Did you know that the average adult will use about 20 gallons of toothpaste in their lifetime? Although we don’t ingest those 20 gallons worth, our mouths are one of the most absorbent areas of the body. That means that what’s in our toothpaste is readily absorbed into our bloodstream. With that in mind, shouldn’t we pay a little more attention to what is in our toothpaste? Here’s the harsh truth about toothpaste and 4 ingredients to be aware of.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a surfactant, which acts as a foaming agent in toothpaste. SLS allows the toothpaste to be more easily spread across the teeth. It also pulls stains and particles away from the teeth and gums. While this sounds like it’s doing its job, SLS has a few side effects. SLS can cause mouth irritation, allergic reactions and canker sores. Choosing an SLS-free toothpaste can reduce inflammation and feel more comfortable for people with sensitive teeth. It’s worth noting that SLS can also be listed as sodium dodecyl sulfate, sulfuric acid, monododecyl ester, sodium salt, sodium salt sulfuric acid, sodium dodecyl sulfate, aquarex me or aquarex methyl, according to the Environmental Working Group.
Fluoride causes mineralization of the teeth, keeping them hard and strong, which is why it was believed to prevent cavities. For these reasons, it has been widely added to toothpastes and other dental care products, even our municipal water supply. But, fluoride has been controversial. Notably, “most developed countries, including Japan and 97% of the western European population, do not consume fluoridated water,” according to Fluoride Action Network. Studies have linked exposure to fluoride to brain damage, lower IQ, neurotoxic effects, arthritic symptoms and even cancer. At the same time, there is plenty of evidence to show that fluoride does not actually prevent tooth decay.
Triclosan is an ingredient added to many consumer products, including toothpaste, to prevent the growth of bacteria. In 2016, the FDA banned the use of triclosan in antibacterial soaps, yet it is still permitted to be used in toothpaste. Why? Major toothpaste manufacturer Colgate Total has convinced the FDA that the benefits outweigh the risks. All the while, studies have shown triclosan can disrupt the normal development of the reproductive system and metabolism. Colgate Total is currently the only toothpaste still using triclosan.
Parabens are commonly found in products, such as toothpaste, as a preservative and to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria. The downside? Studies have shown that parabens can mimic the hormone estrogen’s activity in the body – which can lead to development and reproductive issues as well as breast cancer. Parabens have even been found in breast cancer tumors. Parabens may be listed as the following ingredients: Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Isopropylparaben, Benzylparaben.
When it comes to your toothpaste ingredients, it is best to take the “safe not sorry” approach. Why jeopardize your health and your family’s health when there are plenty of effective natural toothpaste options available?