just wanted to get some info :).

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    • My research is congruent with your thoughts, birdiefu. I have been contemplating this same subject and I'm really interested to hear the responses. We use Weleda toothpastes which all contain glycerin but no SLS or other junk. I want to make an educated decision about my next move in this situation.
      #1; Tue, 11 Dec 2007 17:40:00 GMT
    • I think some of the "theory" comes from Weston Price research. Also being empirically minded, I have my doubts about much of the the WP foundation. For a while I was thinking this was a "safe rather than sorry" issue, but then I realized: I've experienced remineralization while using tons of glycerin products. So has my son. So have a LOT of people who have had remin, considering glycerin is in almost every tooth product. I think it's a little tidbit that was picked up by folks immersed in WP research, and that has been spread around by word of mouth. Of course, that's just MY "theory" :lol
      #2; Tue, 11 Dec 2007 17:41:00 GMT
    • I am in agreement with you about WPF, maybeknott.

      I'm curious about something else you said, though. You phrased re-mineralization as something you "experienced". Will you elaborate on that a little? Thanks. :)

      #3; Tue, 11 Dec 2007 17:42:00 GMT
    • Sure. Experienced, in the sense that my teeth have remineralized. The soft spots have hardened to the point where my teeth are unsightly, but hard and strong in some spots. My sons decayed teeth have also remineralized.

      Now, sadly I'd have to say that fluoride probably played a big part in the reminerialization, but it would be safe to say that most of the products that we've used have had glycerin in them. Just because you have to go out of your way to find tooth products that don't. My son's teeth remineralized because we've been aggressively treating them. I have no idea why mine remineralized, as I hadn't any idea I had decay at the time, and only found out about it when i was told that my teeth had remineralized.

      #4; Tue, 11 Dec 2007 17:43:00 GMT
    • I'm glad to hear of your remineralization! I'm working on helping out my DS's teeth and we are using Oravive toothpaste, also dipping it in xylitol and giving xylitol through the day. I've been giving him CLO for a while though for his apraxia, and was happy to see that may help with his teeth too. It is so hard to avoid glycerin in tooth products, and though I do agree with some of the newer views (like WP), I think some of them may not be quite true.

      I'm so glad that we don't have fluoridated water here in Germany, though :). I think flouride can have it's purpose used topically in some situations, but that it's overused way too much in general.

      #5; Tue, 11 Dec 2007 17:44:00 GMT
    • The thing that bothers me about the glycerin theory is that it assumes we absorb nutrients through our teeth. I always thought that nutrients/minerals were absorbed during digestion and routed to where they were needed by the bloodstream. Sort of like how they can be taken from your teeth during pregnancy to help the fetus grow if you aren't consuming enough of them. Does anyone have any links that explains how nutrients/minerals are absorbed by our teeth? I'm open to learning more. I just always thought that remineralization was from the inside out and not from the outside of the tooth in.


      #6; Tue, 11 Dec 2007 17:45:00 GMT
    • Diet is very important for tooth health for many reasons, especially while the tooth is developing in the jaw. However, once the tooth is formed and erupted, the enamel is not affected by blood circulation (it doesn't have access to it). Instead, the ions and acid/base level of saliva provide a diffusion process through the enamel through which mineralization/demineralization occurs. In this case, the environment of the mouth plays a key role in dental health- which of course diet plays a huge part in. Not only what foods go into the mouth, but overall diet and health effect the mineral ion concentrations in the saliva.

      Info- http://mizar5.com/demin.htm

      Commercial, but the info is correct- http://www.eco-dent.com/Remin%20screen.pdf

      Probably pretty dry, but some research- http://gsa.ada.org/search?entqr=0&access=p&output=xml_no_dtd&sort=date%3AD%3AL%3Ad1&ie=UTF-8&btnG=Search&btnG.y=0&client=ADAorg_FrontEnd&q=mineralization&btnG.x=0&ud=1&site=ADAorg_Collection&oe=UTF-8&proxystylesheet=ADAorg_FrontEnd&ip=

      #7; Tue, 11 Dec 2007 17:46:00 GMT