Do you read the back of your toothpaste tube? You should.
There’s actually a warning to keep it out of the reach of children. It goes even farther to say that if more than what is needed for brushing is swallowed to contact the poison control center immediately. Keep in mind, this means anything more than a pea sized dollop of toothpaste.
What’s more, there’s more than one reason for this warning. In fact, there are several toxic ingredients in the tasty goo we scrub our teeth with. Even if you aren’t eating it like candy (or accidentally swallowing it), you are scrubbing what is one of the most absorbent areas of your body with it. And over time, twice a day (I know you brush at least twice a day, right?), this is just one more way we add to the toxic load in the body.
My favorite alternative is Redmond’s Earthpaste, (especially when I’m busy!) however, if you have the time, making your own really is simple and cheap. I’ll be including some recipes soon & update this here when they’re posted! Stay tuned!
Toxic Ingredients Commonly Found In Toothpaste
The following are just some of the toxic ingredients you’ll find in most toothpastes on the shelf:
- Microbeads: These little boogers are tiny plastic pellets found in body washes, facial scrubs, toothpaste, and more. Yes, you read that right. P-l-a-s-t-i-c. Not only is this bad if you or your child are swallowing them, but they have been known to get stuck in little crevices (and sometimes under gums), trapping bacteria. Honestly, there is no need for these decorative little bits of polyethylene to be there in the first place. Many companies are beginning to phase microbeads out as there was a federal ban proposed and passed in December, 2015, to begin mid-2017 for toothpastes and other “rinse-off” products. (Until then… buyer beware!)
- Propylene Glycol: This is a colorless, odorless, thick liquid used to make other glycols and polyester resins, as a solvent, and in pharmaceuticals, brake and hydraulic fluids, anti-freezes, flavorings and perfumes. Research on the safety of propylene glycol in personal care products is lacking, although it’s a known skin, eye, and lung irritant and may cause organ system toxicity. I’m pretty sure we can do without this in our toothpaste.
- Triclosan: Triclosan is actually only found in Colgate Total. But because it’s such a popular toothpaste, and this is such a serious ingredient, I wanted to include it. The chemical has been linked to concerns over antibiotic resistance and endocrine disruption.Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are a serious concern, as they can promote a wide variety of health problems, including breast, ovarian, prostate, and testicular cancer, preterm and low birth weight babies, precocious puberty in girls, and undescended testicles in boys.
According to NRDC.org: People who brushed their teeth with Colgate Total had more than five times as much triclosan in their urine as people who didn’t use it.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): SLS is a surfactant, which is a chemical that responsible for the foaming action of the toothpaste. One of the main problems with SLS is that the manufacturing process (ethoxylation) results in it being potentially contaminated with dioxane, a carcinogenic byproduct. The manufacturing process also releases carcinogenic volatile organic compounds into the environment. SLS is also registered as an insecticide, which of course makes perfect sense that it would be in your toothpaste…*dripping sarcasm. According to Dr. Mercola, the manufacturers tried to get it marketed as an organic pesticide, but the application was denied because of its potential for environmental damage.
- Diethanolamine (DEA): DEA is found in many foaming products such as toothpaste. It’s a known hormone disrupter and can react with other ingredients to form a potential carcinogen called NDEA (N-nitrosodiethanolamine), which is readily absorbed through the skin and has been linked with cancers of the stomach, esophagus, liver, and bladder.
- Sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners are added to make the toothpastes more palatable. Saccharine, the most commonly used sweetener, was linked to cancer as far back as the 70’s. Aspartame, another artificial sweetener, can cause side effects such as headaches, ear buzzing, dizziness, nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances, weakness, vertigo, chills, memory lapses, numbness, and shooting pains in the extremities, behavioral disturbances, and neuritis. Oh, and it’s also considered a neurotoxin… just in case the chronic conditions weren’t enough.
- Artificial Dyes: Dyes including (but not limited to) FD&C Blue #1, D&C Yellow #10, many of which have been linked to anything from behavior and attention disorders to a variety of tumors (ex: adrenal, urinary, kidney, brain).
- Thickeners: Carrageenan is a common thickener/stabilizer in many toothpastes which, according to recent studies, has been linked to inflammation, diabetes and cancer.
- Fluoride: Saving the worst for the last, fluoride. According to a 500-page scientific review, fluoride is an endocrine disruptor that can affect your bones, brain, thyroid gland, pineal gland and even your blood sugar levels. There have been over 34 human studies and 100 animal studies linking fluoride to brain damage, including lower IQ in children, and studies have shown that fluoride toxicity can lead to a wide variety of health problems, including: thyroid disease, arthritis, dementia, bone fractures, bone cancer (osteosarcoma), increased tumor and cancer rate, disrupted immune system, inactivates 62 enzymes and inhibits more than 100, inhibited formation of antibodies, damaged sperm and increased fertility, genetic damage and cell death, increased lead absorption, disrupts synthesis of collagen, hyperactivity and/or lethargy, and muscle disorders. Just a few little things.
Chocolate Toothpaste Works Better Than Fluoride
According to an article by Dr. Mercola, a study presented to the ADA in 2013 compared fluoride toothpaste to one that contained the naturally-occurring cacao extract theobromine. The results showed that patients who brushed their teeth with the cacao-extract toothpaste twice a day for one week had “100 percent dental occlusion” with their tooth dentin becoming re-mineralized or repaired. In fact, according to a press release:
The comparison to toothpastes containing fluoride – one as much as 5,000 ppm [parts per million] – validates what our research has shown all along: that Rennou [the cocoa extract] … is more effective and safer than fluoride, which can be toxic if ingested.
Just in case you happened to zone out there… chocolate beat fluoride toothpaste in a head-to-head battle. Chocolate!
In wrapping this up, the typical toothpaste is clearly full of junk that is not only not necessary, but can be harmful. It seems rather silly to buy toxic toothpaste when there are alternatives available like Redmond Earthpaste or Himalaya. One more point to make, there are a handful of ‘better’ toothpastes at the health food store and natural grocery stores for you to choose from. Just make sure to read the ingredients lists and never, ever assume that because you’re shopping at a healthier place the product is good. There are many that may not have fluoride, but still have SLS, etc. Be a label reader! Isn’t your family worth it?
To learn more about the dangers of fluoride, check out the documentary “Fluoride: Poison On Tap”.