Quantcast

6 Toothpaste Ingredients You Should Avoid

Health + Wellness

Reposted with permission from Rodale News.

"Brush three times a day!" You probably grew up hearing that conventional oral-hygiene wisdom, but unfortunately, doing so today could pose an unnecessary threat to your health, thanks to certain bad-actor ingredients cropping up in popular toothpaste brands. The kicker? Some of the worst ingredients don't even help keep your teeth cleaner. "Does the risk outweigh the benefits?" asks Linda A. Straub-Bruce, BS Ed, RDH, author of Dental Herbalism. "It's what I always ask my patients to consider."

The "benefit" of these dyes is pretty obvious: They color the toothpaste. That's it. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

She recommends avoiding these six ingredients that just aren't worth the risk:

1. Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS)

SLS seems to fuel canker sores. Researchers have linked SLS to higher numbers of canker sore outbreaks. As if that's not enough, SLS also seems to cause more frequent outbreaks that last longer, too, Straub-Bruce says. She also points out that there is a definite correlation with cold sensitivity as well. No one likes canker sores or sensitive teeth, so manufacturers must have a really good reason to justify its inclusion, right?

Nope.

"All it does is foam," explains Straub-Bruce. "There is no other viable purpose other than the experience. This doesn't translate into better health or lower microbial load, but people associate foaming with clean." In fact, she suggests that you get more cleaning power from the scraping action of brushing or flossing (or even just eating a carrot) than you do from SLS.

2. Triclosan 

"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. 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 correlational studies between blue #1 and behavioral problems in children," says Straub-Bruce.

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. Hydrated Silica 

This chemical is used for stain removal, but Straub-Bruce explains that 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. 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, Straub-Bruce suggests making a tea of herbs (and letting it cool) as a rinse. To freshen your breath, try brewing a 2:1:1:0.5 ratio of cardamom, cumin, fennel and orange peel in water. After it's cooled, rinse as you would with your regular mouthwash.

Want to control what's going into your toothpaste? Try making it yourself.

You Might Also Like

What to Avoid in Toothpaste, and How to Make Your Own

Fluoride, Deemed Toxic by Harvard Doctor, Under Fire in U.S. Federal Court

3 Herbal Recipes for Beautiful Hair

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

orientalizing / Flickr

The Parties to CITES agreed to list giraffes on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) today at the World Wildlife Conference or CoP18 in Geneva. Such protections will ensure that all giraffe parts trade were legally acquired and not sourced from the poached giraffes trade and will require countries to make non-detriment findings before allowing giraffe exports. The listing will also enable the collection of international trade data for giraffes that might justify greater protections at both CITES and other venues in the future.

Read More Show Less

The WHO stressed that more research is needed on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion. luchschen / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The UN's health agency on Thursday said that microplastics contained in drinking water posed a "low" risk at their current levels.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) — in its first report on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion — also stressed more research was needed to reassure consumers.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Brazil's right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro is giving President Trump a run for his money in the alternative facts department.

Read More Show Less
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee delivered his 2019 State of the State address on Jan. 15. Governor Jay and First Lady Trudi Inslee / Flickr

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who made solving the climate crisis the center of his presidential campaign, is dropping out of the 2020 Democratic primary race.

Read More Show Less
Earthjustice

By Robert Valencia

In April 2018, Afro-Colombian activist Francia Márquez won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, thanks to her work to retake her community's ancestral territories from illegal gold mining. However, her international recognition comes at a very risky price.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Stuart Braun

A year after activist Greta Thunberg first stood in the rain outside the Swedish parliament with her now iconic "Skolstrejk för klimatet" — school strike for the climate — placard, the movement she spawned has set the tone for environmental protest action around the world.

Read More Show Less
Bruno Vincent / Staff / Getty Images

Toy maker Hasbro wants to play in the eco-packaging game. The board game giant will ditch its plastic packaging by 2022. The move means that games like Monopoly, Scrabble and Operation will no longer have shrink wrap, window sheets, plastic bags or elastic bands, as the Associated Press reported.

Read More Show Less
Vaping impaired the circulatory systems of people in a new study. bulentumut / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Vaping one time — even without nicotine — can damage blood vessels, reduce blood flow and create dangerous toxins, according to a new study published in the journal Radiology.

Read More Show Less