Rethinking Your Toothpaste
For years I used conventional toothpaste like Crest or Colgate and thought nothing about it. Becoming an educated consumer takes time and research and what I’ve discovered about many products including toothpaste is downright frightening. I always wondered why the toothpaste directions specifically stated “do not swallow”, now I know. Conventional toothpaste, including “organic” ones, are chock full of harmful ingredients, some of which are toxic, and can actually weaken the enamel on your teeth. Your mouth is one of the most absorbent places in your entire body. While you are brushing, the ingredients enter your mouth and gums making their way into your bloodstream.
And while the FDA has approved many of these ingredients, they were approved in the amounts as specified in each product. What most folks don't understand is that they are exposed to these harmful chemicals in many everyday products that they use like toothpaste, body wash, soap, detergents, dish soap, shampoo, conditioners, etc..
Below are some typical toothpaste ingredients and why they are harmful:
Though banned in 2016, conventional toothpaste can contain Triclosan, a chemical germ killer. Triclosan was originally registered as a pesticide and is linked to cancer, disrupts thyroid hormones and affects heart function. Just check the ingredient list on your tubes of toothpaste to be sure it’s not an old one.
Made from a red seaweed and used as a thickening agent in many processed foods, undegraded carrageenan (the type that is widely used in foods) has been associated with malignancies and other stomach problems.
Polyethylene glycols (PEG)
Did you know that polyethylene is the most common plastic in the world? It is used mostly for containers and packaging. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said this about PEG’s:
“Ethylene glycol is chemically broken down in the body into toxic compounds. It and its toxic byproducts first affect the central nervous system (CNS), then the heart, and finally the kidneys. Ingestion of sufficient amounts can be fatal.”
Fluoridated toothpaste damages gums. At the concentrations used in commercial fluoridated toothpaste (1,000 ppm), fluoride causes gum damage by poisoning enzyme activity and slowing down the gums’ self-repair mechanisms. A study published in Neurologia showed that the prolonged ingestion of fluoride may cause significant damage to health and particularly to the nervous system. Fluoride can cause side effects like damage to the brain, decreased IQ in children, damage to the pineal gland, thyroid gland, bones, gastrointestinal tract, and cause cancers.
According to J. Lee et al. (published in Toxicology in January 2008, pp. 340–347), sodium fluoride is cytotoxic (harms/kills living cells) and produces an inflammatory response.
Surfactants such as sodium lauryl sulfate are readily absorbed in the body and are considered carcinogenic. They can also cause skin and eye irritations, hormone imbalances, denaturing of structural proteins, canker sores, and mouth ulcers.
The other name of sorbitol is ‘glucitol’. It is actually a sugar alcohol, which is slowly metabolized by the human body. Sugar alcohols are famous for causing digestive distress. According to Chris Kresser, “because sugar alcohols are FODMAPs and are largely indigestible, they can cause diarrhea by pulling excess water into the large intestine. The fermentation of sugar alcohols by gut bacteria can also cause gas and bloating, and sugar alcohols may decrease fat absorption from other foods.”
What all such sugars apparently do is lower the pH of the dental plaque (more acidity = more damage to the tooth). If you find aspartame, be aware that it is toxic and has been connected to dozens of diseases including brain tumors. If your toothpaste contains saccharine, be aware that it may increase your cancer risk, diabetes, and promote an allergy issue. Xylitol is a wonderful sugar substitute if it’s made from hardwoods and not GM corn, you can’t tell by reading your toothpaste label as to where it was sourced.
Propylene glycol is an active component in antifreeze and acts as a solvent or surfactant. Did you know that the EPA considers propylene glycol to be so dangerously toxic that it must be handled with gloves, protective clothing, goggles, and proper disposal?
According to Dr. Gerald F. Judd’s research, you must avoid all toothpaste containing glycerin. Glycerine coats your teeth like plastic wrap blocking your teeth from absorbing nutrients and re-mineralizing. Toothpaste with glycerin “require 20 rinses to get it off” (Judd, Good Teeth, Birth to Death). Calcium and phosphorus, minerals the teeth need which are normally present in our saliva, continually flow through our teeth. Glycerin residue prevents this natural flow, aids in demineralization and impedes the re-mineralization process, this accelerates tooth decay and other dental problems.
Diethanolamine (DEA) is a foaming agent that’s linked to liver and kidney cancers. DEA disrupts hormones and forms cancer-causing nitrates.
FD & C Dyes 1 &2
These are artificial; colors linked to multiple health problems. FD&C color dyes have been found to cause headaches, asthma, allergic reactions, and even cancer.
So after reading about all of the ingredients I’ve used for over 40 years to clean my teeth, I freaked. I may have had fresh breath, but was slowly administering poison to myself every day!
I decided to begin making my own re-mineralizing toothpaste and think it’s fabulous, my teeth feel like I just stepped out of the dentist’s chair each time I brush. It’s chock full of good for you ingredients, contains nothing that is harmful.
Here are the ingredients in my re-mineralizing toothpaste and what they do for you:
The last thing you want in your toothpaste is fluoride, chlorine and other “who knows what” additives. Spend the $1.00 for distilled water, it’s worth it.
Bentonite clay has the ability to absorb toxins, heavy metals, and impurities and also creates a slip effect while brushing.
Calcium is good for your bones and teeth and works with magnesium to whiten them. Potassium improves bone mineral density. It also works with magnesium to prevent blood from becoming too acidic, which can leach calcium from your bones and teeth. Phosphorus supports calcium in building strong bones and teeth.
Coconut oil is a natural antibacterial and antifungal material, and it also helps bind the ingredients together. Lauric acid is a medium-chain fatty acid that makes up almost 50% of coconut oil. Your body breaks lauric acid down into a compound called monolaurin. Both lauric acid and monolaurin can kill harmful bacteria, fungi, and viruses in the body. It is particularly effective at killing an oral bacteria called Streptococcus mutans, which is a leading cause of tooth decay. The lauric acid in coconut oil attacks harmful bacteria in the mouth that can cause bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.
Baking soda helps whiten the teeth by removing stains. It also contains minerals and is alkaline.
Adding a boost of bio-available trace minerals will provide an array of extra minerals to your toothpaste.
Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
Pink salt contains approximately 84 minerals and trace elements including calcium, magnesium, silicon, phosphorus, sodium, nickel, and iron. These nutrients strengthen gums, protect against tartar and bad breath, and may even whiten your teeth over time. High in iodine, sea salt has antibacterial properties and helps neutralize acids in the mouth. Salt makes you salivate, and your saliva creates an antibacterial barrier that protects your enamel.
Xylitol is a natural sweetener derived from the fibrous parts of plants. It does not break down like sugar and can help keep a neutral pH level in the mouth. Xylitol also prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth protecting them from decay. Make sure your Xylitol is sourced from birch trees, other hardwoods and not GM corn.
Cinnamon has properties that are antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal, and slightly anesthetic, which can be beneficial for sore tissues and it tastes great!
Another ingredient that is worth a try is unprocessed cocoa nibs, they have a re-mineralizing ability and also act as a PH stabilizer.
Some folks use essential oils when they make their toothpaste, just be sure to do your research first. There are a few I think would be worth a try like orange, peppermint, cinnamon, and clove bud to start.
Here is the recipe that I came up with and I love it!
Homemade Toothpaste Recipe:
½ Cup Distilled water
¼ Cup Bentonite Clay
3 TBLS Coconut Oil
1 TBLS Calcium/Magnesium/Potassium Powder or 3-4 tablets
2 tsp Xylitol
1 tsp cinnamon powder
¼ tsp Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
¼ tsp Baking Soda
Place the first three ingredients in a small food processor. Place the remaining ingredients in a mortar and pestle and grind everything until it becomes a nice powder. Add the contents of the mortar and pestle to the food processor and blend until smooth. I put the contents of the food processor into a piping bag (the kind used to frost cakes) and filled two squeeze bottles from the travel section at Target with a little bit left to spare.