There’s no denying the power of a good smile. After all, oral hygiene is a $44.5 billion dollar industry and that number is only projected to grow. This influx of new products hitting shelves paired with the demand for more natural formulations has even the savviest consumers overwhelmed by finding dental care that’s safe yet effective.
Enter: Kourosh Maddahi, DDS, a Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist and founder of Lumineux Oral Essentials, a brand which is completely turning the dental world’s approach to oral health on its head. Dr. Maddahi’s is the first certified non-toxic line of naturally-derived toothpastes, mouthwashes and whitening strips isn’t about destroying the of germs in your mouth. Instead, every product is designed to keep your body’s natural bacteria in the mouth while eliminating any toxic properties. With an efficacy that’s on par with the other industry leaders, sans the harmful or harsh chemicals, Lumineux Oral Essentials is the first of its kind.
That’s why we decided to chat with Dr. Maddahi about his pioneering approach to oral care and what you should know about maintaining a healthy smile.
NewBeauty: What led you to create Lumineux Oral Essentials?
Dr. Maddahi: I’ve been in cosmetic dentistry for thirty-three years, so I do a lot of smile makeovers. As I was treating patients, I continually felt that there were multiple problems due to bleeding and inflammation I couldn’t resolve . When you’re doing crowns or veneers, you shave down teeth and put on acrylic temporaries while the real ones are being made. Acrylic is a natural irritant to gums, so I wanted to find a way to minimize the bleeding when I went in to cement the permanent crowns or veneers. For proper bonding, the gums need to be dry, and despite trying different mouthwashes, I still couldn’t control the inflammation. There wasn’t a product that could.
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NB: How did you go about formulating a mouthwash specifically designed for this irritation?
Dr. Maddahi: I turned to my colleague and world-renown gum surgeon, Dr. Hessam Nowzari, for advice and he recommended using sea salt and water. It was surprising. I said, ‘How can you be a top Beverly Hills periodontist who tells patients to use sea salt and water?’ It turns out, he had done a decade-long study in Manila on homeless children suffering from advanced gum disease. He told the kids to rub sea salt on their gums twice a day and followed their progress for the next ten years. What happened was the gum disease stopped, yet the bacteria was still present, demonstrating that the bacteria alone wasn’t to blame.
Because of this, I looked at different salts. Dead Sea salt caught my eye since it had an eighty-six percent mineral base—and I wanted a high mineral content because teeth are made of minerals. I continued to study exactly what I needed to do to create an optimal, non-toxic environment within the mouth without killing healthy cells. Because essential oils are key to breaking down the plaque that sticks to your teeth, I mixed in mint oils (peppermint, spearmint, and wintergreen) along with clove and basil oils that specifically go after the sulfur-producing compounds that cause bad breath. I also included organic aloe vera juice for its soothing effect on gums, and non-GMO xylitol, that is extracted from a corn or birch tree that’s processed in the laboratory. What makes this type of xylitol a crucial ingredient is that cavity-causing bacteria cannot process it, so as a result, it starves the bacteria, preventing it from growing to unbalanced levels.
I began giving this blend of ingredients to my patients, having them rinse with it twice a day for sixty seconds. The result: When it came time to remove the temporaries there was no irritation from the temporaries themselves, and patients with bleeding gums saw a significant decrease in irritation.
NB: Once you created the formula, how did it go from an in-office mixture to a full-fledged oral care brand that has four different lines: Clean & Fresh, Whitening, Sensitivity and Hydrating?
Dr. Maddahi: Once I developed the original mouth wash along with a complementary toothpaste, I looked to other challenges clients face. First, I saw that patients were becoming more and more sensitive to whitening products, so I wanted to find an alternative to hydrogen peroxide since it breaks down enamel and causes discomfort. I discovered adding coconut, sage and lemon peel oils to my original formulation brightened the appearance of teeth, which led to our whitening mouthwash, toothpaste and strips.
Then I addressed how we handle sensitivity as a whole. Typically, the only ingredients used are either a high dosage of fluoride and/or potassium nitrate. I don’t have fluoride in any of my products, because I believe you’re already inundated with it in drinking water and, therefore, in the food supply. My hypothesis was that if fluoride is one mineral and if Dead Sea salt is eighty-six percent mineral (with thirty-six different mineral types), then Dead Sea salt should be a natural and effective alternative. I doubled down on how much dead sea salt I was putting into the wash and within two weeks of using this new formulation, the reported sensitivity began fading.
As for dry mouth, it’s become an epidemic among patients, because it’s a side effect of many medications (ranging from allergy and blood pressure drugs to antidepressants and more). It’s crucial to combat dry mouth because saliva is your first line of defense in terms of cavity-causing bacteria and disease, which is why I developed a hydrating mouthwash. I used ingredients like coconut oil, grape seed oil, and cayenne pepper oil— which increases saliva.
Finally, I rounded out the Lumineux Oral Essentials line with a hundred-percent biodegradable, bamboo-handled toothbrush with bristles made out of natural castor oil. The bristles are super soft, and they bend as you brush to minimize damage caused by those bristles typically found in most toothbrushes on the market . I wanted a toothbrush that wouldn’t hurt the gums even if the patient wasn’t brushing properly.
NB: Not only has the average consumer heard of most the of the ingredients in Lumineux Oral Essentials, but many of them can also be found within your pantry or at your local natural grocery store. This may have people wondering how your formulas compare to other leading oral care brands. What have your studies proven?
Dr. Maddahi: Because we’re the only oral care line in the world that’s certified non-toxic (meaning we don’t kill any bacteria), I wanted to put my products up against ones that are considered a gold standard in dentistry through a series of clinical studies at UC Irvine. First, I compared my original mouthwash – Clean & Fresh – to Peridex, the only FDA-approved mouthwash. We found that the Clean & Fresh formula’s results were on par with Peridex’s without use of chemicals. You are instructed to not use Peridex for more than two weeks at a time, as it stains teeth and alters your taste buds, whereas you can use our Lumineux mouthwashes every single day.
Then, we compared our whitening strips and mouthwash against Crest 3D’s products and our hydrating mouthwash to Biotène mouthwash. Both tests proved our formulations were just as good, and in the dry mouth trial, our mouthwash actually produced a half milliliter more saliva than Biotène’s. However, I’m most proud of our sensitivity study where we tested against Sensodyne. We took extracted teeth, cutting them into three sections. One was the control and the other two were dipped in acid for twenty-four hours to soften and demineralize the enamel. Each section was put onto a retainer for patients to wear, with one patient rinsing with Sensodyne mouthwash and the other with Lumineux Oral Essentials mouthwash.
We found with the Sensodyne product, there’s no statistical difference between the enamel of the tooth dipped in acid versus the one that was kept out of it—the tooth’s enamel became normal again through hardening and remineralization. Ours did the exact same thing, but without the presence of fluoride in the formula.
NB: These results are interesting because they demonstrate that you can have just as efficacious products without killing any the bacteria. What does this tell us about the mouth’s microbiome and why it should be treated in a similar fashion to gut health?
Dr. Maddahi: I’m against killing bacteria for two main reasons: The first is that if you kill it, you’re going to create resistive bacteria. The second is that only two percent of the bacteria are harmful—the ninety-eight percent is there to protect against disease and for the production of vitamins and important neurotransmitters. For example, look at your gut: It has the highest concentration of microbiome and if it’s altered you get all sorts of problems. Bacteria is good for your well-being, to help protect your mouth. Your body’s first line of defense isn’t your immune system, it’s your oral microbiome. And Lumineux Oral Essentials is the only line of non-toxic oral care products that protect and enhance your body’s healthy oral microbiome.
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