Farewell, toothpaste! Our family said a proper goodbye to Colgate about a year ago. Why, you ask? Let me tell you!
PROBLEMS WITH COMMERCIAL TOOTHPASTE
We’ve all heard debates surrounding Sodium Fluoride, a waste by-product of aluminum processing found in rat poisons, wood preservatives, & pesticides that some studies have linked to developmental, reproductive, and organ system toxicity. It is also known to suppress thyroid function, reduce IQ, and cause dental fluorosis in children under 8, as well as possibly leading to skeletal fluorosis, among other issues.
Well, here are a few more common ingredients found in toothpaste that you may or may not know about:
- TRICLOSAN: The Environmental Protection Agency declares it a pesticide, causing potential risk to humans and the environment. It has been said to reduce thyroid hormones & cause antibiotic resistance. Use of it has been banned from food products in Europe and household products in Canada.
- SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (SLS): This is also a pesticide and has been linked to ulcers and skin cell degeneration, and is said to accumulate in the heart, liver, lungs, and brain. Some concerns also revolve around the manufacturing process, ethoxylation, which causes dioxane contamination.
- DEA: Disrupts hormones and forms cancer-causing nitrates.
- ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS/COLORANTS: Potential sources of allergies, behavioral problems, other medical issues.
Oral Health & Remineralization
Healthy saliva helps prevent tooth cavities by bathing and carrying nutrition to the teeth. Ingredients in commercial toothpaste (especially glycerin and flouride) can coat the teeth, inhibiting saliva from being able to do its job of remineralizing or “carrying nutrition” to the them. So, though some of the bad-guy ingredients listed above do indeed fight against plaque, bacteria, and gingivitis, they can starve the teeth of the constant strengthening they need.
So now we have a big problem. Not only is toothpaste potentially harmful to our bodily health as a whole, but it can also hinder true oral health. Good thing there are natural alternatives that can address both of these issues, and provide added minerals and nutrients to the teeth. Onward march!
Make Your Own Toothpaste
Despite hundreds of recipes you can find online for homemade toothpaste, there are really just two main styles that I continue to see variances of: coconut oil based and clay based. Today I will share a super easy coconut oil based recipe that we started out with.
Step it Up
Once you feel comfortable manipulating the above ingredients and are ready to invest in a few more items that will give your teeth a real remineralizing boost, you can try adding calcium powder, trace minerals, and bentonite clay, which we now incorporate in our batches. I will be sharing our remineralizing toothpaste recipes (with options for both clay and coconut oil bases, and even a squeeable option) soon!
Why these Ingredients?
Coconut Oil is high in lauric acid and naturally antimicrobial, killing bacteria, viruses, and fungi that cause cavities and decay. Baking Soda cleans, deodorizes, and fights off bacteria. Xylitol has been shown to “reduce the occurrence of dental caries, (source)” or at least not to cause cavities, so it is a great optional sweetener to boost the flavor of this paste. Essential Oils are great for adding flavor and freshening breath, but more particularly Cinnamon oil destroys streptococcus multans (bacteria that causes tooth decay), tea tree oil can treat gum disease and gingivitis (source), clove oil is antibacterial & fights pain, and peppermint oil effectively kills anaerobic bacteria (which causes gum disease),
Not Ready to Make Your Own?
I totally get that.
The sad tale is that many “natural” store-bought toothpastes aren’t exactly clean of all of the ingredients I like to avoid. The Environmental Working Group puts Arm & Hammer, Crest, and Aquafresh toothpastes as a Level 3 – Moderate Hazard, and Burt’s Bees Natural Toothpaste (one of the more popular “natural” alternatives) has been given the same score (!!!) and includes things like glycerin (hinders remineralization), titanium dioxide (classified as possible carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer), & carrageenan. Even Tom’s of Maine (now owned by Colgate) maintains ingredients like glycerin & possible fluoride.
The best I have found is Earthpaste. It is clay based (similar to the remineralizing clay recipe I will be posting soon) and includes only 4 other ingredients: real salt, tea-tree oil, menthol, and essential oils. That’s it! The only downside to Earthpaste? It retails for $7.99 per tube. I have found it to usually be cheaper on Amazon though.
This post is part of my “Farewell” Friday series.