Wondering whether you should consider using a natural or organic toothpaste? You’re not alone. Around the world, awareness of ingredients in personal care products, like toothpaste, is increasing. So just what are the ingredients of concern when it comes to taking care of those pearly whites?
Common ingredients in toothpaste
Most of us know that fluoride is used in toothpaste to help prevent cavities. This has been the case for many decades since it was first discovered that low doses in the mouth can help reduce tooth decay. For this same reason, many governments also undertake water fluoridation. However, too much exposure to fluoride during tooth formation (i.e. in young children) can lead to dental fluorosis – a tooth developmental disturbance which appears as a discolouration of the tooth enamel, sometimes white, sometimes brown.
But fluoride is also used as a pesticide and, at much higher doses, can be toxic and cause serious health complications, even death. The question is: how much fluoride do we actually need for healthy teeth? Toothpaste and water fluoridation are two sources of fluoride in our diet but there are many others. It can also be found in many common food and drink items consumed on a daily basis, such as fruit juices. Non-organic fresh produce is particularly high in fluoride (e.g. iceberg lettuce) due to the widespread use of fluoride-based pesticides.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
There is strong evidence that this cleansing and foaming agent, also used in soap and shampoo products, is a human irritant, particularly for products used around the eyes or on the skin. There are also concerns that it may cause organ system toxicity and is an environmental toxin.
This is a small organic alcohoI often used as a skin conditioning agent. Even at low concentrations, it has been associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis, as well as contact urticarial (hives) in humans.
Originally developed as a surgical scrub for medical professionals, Triclosan is an antibacterial agent and preservative found in numerous personal care and household cleaning products. It has been associated with endocrine disruption, allergies and irritation, as well as organ system toxicity. Some studies claim this ingredient can weaken heart and other muscular contractions and there is also concern that the overuse of antibacterial products is contributing to the rise in antibacterial “superbugs”. In 2010, the European Union banned this chemical from use in products that come into contact with food. In 2015, it began phasing it out of all personal products. According to a study released in September 2015, antibacterial soaps made with Triclosan don’t kill common bacteria any better than plain old soap and water. In early September 2016, the US Government banned this ingredient from use in soap products but it can still be used in other products including toothpaste, thanks to arguments put forward from best-selling toothpaste brand, Colgate Total. Australia is yet to regulate against the use of Triclosan.
We suggest you do your own research into toothpaste ingredients and, if you decide that you want to reduce your exposure to the ingredients commonly found in commercial brand toothpastes and other oral care products, there are a lot of natural and organic alternatives on the market. Some of our best-selling brands include Miessence, Riddells Creek and Comvita. Remember, also, that an important aspect of dental hygiene is the actual cleaning technique – so make sure to “brush” up on that – yes, pun intended!