If you’ve ever had mouth sores, chronic chapped lips, or tender gums, you’re not alone. Thousands of people with otherwise good oral health deal with these uncomfortable issues and have no idea what causes them. Surprisingly, it could be your toothpaste.
Even if you typically have good hygiene, maintain a balanced diet, and are careful to avoid the top 10 toxic ingredients in your body care and makeup, it’s important to consider the impact and ingredients of your toothpaste. Although it may not seem like a big deal since it’s not ingested, ingredients (both good and bad) are quickly absorbed through your gums into your bloodstream, giving any toxic ones a greater chance to do more harm.
You might be wondering if it’s really possible to get a good, clean mouth with the use of anything other than the standard products you see on the shelves in stores today – and the good news is, yes, there is! The combination of brushing with any toothpaste and a toothbrush is what loosens and removes the build-up of plaque from teeth and gums, polishes teeth to a healthy glow, and freshens breath – which means you can use a more natural product and still achieve those results!
What Ingredients Does Your Toothpaste Really Need?
Most basic toothpaste formulas contain some sort of polishing agent to clean debris from teeth and occasionally contain fluoride to strengthen teeth against cavities. There has been much controversy over whether or not toothpastes should have fluoride in them at all to help prevent cavities, since excessive fluoride can easily cause discoloration of the teeth in children, and any amount of fluoride swallowed can be harmful. Even if you do forego fluoridated toothpaste, guess what? Fluoride is already present in virtually all drinking water, tea, and in the foods we eat, anyway, making exposure to it part of daily life. In essence, you can minimize your exposure to it, but not completely eliminate its sources.
Other ingredients you might find in toothpaste are a surfactant to help with lathering, an antibacterial agent to neutralize bacteria, a mineralizer to reform enamel, or a flavorant to give it a distinctive taste.
Because there are so many varieties, it’s best to read through the list of ingredients found in that tube, paste, powder, or gel you might buy from the store. If you want to have a natural toothpaste, then avoid buying products with these ingredients:
- Microbeads as a polishing agent. These are tiny plastic pellets that serve as an abrasive compound to help polish teeth, and they are notorious for getting stuck down the drain of your sink as well as under the gums and in between your teeth. Avoid these at all costs!
- SLS’s or Propylene Glycol as surfactants. SLS’s are commonly listed as sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, or sodium lauryl ether sulfate, and are used to help lather the toothpaste, but in the process they can also disrupt your tongue’s taste buds, distorting the flavors of the food you eat after brushing. Not only do they cause canker sores, but they are also known carcinogens. Propylene glycol is a mineral oil known for causing everything from eye and skin irritation, to damage and irritation to the lungs and other organs.
- DEAs. Diethanolamine is a foaming agent in personal care products and toothpastes, and is a known carcinogen and hormone disruptor.
- Triclosan. It might seem like a good idea to have an antibacterial agent keep the bad bacteria from your mouth from causing plaque on the teeth and gums, but the average mouth contains over 6 million good and bad bacteria, and brushing teeth twice a day already helps keep bacteria under control. Triclosan in toothpaste can interfere with your immune system, disrupt your hormones, and cause cancer.
- Artificial Sweeteners. The human body is not designed to break down the compounds found in artificial sweeteners, which is why so often the result of consuming flavorants containing any artificial sweeteners – including aspartame – can lead to a variety of adverse reactions including nausea, dizziness, headaches, and ringing in the ears.
If you prefer, you can have wonderfully clean teeth and healthy gums with non-fluoridated toothpastes made from home. Here are two effective recipes to try with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry:
- Add 1 tsp baking soda + 1 drop of lemon or peppermint oil + enough water to form a paste. Brush teeth and rinse.
- Combine ½ cup of softened coconut oil + 2-3 TBS baking soda + 1-2 tsp stevia +20 drops of cinnamon or peppermint oil. Dip toothbrush bristles into formula or apply directly onto toothbrush with a spoon. Brush teeth and rinse.
By using a safer, healthier toothpaste, you and your family will achieve better whole-body wellness without any harmful side-effects!