Are your gums sensitive and bleed easily? This irritation may simply be caused by harsh ingredients in your current toothpaste. Many toothpaste brands on the market contain harmful ingredients for both your health and the environment.
The harmful ingredients used in conventional toothpaste, some of which are carcinogenic, are added for taste, texture, and foaming properties- something natural ingredients are capable of as well.
While toxic chemicals are dangerous for your health, they’re also harmful to aquatic life. When washed down the drain, chemicals end up polluting waterways such as oceans, rivers, and lakes, creating a toxic environment for aquatic ecosystems.
The following ingredients pose a threat to your health and to the planet, and should be avoided:
1. Sodium fluoride
Why is there sodium fluoride in toothpaste?
Sodium fluoride is used in toothpaste for remineralization. It binds minerals (such as calcium and magnesium) to the enamel. This helps to strengthen the enamel to strengthen and protect your teeth against acidic compounds that contribute to cavities.
Found in many oral care products, sodium fluoride is scientifically proven to be toxic for your health.
Why is sodium fluoride bad?
Frequent and excessive exposure to fluoride has been linked to many health issues, including skeletal fluorosis, thyroid problems, neurological complications, reproductive issues, acne, and more.
Exposure during childhood may result in mild dental fluorosis- little white streaks on the enamel of the tooth. This isn’t necessarily harmful to the tooth, but it causes tooth decolouration. It’s recommended to avoid fluoride in toothpaste for children under the age of six.
While sodium fluoride is found in most dental care products such as gels and mouthwashes, cements and fillings, varnishes, and floss, it’s also found in drinking water (both tap and bottled water).
Other sources of fluoride are:
- Pharmaceutical drugs that contain perfluorinated compounds
- Agricultural chemicals (for example, pesticides)
- Food and beverages made with fluoridated water
Why is there triclosan in toothpaste?
Triclosan is a chemical with antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Why is triclosan bad?
There is strong evidence to support that this ingredient causes long-lasting health effects, such as impaired cardiac and muscle function, decreased immunity, altered endocrine function, and decreased thyroid hormone levels/impaired thyroid function.
Triclosan can also be found in body wash, antibacterial soaps, and cosmetics.
3. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
Why is there sodium lauryl sulfate in toothpaste?
Sodium lauryl sulfate is a chemical that helps your toothpaste get foamy as you brush. SLS is also used as an emulsifier, meaning it allows oil-based and water-based ingredients to stick together. This ingredient may be found under other names, such as sodium dodecyl sulfate, dodecyl sulfate, sodium salt, and sodium n-dodecyl sulfate.
Why should I avoid sodium lauryl sulfate?
A German study of 1,600 participants, revealed that sodium lauryl sulfate caused skin irritation in 42% of the patients. In fact, because SLS is known to be a skin irritant, it’s used as a positive control in dermatological testing. When products are tested to see how irritating they may be, they’re compared to sodium lauryl sulfate because of their known elevated levels of irritation.
If you’re someone with sensitive skin or who suffers from sensitive or bleeding gums, it’s recommended to avoid sodium lauryl sulfate in toothpaste and other products. SLS can be found in shampoos and conditioners, soaps, bath bombs and bath bubbles, dish detergents, laundry detergents, and more.
Why is there carrageenan in toothpaste?
Derived from red seaweed, carrageenan stabilizes and thickens the consistency of toothpaste.
Why is carrageenan bad?
While the Food and Drug Administration approves of carrageenan, animal studies have shown that this ingredient is linked to gastrointestinal inflammation, ulcers, and colon cancer.
5. Propylene glycol
Why is there propylene glycol in toothpaste?
Propylene glycol is the main ingredient in anti-freeze and paint and is also found in toothpaste. It’s used to prolong shelf life and provide a smooth texture for customer satisfaction.
Why is propylene glycol bad?
Frequent exposure to propylene glycol has been linked to damage of the central nervous system, liver, and heart. The effects of propylene glycol may be more severe in those with liver or kidney problems due to the fact that malfunctioning kidneys and liver are unable to properly break down propylene glycol.
This chemical can also be found in cosmetics, and prescription drugs.
How can I avoid chemicals in toothpaste?
While there are many toothpaste manufacturers that use detrimental chemicals in their products, there are also many great toothpaste companies that use 100% natural ingredients!
When purchasing toothpaste, take the time to look at the ingredient list to see if it contains any of the top five harmful ingredients: sodium fluoride, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate, carrageenan, and propylene glycol. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a large database of personal care products, each with a rating between one and ten. These ratings, one being non-toxic, and ten being extremely toxic, help shoppers make wise and conscious purchases.
Patch testing with the irritant sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is useful in interpreting weak reactions to contact allergens as allergic or irritant by J. Geier, et al.
Sodium fluoride: The pros & cons of this dental care ingredient by Joseph Rauch
Sodium lauryl sulfate
Sodium lauryl phosphate for irritant patch testing – a dose-response study using bioengineering methods for determination of skin irritation by Tove Agner & Jorgen Serup
Why do we have fluoride in our water?