Do you know what's in your toothpaste?

Aside from fluoride, which is dangerous enough, I mean ...

by Michael Smith

Aside from the fluoride, which is after all a poison, an accumulative one like arsenic, and, so it is said, a neural pathway agent, there are other things in most toothpaste that too can be harmful to you.

The FDA limits the content of fluoride in toothpaste to 1150 ppm, because of its toxicity and too much fluoride can produce fluorosis, a common finding today.

Fluoride is, as I mentioned, a poison like arsenic and like aspartame. And yes, we tend to end up with both fluoride and aspartame in stuff that we put into our mouths and bodies.

The Negative Effects of Fluoride:
While so many toothpastes today contain fluoride and the "virtues" of fluoride are literally everywhere in the media, the negative effects of fluoride are rarely mentioned. It cannot be denied that fluoride promotes a hardening of the outer layers of enamel by combining fluoride with the tooth enamel. These hardened areas may resist acid better than a calcium based-matrix, but will eventually stain (fluorosis) or fracture. They may begin as hypo-calcified areas or whitish spots on the enamel surface. Later in time these areas will darken and chip, leaving unsightly spots on the teeth and areas for requiring restoration.

We are told, again and again, that fluoride in toothpaste and in drinking water prevents cavities, but many studies reveal a different story. There appear to be many studies in which fluoride increased the caries rate. Of course, the Dental Associations in most countries take a different point of view. Other studies have revealed that when fluoridated cities were compared to unfluoridated cities, there was virtually no difference in caries rates.

The next thing that comes to mind, after the fluoride, is the surfactants of the various sorts that are used to make the toothpaste foam. More often than not those are the very same surfactants that are also found in the various detergents. Yuck!

But let us look at a list of common ingredients that are found in many major brand toothpastes:

First of there is Sodium Fluoride and please note that as is the first on the list of ingredients it means that it is the highest proportion in the contents.

Sodium Fluoride is a cancer causing agent and neurotoxin. In toothpaste it is – supposedly – used to prevent tooth decay and as insecticide, disinfectant, and preservative in cosmetics. It can cause nausea and vomiting when ingested and even death, depending upon the dose. Tooth enamel mottling has also been reported.

Then there is are the surfactants and other things that also do not necessarily make for good reading.

Depending on the brand there is Sodium Carbonate - Soda Ash. It absorbs water from the air. Has an alkaline taste and is used as an antacid and reagent in permanent wave solutions, soaps, mouthwashes, shampoos, amongst other things. It is the cause of scalp, forehead, and hand rash experienced by some people when using soaps and other preparations that contain this substance.

In addition to that there are often artificial sweeteners, whether Sodium Saccharin which is 300 times sweeter than sugar, but leaves a bitter after taste and on the FDA's priority list for further safety testing, or there is Aspartame, which is known to be toxic and also a neural pathway agent.

Then there are preservatives and other stuff in there the reading of which makes me feel rather nauseous. No, just reading the list, not actually using a fluoride toothpaste, for I don't.

Since we still need to brush our teeth, what do we do? Luckily there are companies that use high-quality, safe ingredients, including:

calcium carbonate—a natural mineral used to gently clean teeth
baking soda—a gentle abrasive that leaves your teeth feeling smooth after you brush
silica—a mild abrasive that helps remove plaque
stevia—a natural herbal sweetener without the harmful effects of artificial alternatives
xylitol—an important ingredient because it is believed to reduce decay causing bacteria and enhances remineralization
tea tree and neen—both contain antibacterial properties which help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

Now that you are equipped with your lists of ingredients, you will be better able to make educated choices about the toothpaste you use. Start by examining the ingredients list of your favorite toothpaste and consider some natural alternatives. Your body will appreciate it.

Other tips to maintain healthy teeth include replacing your toothbrush regularly and asking your dentist to demonstrate the proper techniques to brush and floss. Also, throw away that manual toothbrush and get an electric one. While this may increase you environmental footprint somewhat it certainly is worth the investment. I can vouch for that.

Your teeth are important; they are the first step in achieving good digestion. The break down of food begins in the mouth. The more we chew, the better the cell walls get broken down, preparing the food for the digestive system and helping the body to receive all the food’s nutrients. With education and informed choices, there need not be a conflict between oral health and overall health.

I have been using a particular brand of fluoride-free toothpaste bought from healthfood stores, one which is supposed to be all natural ingredients – but having investigated the ingredients list there I must say that I am somewhat concerned as well for while it contains tea tree oil and aloe vera it still have glycerol and such ingredients, though claimed to be from natural sources. This still makes me wonder somewhat as to what we can and cannot believe of claims until we actually research each and everything to the greatest possible depth. But, who has got the time to do that all the time?

Maybe we should create our own tooth powder from the above safe list?? It might also be healthier and safer.

© M Smith (Veshengro), December 2008