But so does bad health!
We're so focused on making sure we exercise, eat right, try to manage our stress, track our sleep but sometimes we forget that the small habits also count towards our overall health.
One of those small but significant habits has to do with our oral health and what we use to mantain it. There is a strong connection between oral health and overall health, and the thing that ties it together is one of our most common everyday essentials, toothpaste.
Why should you be worried?
It feels like it doesn't matter so much if there are nasty ingredients in toothpaste because you spit out toothpaste. But it does.
Your mouth is one of the most absorbent parts of your body, so even though toothpaste isn’t something you’re meant to ingest, some of these nasty ingredients in your toothpaste are hanging out in your mouth, killing off the good oral microbiome cultivating in your mouth and readily being absorbed into your bloodstream, doing more harm than good to your teeth and body.
Conventional toothpaste contain many chemicals and toxic ingredients like Triclosan, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Glycerin, Fluoride, Preservatives, Parabens, Artificial Colours and Flavours and Sweeteners that are not safe for consumption. These chemicals also wind up in our waterways (when we spit toothpaste down the sink), disrupting our fragile aquatic life.
What is in your toothpaste?
Let’s look at some of the main nasty ingredients in conventional toothpaste that should be avoided.
Triclosan is now considered a bio persistant pesticide turning up in fish that we eat, breastmilk, waste water. It’s an antibacterial agent and a preservative ingredient in toothpaste that is an endocrine disruptor, immune system toxicant and skin irritant linked to cancer, thyroid issues, antibiotic resistance, and poor heart function.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
SLS are chemicals known as surfactants and as a foaming agents, which help give toothpaste its foaminess. It’s a carcinogen linked to skin irritation, eye irritation, hormonal imbalance, and can damage and interfere with the functioning of the taste buds by breaking up the phospholipids on your tongue.
Glycerin creates a layer of film and coats your teeth, blocking the teeth from being able to absorb nutrients to help with mineralization. It’s like putting cling film on your teeth, which doesn’t allow your teeth to ‘breathe/ heal’ naturally.
Fluoride is a by-product of the manufacturing of copper, aluminium, and iron and is a cumulative poison, which your body cannot detox out. There are a lot of opinions both for and against using fluoride in your toothpaste, but fluoride is linked to gum damage as it damages key enzymes and slows down the natural self-repair mechanisms of the gums, and also negatively affects the nervous system, thyroid, the pineal gland, the bones, gastrointestinal tract, and can lead to inflammation and many cancers. It is considered a neurotoxin, affecting the neurotransmitters in the brain.
DEA is another ingredient in toothpaste used as a pH adjuster and for its foaming properties. It’s banned in the EU as it is carcinogenic and a known endocrine disruptor. It is linked to skin irritations, respiratory issues like asthma, affects the brain and nervous system, and liver and kidney cancers.
Parabens are a preservative in toothpaste that should be avoided as they are hormone disruptors and a possible carcinogen, and affect the brain and nervous systems.
Artificial colours and coloring agents that make your toothpaste look pretty and colourful are generally derived from coal tar and are considered to be toxic. They are linked to health problems such as headaches, asthma, allergies, mental issues such as ADD and ADHD and memory problems, and even cancer.
They're not usually toxic, but there's not much benefit to them. Whereas essential oils have other benefits like antibacterial or antifungal properties, you really don't need artificial flavours. Skip them where possible.
Most conventional toothpaste contains artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, maltodextrin, stevia, or xylitol to mask the taste of other ingredients in toothpaste and enhance the sweet flavour of toothpaste. These artificial sweeteners are 300x sweeter than sugar. Besides being linked to headaches, dizziness, nausea, gastrointestinal tract issues, vertigo, vision problems, memory problems, learning problems, and more, artificial sweeteners produce addictive negative effects in your brain (the release of dopamine) giving you an involuntary sugar hit first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
What are the alternatives?
You do need to brush your teeth, but you don't need to use toxic toothpaste.
Knowing is half the battle, and now that you do know what to avoid, you can make better choices. The good news is there are lots more alternative natural toothpastes available these days to choose from, like ohGiGi's tooth powders.
Even so, start with practicing good dental hygiene first. Brushing twice a day and flossing.
Also, let's not forget that good health and our digestion starts in our mouth, so we want to keep the health of our tongue, mouth and our oral microbiome happy, so try using a tongue scraper and even try oil pulling to draw any bad bacteria and toxins out.