Many common brands of toothpaste contain known carcinogens like propylene glycol, sodium saccharin, titanium dioxide, and hydrated silica. The problem with toothpaste can be summed up in one, simple, iconic image: a bluish-white glob, dried stuck to your pearly white bathroom sink. If you let commercial toothpaste sit and dry too long, it gets so hard and stuck to the sink that a paper towel or cloth will not get it off easily and you may have to resort to your fingernail or a scrub brush to get it off.
This experience, which I’m sure most of you have also experienced, is what led me to wonder, what was happening with the toothpaste inside my mouth, in the tiny crevices on my teeth. This thought was just the starting point that brought me to ask myself what exactly toothpaste was made of to be so sticky – and sweet – and whether it actually helps the body do its job of keeping me healthy or not. What if, I wondered, toothpaste actually causes problems, providing a ‘paste’ that actually contributes to cavities and the buildup of bacteria and plaque?
In my research, I soon found that there are many differing opinions on the benefits of brushing with commercial toothpaste. According to one source (eMaxHealth, February 8, 2012 and many more I am sure if you want to research it more), common toothpaste ingredients include FD&C blue dye No. 2 (linked to learning, behavioral and health problems, severe allergic reactions, and headaches); sodium lauryl sulfate (which can cause skin corrosion and irritation); triclosan (a pesticide which the EPA is researching for potential health consequences on the endocrine system); saccharin and aspartame (artificial sweeteners on the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s list of additives to avoid).
Nasty! If you read the fine print on a tube of toothpaste, many common brands of toothpaste contain known carcinogens like propylene glycol, sodium saccharin, titanium dioxide, and hydrated silica. Yikes, run for the hills!!!
This is just a glance at the potentially harmful qualities of commercial toothpaste ingredients. There are many resources available on the subject on the Internet, but knowing just this was enough for me to look for an alternative solution that will help me keep my mouth clean, without actually impairing its functions.
Everybody is different, so do your own research and do what is best for your life to determine how you might be able to take steps to help your body function at its full capacity without hindering or hurting it. If you’re like me though, you will slow down and simply do without.
Back to the Basics I go:
- Water Pick
A little-known secret of excellent, I mean excellent, oral health is a water pick. These things are worth their weight in gold! They use a stream of water to move plaque and debris out of your mouth and teeth. They are sometimes advertised as “Dental Water Flossers” and you can find them for as little as $45, yet relatively few people know about them, or use them. Perhaps the dental industry doesn’t want you to know how good of a preventative tool it truly is – YIKES! I’m always amazed when I see food particles washing down the sink after I’ve flossed and brushed. If I were you, I would buy one for every room in the house; they are that good. Once you get yours, to keep it nice and sanitary run a cup of hydrogen peroxide or vinegar through it about once a month. Easy peasy and oh so natural!
- Dry Brushing
A dentist once told me that I should dry-brush once in a while because toothpaste acts as a lubricant, glossing over the surface of the teeth and minimizing the friction needed to remove plaque and debris. Now that is some food for thought! Try it, then rinse thoroughly and move your tongue along your teeth. They will feel smoother and cleaner than they do after brushing with toothpaste – guaranteed.
- Baking Soda & Apple Cider Vinegar
I alternate between dry-brushing (using nothing on the toothbrush) or using a couple of drops of organic apple cider vinegar and baking soda sprinkled on my toothbrush. I do this daily and my teeth and gums have never been healthier; just ask my dentist! It will take some guts on your part to get past the fear and stigma of going against what people consider “normal” these days. So, if you want to try this, to make it most convenient, get a little amber dropper bottle for the cider and a spice jar with a shaker top for the baking soda. I get mine online from Mountain Rose Herbs for under $2 each.
Peroxide – Another Awesome Tool
Another awesome practice is to swish with 3% Peroxide every night after brushing/before bed. As you may know, the cause of gingivitis is the accumulation of bacterial plaque. So I do anything I can to protect my mouth from the colonization of harmful microorganisms that can lead to gingivitis! This really helps! My husband and I do this religiously every night before bed and our gum health has never been better.
Removing Tea and Red Wine Stains
When my teeth get stained from drinking too much black tea, I simply use baking soda and my finger to rub the stains off! It’s that simple and it works, try it!
Toxic Chemicals Avoided
By kicking the toothpaste habit, you will eliminate the following ingredients* from the highly absorbent (scary!!) tissue in your mouth.
*hydrated silica, glycerin, sorbitol, tetrapotassium pyrophosphate, flavor, titanium dioxide, sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, cellulose gum, lauryl glocoside, PVP, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium saccharin, sucralose, propylene glycol, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, PEG-12, sodium hydroxide, sodium lauryl sulfate, poloxamer 407, xanthan gum, titanium dioxide, blue 1, PVM/MA copolymer, carrageenan, red 30 and PEG/PPG 116/66 copolymer.
* The ingredient names listed above were taken from 5 of the most popular brands of toothpaste found in grocery stores. All of the packaging provided the following warnings:
“Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.”
Helping the Environment & Saving Money
Toothpaste tubes are generally made from some type of plastic, derived from petroleum. Although some toothpaste tubes are recyclable, not all recycling facilities accept them, and, even then, they often only do so when the inside of the tube is completely empty and the cap is removed. Therefore, most tubes (millions and millions) end up in landfills. By using bulk ingredients like a mild peroxide or baking soda and apple cider vinegar, you will save money at the grocery store, reduce the amount of waste going into the landfill, while also reducing the amount of toothpaste tube chemicals and petroleum tubes produced. Vote with your dollars!
Concluding Fun Facts:
Since many common brands of toothpaste contain known carcinogens like propylene glycol, sodium saccharin, titanium dioxide, and hydrated silica, and the average tube of toothpaste today costs as much as $6 for nearly 6 ounces ($1 per ounce), its an easy switch when a large 128 ounce bottle of apple cider vinegar costs in the range of $20 ($.15 per ounce). Studies show that Americans spend a total of $1.8 billion annually on toothpaste (Statistic Brain.com), and also that we throw used tubes away, thinking them empty, when as much as 13% remains inside (Consumer Reports.org). So, why not slow down a little, get away from what commercial advertisements are telling you, and get back to the basics – love yourself to good health, take this one step toward healthier living and longevity and save money J Happy brushing my friends!