Have you stopped to wonder, when you are brushing away at your pearly whites, what harmful ingredients are hiding in your Toothpaste? How is it making my teeth clean? How does it whiten my teeth? And is it safe to swallow? If not why the heck am I using on my teeth then?
I know I ask a lot of questions! And I did ask these questions a while ago but struggled to find a toothpaste that a) cleaned my teeth well and b) tasted nice.
These are the brands that we sell here at The Conscious Spender as they have all been checked for environmentally friendly ingredients. You can shop the range here
So lets get to the big question: What harmful ingredients are hiding in your Toothpaste?
When you purchase one of those well known brands from the supermarket, it may contain some of these ingredients:
Sodium lauryl sulfate - which is derived from palm oil or petroleum. It is also a know irritant and can penetrate your gums (which means you are ingesting it)
Glycerin - this is not the worst product on the list, and is more about where it has been sourced.
Most of the products I sell also contain glycerin. Ausganica and Little Innocents use an organically sourced glycerin. JackNJill use a coconut derived form of glycerin and Grants of Australia use a RSPO palm oil that is grown on old rubber plantations, requiring no new forest clearing.
Sodium saccharin - another petroleum source to make it taste sweet!! This one is suspected of fertility and reproductive issues, as well as causing hives and rashes.
Flavour - well this can be anything you like! It is an umbrella term so it might be good but it might not be either. From my experience if its a good ingredient it will be listed on the product.
Triclosan - this is sold as a broad spectrum anti-bacterium. This product has been banned in the US and Europe due to its concerns around disrupting hormones. But here in Australia it was concluded that as long as it is used within the normal conditions of consumer use ( which is a % of use) then it posed little or low risk factor.(Cancer Council)
Microbeads - Now these little suckers are of great concern. Usually containing BPA's (Plastics), they are those tiny little beads used to help with tartar control. They are also found in large numbers in our water supply. We know that plastics and especially BPAs are hormone disruptors.
Fluoride - Yes we have to talk about this one, because everyone says you need it to make your teeth healthy right?
Well this is a tricky subject, and yes it can help to strengthen your teeth, but so can a healthy diet and a healthy microbiome. If you go to any of the popular brand websites they talk about the benefits of fluoride and how it is a natural mineral. Well technically that is correct, but they don't go and source their fluoride from the earth do they? The fluoride used in toothpaste is often sodium fluoride or sodium monofluorophosphate and stannous fluoride. Now these three types of fluoride are toxic by-products from the aluminium or fertiliser industries. If they used calcium fluoride it would be a much healthier option. So you can see the complexity behind fluoride!
So what about all those extras we use on our teeth, like mouthwash, dental floss and even our toothbrush?
A bamboo toothbrush or a naturally derived coconut plastic is a good option. Unfortunately in my research I was unable to source anything made in Australia and hence I do not sell any of these products.
Mouthwash - NFCO do a natural mouthwash that is free from alcohol, fluoride, parabens, SLS, triclosan, sodium saccharin, colours and flavours.
You could even try making your own using essential oils, olive oil and distilled water.
Whitening - big marketing these days to use a charcoal based product. But again watch the ingredients. I currently do not have any stock of these products but am still researching.
Dental Floss - there are some good alternatives instead of the ones coated in PTFEs(teflon). These are not biodegradable. Try some bamboo ones, coated in plant waxes and using glass or recyclable containers. These are all biodegradable and will eventually break down. The search is still on for an Australian Made option to sell in store.
And lastly think about a tongue scraper. This is an old Ayurvedic tradition that helps to remove toxins and built up bugs in your mouth.
So I hope that this helps to answer some of your questions around what harmful ingredients are hiding in your Toothpaste and it might encourage you to look at what is in your bathroom draw and make some swapsies!
Just head over to the store and you will find lots of options to help with your dental care.
Authored by Jan Caton BHSc-Nat, Owner of The Conscious Spender, Naturopath and Owner of Magnolia Apothecary.