Glycerin and Remineralization of Teeth

How to cure tooth decay is a hot topic these days and there is a lot of mixed information to sift through.  Especially with internet resources and online opinions galore, it can take hours and hours to sift through information and still come up with more questions.  One resource that has come up several times by my patients is the book “Cure Tooth Decay” by Ramiel Nagel.  I have read this book and been preparing a series of blog entries to discuss the information in the book and provide the best, unbiased response that I can that incorporates openness to alternate theories as well as my clinical experiences and scientific research.

Prior to starting this blog series, I want to address an issue that has come up multiple times including some recent newspaper articles.  This is the theory that glycerin prevents remineralization of tooth enamel and therefore should not be used in products designed for cleaning teeth.  I have seen statements made that it takes 23 + rounds of brushing to remove the glycerin from the teeth.  Further, that the glycerin prevents the teeth from remineralizing.

In my research on this I have found no scientific study that has been done on this topic.  In fact, this theory all seems to come from statements from a Dr. Judd who is a chemist (note, chemist, not medical doctor, and not a dentist, but a chemist).  Based on the fact that Dr. Judd is a chemist, and not a dentist, he does not have the same exposure to tooth decay and remineralization in the real world that a dentist does.  Further, as a chemist, it would stand to reason that he would understand the chemical properties of glycerin and have done scientific studies to prove his claims.  Unfortunately, he offers no such studies to support his claims.

My take on the issue:

I suspect Dr. Judd made his claim based on the properties of pure glycerin by itself.  I could potentially see that pure glycerin in large quantity could perhaps coat the teeth and take a significant time to be removed.  It may also be possible for the glycerin to coat thick enough to prevent minerals from passing through, but this would affect it both ways preventing both demineralization as well as remineralization of the teeth.  So would it not stand to reason that coating the teeth in glycerin would be a good thing if applied before eating and drinking acidic things?

There are definite problems in his theory, and he does not take into account that the glycerin in toothpastes is small in quantity and mixed in with multiple other ingredients. One must always consider how ingredients will interact with others and the resulting impact on its overall properties.  With the glycerin mixed in with all the other ingredients, I do not see how it is possible for the glycerin to form an nice, thick, even coating on the teeth when so well mixed in a toothpaste mixture.

Another aspect not referenced in his publications that I have read is the fact that glycerin is found in the vast majority of soaps.  When soap is fabricated, glycerin is produced, and in general, is not removed.  Only in certain specialty soaps does the soap go through an extra process that removes the glycerin to produce a glycerin free soap.  Based on this, if you want to believe Dr. Judd’s theory, you will want to ensure the soap you use is truly glycerin free.  Further, it would then stand to reason that Dr. Judd would know what he is recommending and ensure to inform people to be careful to get glycerin free soap.

From a clinical standpoint, Dr. Judd’s theory does not stand up.  I have many patient’s for which we were able to achieve remineralization of teeth and cavity prevention while using conventional toothpastes.  Further, I have seen many of Dr. Judd’s claims about dental decay not stand up to what is seen clinically on a daily basis.  This, combined with no scientific evidence to back his claims, makes it very hard to put any stock into what he says so strongly as fact.  I don’t question his intention, but without any science, much of which he was qualified to produce himself, I can not trust his claims that go against main stream conventions, nor recommend those practices be followed.

It is up to each person to decide for themselves how to proceed with the glycerin debate and I hope my insights help to provide a more informed decision when analyzing the information available.

For the next blogs, keep an eye out for my series on the book “Cure Tooth Decay” by Ramiel Nagel.

Comments are closed.