Today’s most popular toothpastes, including many ‘natural’ brands, contain a range of potentially hazardous ingredients. Even if you’re careful to avoid swallowing, potential carcinogens, irritants, and hormone mimickers can slip into your bloodstream every time you brush.
Over your life time you will be consuming a lot of toothpaste that might contain potentially hazardous ingredients. Even though you don’t swallow it, did you know the inside lining of your mouth, your oral mucosa, can absorb more than 90% of what it comes in contact with?
This means any ingredient in your toothpaste is likely to pass directly into your bloodstream.
What’s in your Toothpaste?
Here are the listed ingredients for one of the top-selling American toothpastes: Sodium Fluoride, Triclosan, Hydrated Silica, Glycerin, Sorbitol, PVM/MA Copolyme, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Cellulose Gum, Flavour, Sodium Hydroxide, Carrageenan, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Saccharin, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, FD&C Blue No.1, D&C Yellow No.10. There are concerns with nearly all of these ingredients.
While you may not use a toothpaste quite like this, you need to know that many so-called “natural” toothpastes may not be much better!
Does Sodium Fluoride Really Protect Your Teeth?
If your dentist practices conventional dentistry, he or she most likely advises you to use toothpaste that contains sodium fluoride. In fact, all toothpastes with the “ADA Accepted” seal must contain sodium fluoride. That’s the American Dentist Association’s standard.
But do you really need it? And above all, is it safe? According to the ADA, fluoride makes tooth enamel stronger and more resistant to tooth decay. It helps re-mineralise weakened tooth enamel and may reverse early signs of tooth decay. However, recent research challenges the ADA’s long-held belief. A 2010 study found that the supposedly beneficial layer that forms on your teeth from fluoride is only six nanometres thick. To appreciate how thin this is, you’d need 10,000 of these layers to equal the width of a single strand of hair! And here’s the issue, simple chewing disrupts this so-called protective layer! This raises the question of whether the fluoride in toothpaste does much or anything to safeguard your tooth enamel. But that’s just the beginning.
What Many People Don’t Realise About Fluoride
The biggest problem with fluoride is that it carries a poison warning and can accumulate in your tissues and bones. When kids ingest or absorb significant amounts of fluoride from toothpaste or fluoridated water during their first eight years of life, it can lead to mottling of the teeth, or dental fluorosis marked by unsightly yellow or brown stains and pits formed in the tooth enamel. Children naturally swallow more toothpaste than do adults, so that puts them at an even greater risk of fluoride toxicity at a time when it can do the most harm!
Mottled and pitted teeth aren’t the only things that can result from too much fluoride. These other potential ill effects may occur too. Fluoride:
- Accumulates in your bones and can affect your flexibility, joint comfort, and bone strength
- May interfere with your thyroid function
- Can affect your brain function and may damage the developing brain
Dr Mercola is not convinced that the possible benefits of fluoride in toothpaste outweigh its far more serious potential health effects, especially since it can accumulate in tissues and bones. Because most of us get far too much fluoride from other sources, it isn’t believed that fluoride should be added to your drinking water nor does it need to be in your toothpaste.
Other Ingredients You Can Well Do Without
In their recently released report, Behind the Dazzling Smile, the Cornucopia Institute lists other common ingredients in toothpaste to avoid:
- Carrageenan – Research links carrageenan to gastrointestinal inflammation, including higher rates of colon cancer, in laboratory animals. This is not something you need or want in your toothpaste yet nearly all toothpastes, even ones in health food stores, contain it.
- Triclosan – Commonly used as a preservative and antimicrobial agent. May affect your levels of thyroid hormone and testosterone. Animal studies show it can interfere with brain and reproductive system functioning. Although Triclosan may soon be banned in hand sanitizers and soaps, it will still be allowed in toothpaste.
- Parabens – These synthetic preservatives mimic estrogen and can act as potential endocrine disruptors. Some believe parabens may be carcinogenic. With their ability to penetrate skin (and mouth mucosa), watch out for names like methylparaben, propylparaben and other “parabens.”
- Hydrated Silica – Used to help remove debris and stains, this commonly used abrasive is a component of sand. Over time, it can scratch and damage your tooth enamel and may prevent tooth remineralization by changing your mouth’s acidic balance.
- SLS and SLES – For foaming and cleansing power, surfactants like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are known skin, eye, and respiratory tract irritants. Both have a moderate toxicity to your organs, and may break down the protective lining of your mouth.
- Polyethylene Glycols and Propylene Glycol – Considered “penetration enhancers” in that they boost absorption of other ingredients in toothpaste directly through your mouth tissue. Propylene glycol, a known skin irritant, is the active ingredient in engine coolants and antifreeze.
These are just some of the potentially hazardous ingredients you can find in popular toothpastes. There are more, including this one…
Red Is for Roses – Not for Toothpaste!
Many top-selling toothpastes contain dyes, especially those marketed to children. Some parents claim their kids are more likely to brush if the toothpaste is pleasing to the eye!
Here’s what you need to know about dyes used in toothpaste:
- They’re mostly made from petrochemicals
- They may contain as much as 10 % impurities, either from the chemicals used or from by-products formed during the manufacturing process
- They can contain heavy metals like lead, mercury, and arsenic
- The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens
- D&C dyes are banned from use in food but are allowed in toothpaste
- Remember the ingredient list above from one of the top selling US toothpastes? It contains both FD&C blue and D&C yellow dyes!
- Sometimes, you’ll see a “lake dye” listed. Lake dyes are petrochemical mixtures formed by reacting a dye with a metal salt. That makes them a source of heavy metals like aluminium, chromium, and barium. And of course, aluminium and many heavy metals are potentially damaging to your brain.
A Potential Carcinogen That’s Found Even in So-Called ‘Natural’ Toothpastes
Just because carrageenan comes from a type of naturally grown seaweed, don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s a healthful food. It may not be. Carrageenan is a refined white powder added to many products and foods, even organic ones, as a thickener to improve texture and mouth feel. Manufacturers began adding it to food and beverages in the 1930s and now it is found in yogurt, ice cream, almond milk, infant formulas, deli meats, certain medicines, and personal care products like laxatives, lubricants, and toothpaste.
For years, scientists have warned that carrageenan is not safe to use in foods. Animal studies show it causes gastrointestinal inflammation and higher rates of intestinal lesions, ulcerations, and even malignant tumours.
If Scientists Warn Against It, Why Does the FDA Still Allow Carrageenan in Toothpaste?
Despite pleas from consumer groups and scientists to ban carrageenan as an additive, the FDA continues to reject claims that it’s potentially hazardous. Why? There are two types of carrageenan: food-grade or “undegraded” carrageenan and “degraded” carrageenan or poligeenan. While there’s little question that poligeenan produces GI inflammation and disease in laboratory animals, food manufacturers claim food-grade carrageenan is safe. However, here’s the problem that food manufacturers, and even the FDA, refuse to acknowledge…
Dozens of published, peer-reviewed studies show harmful effects from food-grade carrageenan – not just poligeenan. Food-grade carrageenan has been shown to:
- Increase free radicals
- Disrupt insulin metabolism
- Induce inflammation
- And it’s linked to higher rates of digestive disease and colon cancer, and can trigger an immune response in the body.
Scientists point out that the acidic environment of your stomach may “degrade” food-grade carrageenan once it enters your digestive system, exposing your intestines to this widely recognized carcinogen.
With the most recent research painting the strongest case ever against carrageenan – and also with hearing your concerns – Dr Mercola decided that it shouldn’t be added to foods or to products like toothpaste that you hold in your mouth for minutes, twice a day, and whose ingredients may be easily absorbed into your bloodstream.
The Top-Selling Toothpaste Example Revisited: What Its Ingredient Label Is Really Telling You
Remember the top-selling toothpaste that we looked at earlier? Now that we’ve shed some light on these ingredients, this is what the label is actually telling you:
- Sodium Fluoride – A poison that accumulates in your bones and tissues
- Triclosan – May affect your thyroid, brain, and reproductive functioning
- Hydrated Silica – A component of sand that can damage your enamel
- Glycerin – Likely sourced from a genetically engineered vegetable oil
- Sorbitol – A sugar alcohol that’s likely genetically engineered
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – Can potentially break down your mouth lining
- Carrageenan – A gastrointestinal irritant and potential carcinogen
- Propylene Glycol – A tissue “penetration enhancer” used in antifreeze
- Sodium Saccharin – An artificial sweetener
- FD&C Blue No.1 and D&C Yellow No.10 – Petrochemical dyes that are allowed in toothpaste, but banned from food
Is this really a product you would want to use?
Introducing Refreshing Mint Toothpaste With Tulsi
Dr Mercola knew he could come up with a toothpaste that was even better than the original, one that would give you refreshingly clean teeth and breath, provide whiteness, and effectively fight and prevent caries (all types of tooth decay) without carrageenan.
Just because many “natural” toothpastes contain carrageenan, SLS, and other potentially harmful ingredients, Dr Mercola’s doesn’t need to. Creating it wasn’t a simple task as his team spent countless hours researching ingredients to take the original toothpaste to the next level.
They carefully scrutinised the source and quality of every ingredient to meet exacting standards:
- Must use organic ingredients whenever available
- No fluoride, but would still provide protection against dental caries
- No genetically engineered ingredients
- No carrageenan or other potentially carcinogenic ingredients
- No synthetic preservatives, but would still have a long shelf life
- No hidden heavy metals, contaminants or impurities
- No harsh chemical foaming agents like SLS or SLES
- No artificial flavours or sweeteners, but would taste good
- No harsh sand (silica), but would still provide whiteness
- No potentially dangerous anti-microbials like Triclosan
Sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it? That’s why it took us as long as it did to formulate his Refreshing Mint Toothpaste With Tulsi.
Accomplishing the Near-Impossible
How did Dr Mercola accomplish his mission? One look at the ingredients in the Refreshing Mint Toothpaste With Tulsi tells the whole story:
- Calcium Carbonate – Highly purified mild abrasive for cleaning. Extensively tested for heavy metals (especially lead, arsenic and mercury) and metal contaminants like aluminium, copper, and zinc.
- Xylitol – Research shows it prevents dental caries and helps reverse early caries. Derived from non-GMO corn sources, so it’s not genetically modified.
- Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice – Helps clean your teeth and gums while soothing your entire mouth.
- Kosher Vegetable Glycerin – Promotes smoothness and taste. Tested for heavy metals and organic impurities.
- Kosher Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda) – Promotes whiteness and helps freshen breath. Tested for heavy metals and organic volatile impurities.
- Lauryl Glucoside – Helps blend oils and water. Sourced from coconut.
- Organic Tapioca Starch – Used traditionally in the West Indies for oral health.
- Cellulose Gum – Helps make toothpaste thick and creamy.
- Cultured Dextrose – Enhances flavor and mouth-feel. Acts as a preservative. Ours is non-genetically modified and produced by natural fermentation using starter cultures.
- Zinc Oxide – For whiteness. Tested for heavy metals.
- Organic Stevia Leaf Extract – Provides sweetness. Enzyme-treated to reduce unpleasant metallic taste. Tested for heavy metals.
- Glycyrrhizic Acid (Liquorice fruit extract) – Promotes oral health and freshens breath. Tested for heavy metals.
- Organic Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil – Promotes clean teeth and gums, and helps reduce normal plaque accumulation. Traditionally used topically for skin care.
- Organic Ocimum sanctum (Tulsi Holy Basil) Leaf Oil – For cleansing and keeping breath fresh. Traditionally used as a medicinal in India.
- Natural Cardamom Mint flavour for delicious, fresh taste!
That’s every last ingredient in the Refreshing Mint Toothpaste with Tulsi. There are no hidden surprises or ingredients. It’s a long list, but Dr Mercola wanted to make sure you had everything you need for complete dental care.
If you’d like to supercharge your oral care routine, you can add the Dr Mercola Coconut Oil Oral Rinse, great for “pulling” and maintaining a healthy mouth flora, Dr Mercola’s Organic Peppermint Essential Oil, which adds a refreshing, exhilarating taste, and the Dental Floss, which has no fluoride coating and features the fresh taste of beneficial essential oils.
The Secret Ingredient for a Sparkling Smile – and Healthy Gums
Instead of using potentially dangerous ingredients, Dr Mercola turned to botanicals to provide cleaning of teeth and gums and whiteness.
One in particular, Holy Basil, or Tulsi, has held his attention for many years as an outstanding overall tonic for health. It’s one of the finest medicinal herbs ever discovered.
Evidently, people in India agree. As part of an ancient custom, family members worship the plant and illuminate it with lamps twice a day. To this day, Holy Basil plays an essential role in worship ceremonies. People believe it protects them from evil and brings good luck.
As for oral care, Tulsi is an exceptional mouth freshener and cleanser, and helps support a beneficial balance of healthy mouth flora. It also helps prevent dental caries while it soothes your mouth.
While Refreshing Mint Toothpaste With Tulsi contains several excellent plant extracts for cleaning teeth and gums, fighting caries, and freshening breath, in my opinion, Tulsi is the crowning glory.
It’s Time to Take Control of Your Oral Heath
It’s up to you. No one else is going to watch out for your oral health when it comes to toothpaste, perhaps not even your dentist. Now that you know what’s in your tube of toothpaste, you can decide what’s best for you and your family. You can choose a toothpaste that contains potentially hazardous ingredients. Or you can choose one that cleans and freshens your teeth, gums, and breath, and prevents dental caries with botanicals and ingredients that meet my strict standards.
You and your entire family will enjoy brushing with this Refreshing Mint Toothpaste with Tulsi. And you’ll appreciate knowing you’re making a wise decision to help safeguard your family’s oral health.