Misconceptions with Popular Ingredients

Misconceptions with Popular Ingredients in Dental Products: A Holistic Perspective

Shannon Korczynski

6/9/20246 min read

Welcome to a transformative journey towards understanding the truth about dental health. In today's world, many popular dental products promise whiter teeth, fresher breath, and fewer cavities. However, from a holistic and biological dental perspective, it's vital to scrutinize these ingredients and their impact on the oral microbiome and overall health. In this blog post, we'll debunk common misconceptions about several widely used ingredients: xylitol, charcoal, coconut oil, nano-hydroxyapatite, essential oils, and fluoride. Our goal is to advocate for the protection of the microbiome and the use of minimally processed ingredients to truly enhance your oral health.


Misconception: Xylitol is universally beneficial for preventing cavities and promoting oral health.

Reality: While xylitol is often praised for its ability to reduce the incidence of cavities by inhibiting the growth of Streptococcus mutans, the reality is more complex. The production of xylitol often involves the use of GMO crops and industrial processing, which can have environmental and ethical implications. Xylitol is typically produced through an industrial process that involves the hydrogenation of xylose, which is often derived from GMO corn. This level of processing raises concerns about the purity and naturalness of xylitol as a dental care ingredient.

Moreover, xylitol's ability to inhibit Streptococcus mutans can disrupt the oral microbiome's balance, potentially causing an overgrowth of harmful bacteria. In a healthy mouth, Streptococcus mutans is part of the natural bacterial community in dental plaque and doesn't cause harm. Disrupting this balance can lead to issues. Xylitol also prevents healthy dental plaque from forming and attaching to the root surface near the gum line, where it provides protection. Additionally, consuming large amounts of xylitol can cause gastrointestinal issues like bloating, gas, and diarrhea due to its fermentation by gut bacteria.

Holistic Approach: Instead of relying on xylitol, focus on a balanced diet rich in natural, unprocessed foods that support overall health and a balanced oral microbiome. Incorporate fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) as recommended by Weston A. Price standards to promote strong, healthy teeth. Regular home care practices with truly natural products can aid nutrition in preventing cavities without disrupting the microbiome.


Misconception: Activated charcoal is a safe and effective method for teeth whitening.

Reality: Charcoal's abrasive nature can abrade and erode tooth enamel over time, leading to increased sensitivity and vulnerability to cavities. The Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA) scale measures the abrasiveness of dental products, with values above 100 considered highly abrasive. Many charcoal toothpastes exceed this value, causing enamel abrasion and erosion with prolonged use. Furthermore, there is little evidence supporting its effectiveness in whitening teeth more than standard toothpaste.

Charcoal can cause enamel damage and gum irritation, potentially leading to gum recession and exposing the roots of the teeth, which increases the risk of periodontal disease. It can also leave a black residue on the gums and between teeth, which may be difficult to remove and contribute to staining over time. Some charcoal products may contain chemical contaminants or impurities, especially if not sourced from high-quality materials, introducing harmful substances into the mouth. Activated charcoal can bind to essential nutrients, potentially causing deficiencies, dehydration, constipation, and even vomiting. Although it can bind to toxic elements in the gut, it does not remove toxins from the mouth or prevent tooth decay or gum disease. The abrasiveness of charcoal toothpaste can expose the yellowish dentin layer under the enamel, leading to increased tooth sensitivity and easier staining.

Holistic Approach: For teeth whitening, consider natural alternative whitening products with food-grade ingredients. Focus on nutrition and food as a whitening modality—feeding the gut feeds the teeth, ultimately whitening them from the inside out. Ensuring good oral hygiene and a diet low in staining foods can also help maintain naturally white teeth. Additionally, consult with a holistic dental health coach or biological dentist for personalized recommendations and safe, effective whitening treatments.

Coconut Oil

Misconception: Coconut oil, particularly for oil pulling, is a cure-all for oral health issues.

Reality: While coconut oil has some antimicrobial properties, its effectiveness in treating or preventing oral health issues is often overstated. Overuse can disrupt the delicate balance of the oral microbiome, crucial for maintaining oral health and remineralizing teeth. Furthermore, the results seen in traditional or ancient practices may not translate directly to modern use, as diet, lifestyle, and our genetic makeup have evolved significantly through the ages. Coconut oil alone will not cure a toothache or heal cavities. Achieving these outcomes typically requires a multifactorial approach. Each person's pain or cavity is a different manifestation of a disease process, and what works for one person will not work for all. Additionally, coconut oil can cause allergies or sensitivities in some individuals, leading to oral discomfort or dermatitis around the mouth. The practice of oil pulling carries a risk of aspiration, which can lead to lipoid pneumonia if oil is inhaled into the lungs.

Holistic Approach: Oil pulling can be used occasionally as a supplementary practice, but it should not replace regular brushing and flossing. Opt for a balanced approach that includes a varied diet and natural oral care products that support microbial balance.


Misconception: Nano-hydroxyapatite is a safe and superior alternative to fluoride for remineralizing teeth.

Reality: Nano-hydroxyapatite, marketed as a healthier alternative to fluoride, can adhere to existing hydroxyapatite in teeth to fill in holes, potentially reducing root sensitivity and repairing early tooth decay. While it shows promise in reducing sensitivity, studies suggest it may not be effective in actually remineralizing tooth structure and might not be as effective as natural dietary minerals for repairing enamel. Additionally, these nanoparticles can penetrate cellular tissues in the body, potentially becoming cytotoxic and disrupting the balance of healthy gut bacteria. There are also concerns about their ability to penetrate all cells, including those in the gut and DNA, raising long-term safety questions. The production and disposal of nanoparticles can impact ecosystems and water sources, with their full environmental effects not yet understood. Unless specifically stated as vegan-sourced or from grass-fed cattle, nano-hydroxyapatite typically comes from factory-farmed diseased cattle bones, processed into microcrystalline particles and then chemically transformed into nanoparticles, making the final product far from "natural."

Holistic Approach: Focus on a diet rich in minerals and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) as recommended by Weston A. Price standards to naturally support enamel health. Regular dental check-ups, optimum nutrition, and good oral hygiene practices can help maintain strong enamel without the need for synthetic remineralizing agents.

Essential Oils

Misconception: Essential oils are entirely safe and beneficial for oral health.

Reality: While essential oils like tea tree and peppermint oil have antimicrobial properties, their potency can also disrupt the oral microbiome when used excessively. Patients who use essential oils routinely have been observed to experience more inflammation and bleeding, such as gingivitis, as well as bad breath. The high potency of essential oils can lead to overuse, disrupting the natural balance of the oral microbiome and causing oral tissue irritation and increased sensitivity. Additionally, some individuals may have allergic reactions to certain essential oils, resulting in oral discomfort, swelling, or other adverse reactions. The quality and concentration of essential oils can vary significantly between products, leading to inconsistent results and potential safety concerns. Furthermore, essential oils can interact with certain medications, potentially causing adverse effects, which is particularly important for individuals on specific medication regimens.

Holistic Approach: Use essential oils sparingly and only to treat diagnosed conditions of overgrowth. Treat for resolution and then return to maintaining bacterial balance as soon as feasible. Always dilute essential oils properly and opt for oral care products that use them in safe, balanced concentrations.


Misconception: Fluoride is necessary for preventing cavities and should be a staple in dental care products.

Reality: Although fluoride can help prevent cavities, its overuse has been linked to dental fluorosis and other health issues. Fluoride creates a hard outer shell that blocks the flow of dentinal fluid when in the natural detox state. This hard covering does not actually strengthen the tooth; it creates an armor that can make teeth more brittle over time. This is especially concerning for those who clench or grind their teeth, putting them at higher risk of chipping and breaking teeth. Additionally, fluoride has been associated with detrimental effects on immune function and neurological processes. Some studies suggest that fluoride exposure may be linked to neurodevelopmental issues, particularly in children, with ongoing research investigating the potential connection between fluoride exposure and reduced IQ levels. Fluoride has also been shown to affect thyroid function, potentially leading to hypothyroidism or other thyroid-related conditions. Chronic exposure to high levels of fluoride can result in skeletal fluorosis, causing pain and damage to bones and joints. Fluoride can accumulate in the body over time, particularly in bones and teeth, raising long-term health concerns. There is finally debates about the overall efficacy of fluoride in preventing cavities, with holistic experts arguing that improvements in dental health are more attributable to better oral hygiene practices and access to dental care rather than fluoride use.

Holistic Approach: Focus on maintaining a diet that supports oral health and use fluoride-free toothpaste. Regular dental visits and good oral hygiene practices can effectively identify deficiencies and help to prevent cavities without the need for fluoride.


Our bodies thrive on whole foods and minimally processed ingredients. Products that come from and are sourced from nature have life-giving properties. Highly processed, synthetic, and byproduct ingredients are not recognized by our bodies as healing, and therefore any benefits we wish to attain cannot be healthy or sustained by skipping steps and cutting corners in evoking our innate healing. Protecting and supporting the oral microbiome and using minimally processed ingredients are essential for holistic dental health. By debunking these common misconceptions, we can make informed decisions about our oral care routines. Avoiding antimicrobials unless treating an active infection and fostering gut and oral health through natural, balanced practices will lead to healthier teeth and gums in the long run.

Let's continue this journey together!