Everyone hates going to the dentist (ok, well almost everyone). And yet to maintain healthy teeth and gums we dutifully head to our dental cleaning appointments twice a year to keep up our dazzling smiles. Of course, brushing your teeth twice a day, every day, is the number one way to ensure those dreaded visits to the dentist are little more than an inconvenience rather than a (literal) headache. Brushing is so important to proper mouth care! But have you ever stopped to think about the kind of toothpaste you’re using – and if it could actually be bad for you?
What’s Wrong with Conventional Toothpaste
Unfortunately, conventional toothpastes can be full of toxic ingredients that can honestly do your oral health more damage than good! Listed below are four of the most common and most harmful ingredients found in conventional toothpaste that no one should be using in their mouths.
✗ Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS)
SLS is a chemical sudsing agent that is found in many shampoos, soaps and body washes to help get that thick lather we love so much; it does the same for toothpaste. Most people have a mistaken psychological connection between sudsing and cleanliness that keeps companies putting the detergent in their products unnecessarily. Again, not something you’d probably put in your mouth in any other circumstance so why do it with your toothpaste?!
Parabens are chemicals put in health and beauty products to prolong their shelf life, keeping them free of bacteria and mold so you’re not constantly cleaning out your medicine cabinet. Convenient, sure, but unfortunately they have been known to cause cancer (like so many other ingredients on our list!).
Saccharin is a petroleum-based product that’s used to add sweetness to a number of different food and beauty products. It has been proven to cause cancer in lab rats and has been known to cause headaches, allergies, skin rashes and more.
For so long, we’ve been told that fluoride is the number one way to fight cavities and keep our mouths healthy. That’s just not the case. In fact, fluoride is actually quite lethal in large doses and can cause a variety of harmful side effects in smaller doses.
Some harmful effects of fluoride:
- Disrupted immune system
- muscle disorders
- increased tumor rate
- thyroid disease
- genetic damage
Natural Toothpaste Alternatives
Now for the good news! There are so many store-bought and homemade natural toothpaste alternatives that are affordable, effective and non-toxic; these options will help make your switch from conventional to natural completely effortless and easy!
✓ Activated Charcoal
Yes, the idea of rubbing black charcoal paste all over your teeth may seem a bit odd but not only does activated charcoal have antibacterial properties that will help clean your mouth, it’s a natural whitening agent too! To use, simply mix one teaspoon of water with one teaspoon of activated charcoal powder until combined and brush your teeth as usual! To reap all the whitening benefits, let the paste sit on your teeth for about five minutes before rinsing.
✓ Baking Soda
Baking soda is a natural abrasive (which means it can cause issues!) that helps clean your teeth of any plaque, germs and bacteria that may have built up on the surface. And just like activated charcoal, it is a natural whitening agent so it pulls serious natural toothpaste double duty. Just mix a teaspoon of baking soda with water and brush your teeth as normal.
Thankfully, many natural health companies have caught on to the toothpaste train and have brought out a number of non-toxic, fluoride-free and (most importantly!) effective natural toothpastes. You can find brands like Bronner’s Liquid Soap, Tom’s, Kiss My Face and Jason at many regular drug stores or your local health food market. Even Trader Joe’s makes their own brand of natural toothpaste at an incredibly low cost!
The most important part of your daily oral care routine is the actual act of brushing your teeth. This is how you rid your mouth of the majority of the harmful bacteria and germs that cause gum disease, bad breath and cavities. The toothpaste helps, of course, but does not need to be full of a random assortment of chemicals and preservatives. That’s why making the switch to natural toothpaste is so important!