A big, beautiful smile with bright, white teeth makes you look healthy as well as attractive. In fact, good dental care is important for your health. It decreases your risk of heart disease, pneumonia and other serious conditions. However, your toothpaste could be doing you more harm than good. If your toothpaste is full of toxins, it’s not keeping your teeth, or your body, clean at all.
Here’s what to look out for before you brush
1. Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Added to toothpaste and other personal care products to make them foam, sodium laureth sulfate can be contaminated with toxic ingredients like 1,4 dioxane, a possible carcinogen. Sodium laureth sulfate itself can irritate the eyes, skin and lungs.
2. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
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Sodium lauryl sulfate, another foaming ingredient, is also a powerful irritant. It can harm your internal organs.
Triclosan is an antibacterial agent and preservative that’s added to toothpaste and soaps. Studies in rats have shown it disrupts the endocrine system. It can irritate the skin, eyes and lungs and can cause allergic reactions. It’s known to be harmful to the environment.
4. Propylene glycol
Propylene glycol is the main component in antifreeze. In toothpaste, it’s used as a wetting agent. It can irritate the skin and damage the kidneys and the liver.
5. Titanium dioxide
Titanium dioxide is used to make toothpaste white. This is supposed to make you think the toothpaste will whiten your teeth. Research shows it might cause cancer if inhaled.
6. Sodium fluoride
Probably the most controversial ingredient, sodium fluoride is added to toothpaste because of its proven ability to prevent cavities. Some people are afraid that exposure to sodium fluoride can cause cancer. However, evidence for this is unclear. There’s a good chance that sodium fluoride is already in your drinking water. If that’s so, you might not need any more of it in your toothpaste.
Clean Ways to Care for Your Teeth
You don’t have to choose between avoiding toxins and maintaining good dental hygiene. There are clean alternatives to toxic toothpastes. Here are some of them:
1. Buy organic toothpaste
You don’t have to buy your toothpaste in the supermarket. Health food stores often sell toothpaste made from all natural ingredients. Organic toothpaste companies know that people are tired of brushing with toxic chemicals, and they’ve developed toothpastes to cater to the increasing demand for all natural products.
2. Brush with baking soda
Baking soda will keep your teeth white and fresh smelling. Just mix baking soda and water and place the mixture on your toothbrush. Baking soda is abrasive, so be careful not to brush too hard or for too long, or you’ll wear away the enamel on your teeth.
3. Try apple cider vinegar
In addition to its many other benefits, apple cider vinegar will whiten your teeth. It has antiseptic properties, so it helps prevent cavities, too. Put some on your toothbrush for healthy, clean teeth. Too much apple cider vinegar can erode your tooth enamel, so be careful.
3. Freshen your mouth with essential oils
Using essential oils to brush your teeth is a great way to keep your mouth smelling fresh and clean without using unnatural chemicals. Many essential oils, such as peppermint, eucalyptus and tea tree oil, also kill bacteria.
4. Clean up your diet
Cut down on processed foods. These tend to be full of sugar, and eating too much sugar greatly increases your risk of cavities. The bacteria that cause cavities live on sugar. Why not deprive them of a food source? Besides harming your teeth, eating too much sugar can cause many health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Avoid coffee, tea, and soda, all of which can stain your teeth.
Dental disease and risk of coronary heart disease and mortality, British Medical Journal
The mode of antimicrobial action of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil), Journal of Applied Microbiology
Recognition, Treatment, and Prevention of Propylene Glycol Toxicity, Seminars in Dialysis