Good question… You should want to know what you are putting in your mouth! There are important reasons why the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that toothpaste be spat out and not swallowed.
After reading the articles in this series, you will be able to more wisely choose which toothpastes you do and do not want to use and why.
Some of the ingredients in many popular brands of toothpaste are toxic if ingested, or to use at all because of sublingual (under the tongue) absorption. The vast majority of toothpastes on the market should be avoided, especially if young children would be using them.
A little wisdom…
If you would like to enjoy optimal health… when in doubt as to whether you should use a certain health product, ask yourself these 2 questions:
- Is it thought to contribute to optimal health?
- If so, is there any controversy (conflicting data) concerning its effect(s) on health? If so… avoid unless necessary, as there are probably healthier choices.
And now just a few thoughts about consumer products in general, and how that translates into what is in toothpaste.
Everyone knows that toothpastes are formulated to clean teeth, but what everyone does not know is that most often, toothpastes are formulated in the cheapest way possible so the companies that make toothpaste can make more profit from consumer ignorance concerning their number one priority, otherwise known as ‘the corporate bottom line’. I’ll say it again…
consumer ignorance = cheaper ingredients (often translating into less healthy) = more corporate profit!
It is the same bottom line that all big manufacturers these days have… offering today’s consumer products as cheap as possible to make while remaining within the letter of the law… their only real goal is their own profit potential, even if at the expense of your health and wellbeing.
What you are about to learn might come as a shocking surprise or wakeup call to you… especially since it is concerning products that you probably trust are completely safe to put in your body. But then again, everybody knows how unhealthy most beverages and food products are these days… and if the fast food chains can get away with it, why shouldn’t the toothpaste companies?
Well, as I’ve stated before, all this controversy is because of the ‘corporate bottom line’ (aka, the highest profit potential within the letter of the law) … in other words, greed unbridled by any real thought or concern for quality or health. It is the same bottom line that results in keeping consumers buying “new ones” whatever the product might be… cheaply made!
Besides water (making up ~ 20-42% of toothpaste), most toothpastes are made of a variety of components, the 4 categories are:
- other ingredients
Toothpaste abrasives (making up ~ 50%+) are insoluble particles that remove plaque, including hardened plaque (aka., calculus and tartar), thereby preventing cavities and periodontal disease (aka., gingivitis and periodontitis).
Common toothpaste abrasives include:
- aluminum hydroxide,
- calcium carbonate,
- calcium hydrogen phosphates,
- zeolites, and
Sometimes white mica is used as an abrasive and also to impart a glittery shine to the toothpaste.
The “polishing action” referred to by some brands of toothpaste is actually a small amount of enamel erosion, and has not been shown to improve oral health… AVOID toothpastes with POLISHING ACTION!
Toothpaste detergents are also known as surfactants, and are mainly added as foaming agents, so as to improve cleansing effect by providing an even distribution of the toothpaste ingredients.
Common toothpaste detergents include:
- sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)… a controversial ingredient!
There is some research which shows that people with an existing gum condition called recurrent aphthous ulcers may experience more rapid healing if they use a toothpaste without SLS.
Other Toothpaste Ingredients
Toothpastes have other ingredients that include antibacterial agents, antidrying agents, antisensitivity agents, antitartar agents, flavorants, and remineralizers.
Antibacterial Agent… TRICLOSAN
Triclosan is antibacterial and antifungal. While it is not known that Triclosan is a health hazard in humans, there is some controversy concerning it, as it has been found to be an endocrine disrupter (alters or interferes with the hormone system in mammals. Interestingly enough, the pineal gland is a part of the endocrine system, and Triclosan is not the only toothpaste ingredient to negatively effect it… fluoride calcifies the pineal gland,
Triclosan might also contribute to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
In light of these findings, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing all of the available evidence regarding Triclosan’s safety in consumer products, and they have also partnered with other federal government agencies to study the effects of Triclosan on animal and environmental health. Until it is determined to be safe… AVOID toothpastes with TRICLOSAN!
Antidrying agents included various sugar alcohols such as glycerol, sorbitol, xylitol, or related derivatives, such as 1,2-propylene glycol and polyethyleneglycol.
Strontium chloride or potassium nitrate are included in some toothpastes to reduce sensitivity.
Sodium polyphosphate is added to minimize the formation of tartar.
OTHER… DANGEROUS… UNINTENDED… TOOTHPASTE INGREDIENTS
Other dangerous chemicals may be found in toothpastes. Consider this FDA recall:
Urgent Voluntarily Nationwide Recall of DentFresh Fluoride Mint Toothpaste 9 oz (255g)
Contact: Dent Fresh U.S.A., Inc. 305-677-9938
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — July 13, 2007 — Dent Fresh U.S.A., Inc, Miami, Florida, is initiating a nationwide recall in accordance with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the toothpaste made in China involving all: DentFresh Fluoride Mint Toothpaste 9 Oz (255g).
This recall has been initiated because the products may contain the poisonous chemical diethylene glycol (DEG). DEG is used in antifreeze and as a solvent, and is a Central Nervous System depressant and potent kidney and liver toxin.
FDA is not aware of any U.S. reports of poisonings from toothpaste containing DEG. However, the agency is concerned about potential risks from chronic exposure to DEG and exposure to DEG in certain populations, such as children and individuals with kidney or liver disease. DEG in toothpaste has a low but meaningful risk of toxicity and injury to these populations. Toothpaste is not intended to be swallowed, but FDA is concerned about unintentional swallowing or ingestion of toothpaste containing DEG.
PLEASE RETURN ALL PRODUCTS IMMEDIATELY TO THE STORES WHICH YOU PURCHASED THEM.
CONSUMERS WHO HAVE THE PRODUCTS SHOULD STOP USING AND THEN RETURN TO THE STORE OF PURCHASE OR THROW AWAY.
I suspect ANYTHING made in China… they do not have a high enough standard of quality control. There are many instances where unintended substances have been found in consumer items made in China… this is especially disturbing if the product is intended to be ingested or otherwise used internally. Also, China is extremely polluted as the result of lax or no environmental laws… and does not recognize the human rights of their people… it is a shame that there are U.S. companies taking advantage of the inexpensive Chinese and other unethical nations’ manufacturing costs of what basically comes down to a form of slavery… and maybe even more shameful is that there are informed consumers who do not seek to purchase ethical choices. Made in U.S.A and other countries that recognize and value human rights and the natural environment… all the way!
My Suggestion For Best Toothpaste
My reasons for choosing the above toothpaste are because, of course, that it is fluoride and SLS free… but also that Tom’s of Maine uses all natural ingredients, they are a charitable company, and their products are made in the U.S.A (quality control is important to me).
I do not have sensitive teeth, so I cannot make an honest recommendation to those who do.
The only real way to know which is the best toothpaste for you is to try a few according to your needs and discover which one(s) you prefer. Have a few different kinds of toothpaste and use them in series or alternatively, so your teeth and overall wellbeing get the benefit and do not have to rely too heavily on only one list of ingredients… and besides, it is enjoyable to brush with different toothpastes… sort of like not chewing the same flavor gum every time.
What particular toothpaste ingredient(s) are you concerned about and why?