by Dr. Pooneh Ramezani, DDS
Favorite toothpastes, even many that claim to be "natural," contain harmful ingredients including carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and inflammatory agents. So before you pick up another “natural” toothpaste, make sure to review the ingredient list and be on the lookout for these not-so-fabulous four.
4 Ingredients to Avoid in “Natural” Toothpaste
Though you don't usually swallow or ingest toothpaste, ingredients are still absorbed through the soft tissues of the mouth and can enter into your bloodstream.
Some argue that fluoride, a mineral naturally found in water sources, can help prevent cavities and tooth decay – but not without causing some damage. When too much fluoride is ingested, it can lead to fluoride toxicity. Signs may include:
- skin rashes
- stomach pain
This inorganic compound gives toothpaste it’s pleasant bright, white color. But what's not so pleasant? The harmful effects it can have on your body. Titanium dioxide nanoparticles are able to penetrate into your gums and have toxic reactions in your brain and cause nerve damage. It's also possibly carcinogenic to humans, which means it has the potential to cause cancer.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Also known as SLS, this surfactant or foaming agent is often derived from coconut or palm kernel oil, but is contaminated with toxic byproducts during the manufacturing process. It also has a reputation for causing or irritating existing allergies and increasing painful canker sore outbreaks.
Extracted from red seaweeds, this substance is used for its thickening and stabilizing properties. It has no nutritional value and because it can cause symptoms like digestive troubles and skin rashes, it shouldn't be consumed regularly.
Your Guide to Safe Oral Care Products
Have you ever looked at the warning label on your toothpaste? Yikes! Here at Dr. Brite, we believe that anything you put in your mouth should be free of toxins, and that goes for toothpaste and mouthwash.
Nontoxic Toothpaste and Mouthwash
With so many oral care options and false marketing claims, it can be really difficult to navigate your way around the toothpaste aisle. Here are some dentist-recommended tips for finding the best toothpaste and mouthwash.
- Stay clear of toothpaste and mouthwash formulas with artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners.
- Part ways with triclosan. In case you haven't heard, this antibacterial compound is banned in soaps but not in toothpaste.
- Say 'goodbye' to propylene glycol. This mineral oil is also used in antifreeze, not exactly something you want to put in your mouth is it?
- It’s really best to avoid anything artificial at all costs, like preservatives such as parabens.
- Always go for a mouthwash that's alcohol-free. These can be very drying and irritate your soft tissues.
Whiten Without Chemicals
Regular brushing and flossing help keep your teeth clean and healthy, but you may want to brighten your smile. Teeth whitening and bleaching chemicals in traditional products can damage your enamel, irritate your gums, cause increased tooth sensitivity and uneven color. Instead opt for a better alternative with natural ingredients to help polish those pearly whites! Here are three agents to look for in teeth whitening solutions:
- Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that help get rid of plaque and bacteria, both major contributors to yellow teeth.
- Activated charcoal is a highly porous substance that binds toxins and adsorbs tannins (pigments found in various food and drink), while removing stains and whitening teeth in the process.
- Food-grade hydrogen peroxide gently penetrates your tooth's enamel, altering the tooth's color beyond its natural shade by affecting the dentin layer of your teeth.
The EWG Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database
If you're looking for a great reference, check out EWG's Skin Deep® database where you can easily browse by cosmetic category or search for a specific product to find out about the ingredients and company's animal testing policies. They also have a user-friendly smartphone app that comes in handy while shopping for personal care items!
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