Why Use Organic Toothpaste?
A product that we put in our mouths every day, more than once a day, deserves attention and research.
What is wrong with toothpaste? I remember using Colgate when I was little and never felt there was a choice or anything wrong with it. It was the right thing to do, brush my teeth at least twice a day to keep them healthy and beautiful.
When did all this concerns about what is in our products started even to matter? Why is everybody going so crazy about "organic" or natural nowadays? "Our grandparents still alive" most of us reply!
Today we are bombarded with so many pollutants, radiation, and chemicals from outside sources that what we put in our bodies play an even more important role than ever. What we eat is important, the water we drink and bathe with is important, how many electromagnetic waves around us is important…
Toothpaste is the most widely used oral health care product and there are considerable choices available to the consumer. Toothpaste types range from general decay, plaque and tartar control types to specific formulations for sensitive teeth, for smokers, special children's formulations and the tooth whitening pastes.
Toothpaste ingredients will normally contain the following basic ingredients:
- Detergent (1-2%)
- Binding agents (1%)
- Humectants (10-30%)
- Flavorings, sweetening and colorings agents (1-5%)
- Preservatives (0.05-0.50%)
- Fluoride and other therapeutic agents
Let us explore these ingredients in more detail.
1. Detergent (1-2%)
Detergents foam and supposedly loosen plaque and other debris from the tooth surface. Principal examples are sodium lauryl sulphate and sodium N-lauroyl sarcosinate.
#1. Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS)
Sodium laureth sulfate, or sodium lauryl ether sulfate, is an anionic detergent and surfactant found in many personal care products. SLES is an inexpensive and very effective foaming agent found in many mainstream personal hygiene products such as shampoos, toothpastes, mouthwashes, bodywash, soaps, detergents and body wash, along with Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Ammonium Laurel Sulfate (ALS). SLS can cause irritation of the scalp; gums and skin at just 1% and in some people the reaction will be quite strong.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) is also a concern as in some circumstances, it can become contaminated with Dioxane. This largely depends on the manufacturing process. Dioxane is a suspected carcinogen and lasts much longer in our bodies, primarily because the liver cannot metabolize it effectively. While it’s considered less of a skin irritant when compared to SLS there are underlying concerns over its continued use in cosmetic products.
In children, SLS has been linked to eye irritation and poor eye development. Even at very low levels, the product may be absorbed through the skin and cause issues with eye health. It would seem that children’s products should be scrutinized more closely, but often they are not. A number of studies have indicated that SLS will remain in a person’s system (Brain, Heart & Liver) for up to 4-5 days which means if you are using a non SLS free product at the same volume and same rate of application then Sodium Lauryl Sulfate will remain a constant in your body.
"About 15 years ago, triclosan came to oral care because it fights the bacteria in plaque for up to 12 hours," says Straub-Bruce. Unfortunately, research is now showing that, much like BPA, triclosan is a hormone disruptor.
"And now that it's been out for a long time and it's been going down the drain, we're starting to see the environmental impacts," says Straub-Bruce. She points out that not only is it a hormone disruptor for people, but it's also a food-chain disruptor because it affects algae.
3. #3. Blue #1 and #2
The "benefit" of these dyes is pretty obvious: They color the toothpaste. That's it. Unfortunately, the fun color is offset by some pretty serious health concerns. "When swallowed, it's a respiratory irritant, digestive tract irritant, and there have been correlation studies between blue #1 and behavioral problems in children," says Straub-Bruce.
4. #4. Flavoring
Sure, we love the minty-fresh taste, but what do the toothpaste companies add to make their pastes palatable. "No matter what it says on the front, you have to read the back," says Straub-Bruce. It's important to watch out for flavoring agents like aspartame If you're making the jump to natural herbal rinses and need help getting used to the new taste, she recommends looking for natural sweeteners like xylitol or stevia.
5. #5. Hydrated Silica
This chemical is used for stain removal, butt it doesn't break down over time. "This means that it can damage your enamel," she says. She recommends using baking soda instead. You'll get sparkling teeth—without destroying them.
6. #6. Alcohol
Straub-Bruce points out that alcohol is a false friend when it comes to mouth rinses: "Alcohol is an antimicrobial, but it's also a drying agent," she says. "So while it freshens your breath initially, it flips back twofold later because the bacteria thrive in a dry mouth." Instead, try using mouthwashes or mouth rinses free of alcohol and with natural herbs, essential oils.
7. Binding Agents (1%)
These agents prevent separation of solid and liquid ingredients during storage. They are usually derived from cellulose, sodium carboxymethyl cellulose being the most commonly used. Carrageenans (seaweed derived), xanthan gums and alginates are also used. Although popular to be a “natural” choice, they also present side effects in our organisms.
8. Humectants (10-30%) Flavoring, Sweetening and coloring agents (1-5%)
Humectants act to retain moisture and prevent the toothpaste from hardening on exposure to air. Glycerol, sorbitol and propylene glycol are commonly used. Glycerol and sorbitol also sweeten the toothpaste, though this is not their main function.
9. Flavoring, Sweetening and coloring agents Preservatives
Artificial Peppermint, spearmint, cinnamon, wintergreen and menthol are among the many different flavorings used. While rare, mucosal irritations from toothpaste (i.e., ulceration, gingivitis, angular cheilitis, perioral dermatitis) are usually linked to flavorings or preservatives they contain.
Alcohols, benzoates, formaldehyde and dichlorinated phenols are added to prevent bacterial growth on the organic binders and humectants.
11. Fluoride and other therapeutic agents
Fluoride is one of the most toxic substances known to man, yet the American Dental Association believes it’s okay to use fluoride for preventative dental care. Other products, such as bottled water, infant formulas, and even vitamin supplements, now contain fluoride!
In 2002, nearly 90% of the U.S. population was supplied water via public water systems, and around 67% of that number received fluoridated water. This occurred in spite of the fact, “No statistically significant differences were found in the decay rates of permanent teeth or the percentages of decay-free children in the fluoridated, non-fluoridated, and partially fluoridated areas.”
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) typically label sodium fluoride as “…toxic by ingestion, inhalation and skin contact” Fluorides are more toxic than lead and only slightly less poisonous than arsenic… and these toxins can enter your body from brushing your teeth or rinsing with many popular dental care products.
Fluoride compounds are still purposefully added to water in many areas (in a process known as fluoridation) and is used in most brands of toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay. However, fluoride has never been proven to significantly aid in protecting teeth from the development of cavities.
Practically all of the beverages sold in stores use tap water. The customers who drink those beverages ingest a fair amount of added fluoride. When the availability of such beverages is combined with the amount of fluoridated tap water, one can appreciate the high level of fluoride in the present-day diet.
SIDE EFFECTS OF CONSUMING FLUORIDES
- Acute Poisoning
- Birth Defects
- Bone & Uterine Cancer
- Perinatal Death
- Immune System Suppression
- Gastrointestinal Disorders
- Essential enzyme inhibition
- Lowered IQ (especially in young children)
- Skeletal Fluorosis (leading to brittle teeth and bones)
There are several companies selling natural “organic” toothpaste, but don’t let these words deceive you. Always read the list of ingredients to make sure every ingredient comes from a natural source.
As an example here is a well-known natural toothpaste sold in the market. The ingredients are as following:
Hydrated silica, water, sorbitol, glycerin, xylitol, sodium lauryl sulfate, natural flavors, xanthan gum, titanium dioxide, chondrus crispus (carrageenan).
it’s unnecessary and it coats your teeth like plastic wrap blocking your teeth from re mineralizing or maintaining the proper balance of nutrients. Toothpastes with glycerine “require 20 rinses to get it off” (Judd,Good Teeth, Birth to Death).
- Sodium lauryl sulfate:
Described at the beginning of the article.
- Natural flavors:
The name sounds innocent enough, but these mild-sounding words are used by the food industry as an umbrella term for some pretty horrible stuff, including certain ingredients that come from extreme animal abuse.
The exact definition of natural flavors from the Code of Federal Regulations is as follows:
“The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”
When the phrase ‘natural flavors’ appears on a package, the best move is to call the company and find out what the flavors are actually made from.
Although derived from a natural source, it appears to be particularly destructive to the digestive system, triggering an immune response similar to that your body has when invaded by pathogens like Salmonella. The result: “It predictably causes inflammation, which can lead to ulcerations and bleeding,” explains veteran researcher Joanne Tobacman, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Illinois School of Medicine at Chicago. She says the food ingredient irritates by activating an immune response that dials up inflammation. Her previous work showed a concerning connection between carrageenan and gastrointestinal cancer in lab animals, and she’s involved with ongoing research funded through the National Institutes of Health that is investigating carrageenan’s effect on ulcerative colitis and other diseases like diabetes.
The concern over food-grade carrageenan isn’t new. Beginning in the 1960s, researchers started linking the ingredient to gastrointestinal disease in lab animals, including ulcerative colitis, intestinal lesions, and colon cancer.
Dr. Tobacman said that her research has shown that exposure causes inflammation and that when we consume processed foods containing it; we ingest enough to cause inflammation in our bodies. She explained that all forms of carrageenan are capable of causing inflammation. This is bad news. We know that chronic inflammation is a root cause of many serious diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and cancer.
Dr. Tobacman also told the board that in the past, drug investigators actually used carrageenan to cause inflammation in tissues in order to test the anti-inflammatory properties of new drugs. And she reported further that when laboratory mice are exposed to low concentrations of carrageenan for 18 days, they develop “profound” glucose intolerance and impaired insulin action, both of which can lead to diabetes.
Read your toothpaste labels and make sure they contain only natural ingredients, but be aware even companies that claim to be “natural” and “organic” use ingredients that still not provide optimal oral health.