As a health conscious individual, you probably already use a natural toothpaste brand free of obvious nasty chemicals such as parabens, propylene glycol, Triclosan, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, and fluoride too. But you may be making assumptions about how healthy it actually is.
- The FDA does not regulate the vast majority of ingredients used in personal care products including toothpaste. This means you need to do your homework and read labels. They regulate a handful of “active ingredients” like fluoride (e.g. stannous fluoride, sodium fluoride, and sodium monofluorophosphate (MFP). Fluoride is classified as a drug, and per the CDC can be poisonous if ingested. It can accumulate in your tissues and bones and has been linked to cancer in several studies. Again, read labels and know what you are putting in your mouth!
- Your oral mucosa (the inside lining of the mouth) can absorb more than 90 percent of what it comes in contact with. So, even if you don’t swallow your toothpaste, it can enter your bloodstream. Make sure your mouth is absorbing beneficial ingredients, like minerals, and nothing potentially harmful.
- Many natural or naturally derived ingredients are bioengineered and GMO, like xylitol, glycerin, citric acid, and sorbitol. If you avoid GMOs in your food it makes sense to avoid them in your toothpaste too.
- Poor oral health, indicated by periodontal (gum) disease and inflammation, is linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other systemic health issues. Most toothpastes do little to help control the bacteria that causes gum disease. Some commercial brands use Triclosan which wipes out both good and bad bacteria, while natural formulas often overlook ingredients that address this specific issue. Although toothpaste is not meant to heal gum disease, it can certainly help prevent it.
- Most Dentists view toothpaste as a cosmetic. Brands market superficial benefits consumers have been trained to expect from toothpaste, like the slippery mouthfeel (glycerin for slickness, gums for texture and surfactants for foaming), strong zesty fresh flavor for bad breath (menthols or artificial flavors), tooth whitening - the whiter the better (hydrated silica or other rough abrasives that can damage enamel) and a pleasing color when it hits the toothbrush (white or even red, blue or green). And of course, everyone expects some level of cavity prevention. From a dentist’s perspective, this is all backward. If you ask a holistic dentist what is most important to oral health, they won’t mention toothpaste, they will likely answer: 1) brushing correctly, and often, 2) flossing every day, 3) taking trace minerals.
Ingredients in toothpaste should have real benefits with no downsides —a healthy mouth is critical to overall health and well-being.
The reality is, many natural toothpaste brands include some not so good ingredients, such as:
- Surfactants (yes, soap) – Some leading natural toothpastes still contain SLS/SLES, a foaming agent that is a carpet bomb to your biome and tainted with harmful chemicals in the manufacturing process. While other popular brands use coconut-derived substitutes, including sodium coco-sulfate, sodium cocoyl glutamate, potassium cocoate, and sodium methyl cocoyl taurate which are not safe to swallow. There is little or no data on the safety of these alternatives, so it is probably better to avoid them. Besides, you don’t need soap in your toothpaste.
- Preservatives - Sodium benzoate is also known as potassium benzoate and benzoate, is billed as the safer alternative to parabens, but it is suspected to cause damage to mitochondrial DNA, and some researchers see a link with cancer, particularly when it combines with vitamin C or E to form benzene, a known carcinogen. Citric acid is a better natural alternative, but it is likely GMO unless otherwise stated. Some toothpastes, like Akamai Mineral Toothpaste use essential oils and clay to keep mold and bad bacteria at bay.
- Carrageenan – Derived from seaweed, carrageenan is a common thickening agent in natural toothpastes that help improve the texture and reduce the water content. Animal studies suggest that consumption leads to intestinal inflammation and colon tumors. While adults are unlikely to swallow their toothpaste, when it comes to kids’ toothpaste best to steer clear. This ingredient, along with similar gums, does not benefit oral health.
- Glycerin – A natural ingredient derived from vegetable oils and a byproduct of soap production, glycerin is added to toothpaste to create a pleasant texture and add that slippery mouthfeel. Unfortunately, it leaves a coating on the teeth, which not only inhibits the natural process of remineralization, it is a magnet for plaque. Glycerin is also typically produced from GMO vegetable oils. Of all of the natural ingredients in toothpaste, this is the worst for oral health. Brushing with a natural toothpaste that has glycerin is completely counterproductive.
- Hydrated Silica – Used to remove debris and stains, this common abrasive is a component of sand. Over time, it can scratch and damage your tooth enamel and may prevent tooth remineralization by changing your mouth’s acidic balance. There are other, less abrasive alternatives, like clays that gently polish without compromising enamel.
Take this comparison to top-selling Tom's for example:
We believe if you aspire to achieve true health, then choose a toothpaste that is truly healthy. Choose one that utilizes, only high-quality natural ingredients (and nothing else):
- Ideally in their whole form (e.g. look for “cold-pressed”, “unfiltered”, “unrefined” — basically not overly processed).
- The ingredients themselves come from trusted suppliers (organic, pure, potent forms— adhering to good manufacturing practices and quality controls).
- Ultize ingredients like food-grade clays, essential oils, trace minerals, sea salt, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), coconut oil, aloe, neem, folate, and others.
- The toothpaste you find may cost a little more, but well worth the investment!
More about Fluoride:
DISCLAIMER: *These statements have not been verified by the FDA. This product is not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease.
This site offers health, wellness, and nutritional information and is intended for educational purposes only. Readers should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Any concerns or questions about your health should always be directed to a physician or other health-care professional. Do not disregard, avoid or delay obtaining medical or health related advice from your healthcare professional because of something you may have read on this site. The use of this information on this site is solely at your own risk. Nothing stated or posted on this site or available through any services are intended to be, and must not be taken to be, the practice of medical or counseling care. For purposes of this agreement, the practice of medicine and counseling includes, without limitation, psychiatry, psychology, psychotherapy, or providing health care treatment, instructions, diagnosis, prognosis or advice.