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With dozens of different types of toothpaste on the market today, displaying slogans across their brightly colored boxes like “Triple Whitening Action” and “Extreme Clean,” it can be a daunting task to decide which brand is right for you and your family. But don’t be fooled by flashy catch phrases and over-hyped promises that come “Dentist Recommended.” Behind the pricey marketing ploys hides a list of toxic ingredients, that are quite honestly, completely unnecessary in order to achieve a bright and healthy smile. All you need to do is flip that box over, and you will find out just what’s really in your toothpaste.
Most Common Ingredients In Toothpaste
Mild Abrasives are added to toothpaste to aid in removing debris and surface stains. (Most commonly used mild abrasives include: calcium carbonate, dehydrated silica gels, hydrated aluminum oxides, magnesium carbonate, phosphate salts and silicates.)
Fluoride is used in toothpaste to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay.
Humectants are used to prevent water loss in toothpaste. (Most commonly used humectants include: glycerol, propylene, glycol and sorbitol.)
Flavoring agents are used in toothpaste to provide a pleasant flavor. Flavoring agents do not contribute to or promote tooth decay. (Most commonly used flavoring agents include: Saccharin and Xylitol.)
Thickening agents are used in toothpaste to bind the toothpaste together. (Most commonly used thickening agents include: mineral colloids, natural gums, seaweed colloids and synthetic cellulose.)
Detergents are used in toothpaste to create a foaming action. (Most commonly used detergents include: sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium N-Lauryl sarcosinate.)
This seems like a lot of ingredients just to get your teeth squeaky clean each day. And among these ingredients, there are a lot of questionable chemicals with proven health risks. Let’s take a look at some of the most toxic ingredients commonly found in toothpaste.
While dentists in the United States have hailed fluoride as one of the greatest health achievements of the 20th Century, many are skeptical that it could be contributing to more health issues than doing good. Between fluoridated drinking water and fluoride toothpaste, it appears that Americans might be consuming too much fluoride for their own good. According to a national survey conducted by the CDC, nearly 40% of American teenagers suffer from a condition called “dental fluorosis.” Dental fluorosis is a condition that can lead to streaky, cloudy or brown spots on the tooth enamel, and in some cases, even tooth erosion. Fluorosis is caused by fluoride interfering with tooth- forming cells. As if that’s not enough to make you question your fluoride intake, toxicologist, Dr. John Doull, who chaired the National Academy of Science’s review on Fluoride, concluded in his committee’s 500 page review that fluoride acts as an endocrine disruptor, affecting numerous parts of the body, including the bones, brain, thyroid gland, pineal gland and blood sugar levels. The committee expressed the need for more research on fluoride’s potential contribution to bone disorders, thyroid disease, low intelligence, dementia and diabetes, as little research has been done in the 60+ years that fluoride has been prominent in the United States. A number of studies from China found that children exposed to levels of fluoride deemed safe in the United States had reduced IQ levels. And the US Environmental Protection Agency lists fluoride as a chemical with substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxocity.
While the FDA deems it ‘generally safe” for use in food products, both the EWG and the Agency For Toxic Substances and Disease Registry list propylene glycol as a dermal, renal and respiratory organ system irritant.
Triclosan is an antibacterial agent that has been under scrutiny for years. While is has been deemed safe by the FDA in the past, they are currently researching it further after some worrisome lab results on animals. These studies show that triclosan alters hormone regulation. It is also believed that with long term use, triclosan might play a major role in building human resistance to antibiotics. While many companies are pulling triclosan out of their ingredients in soaps and other body products, it can still be found in some toothpaste.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
While sodium lauryl sulfate is a key ingredient in many toothpaste brands, it is believed to be a major contributor to mouth ulcers and canker sores; and can be a skin irritant with long-term repeated use. When combined with other chemicals, sodium lauryl sulfate can become a class of strong carcinogens called nitrosamines.
DEA or diethanolamine has caused liver and kidney tumors in lab tests in animals, and when combined with certain preservatives, has been known to form into a carcinogen.
So, with all of these potentially harmful ingredients mixed into your favorite toothpaste, you’re probably wondering if there are any safe and healthy options out there. The following is a list of 5 of the most natural toothpastes on the market without all of those toxic ingredients.
While many big name companies market toothpaste like it’s a complete necessity, the truth is, you can clean your teeth just as well without it. Think about what you’re trying to accomplish by brushing your teeth: removing daily plaque. You can remove plaque by brushing your teeth and gums in a circular motion with a dry toothbrush. If you want to freshen your breath and whiten your teeth, try adding a sprinkle of baking soda and some peppermint oil to your toothbrush. This will not only save you money on expensive name brand toothpaste, but it will eliminate unnecessary toxins from your life!
www.livestrong.com “What Are The Harmful Ingredients In Toothpaste?”
www.fluoridealert.org “10 Facts About Fluoride”
www.epa.gov “Building a Database of Developmental Neurotoxicants: Evidence From Human and Animal Studies”
www.fda.gov “Triclosan: What Consumers Should Know”
www.ewg.org -Skin Deep Cosmetic Database
www.atsdr.cdc.gov -Toxic Substances Portal
Photo credit: With A Red Bird On My Shoulder