There are many toxins and potential carcinogens in today’s mainstream dental care products. These include:
- Triclosan – Endocrine disruptor and carcinogen
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) – Skin irritant that is often contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, an established carcinogen
- Parabens – Hormone disruptor
- Aspartame – Neurotoxin
- Propylene glycol – Irritant linked to organ toxicity
And countless other synthetic ingredients that may or may not cause health issues. We don’t know because ingredients in personal care products aren’t regulated by the FDA.
But it’s important to also be aware that some natural toothpastes contain often contain potentially harmful ingredients as well – namely, fluoride and carrageenan. There is a fair amount about of debate about whether or not these ingredients are safe, and officially, the jury is still out. Here’s a brief summary of the pros and cons of each:
What it is: A natural mineral found in the earth’s crust that is added to drinking water and toothpastes to harden tooth enamel and prevent decay
Cons: Has been implicated arthritis, endocrine disruption, reproductive damage, and lower IQ in children, among other issues
Pros: Some dentists feel that’s it’s important for preventing tooth decay and remineralizing teeth.
What it is: An additive extracted from a special kind of seaweed that is often used as a thickening agent in food and toothpaste
Cons: Studies have linked it to gastrointestinal inflammation and colon cancer
Pros: Aside from creating an arguably more desirable texture in some products, carrageenan doesn’t have any purported benefits. Some say that it’s safe in low doses.
My personal policy is to avoid these two ingredients because while I doubt that in such small doses they would cause me serious health problems, I still don’t like the idea of having potentially hazardous ingredients in my personal care products.
That being said, I think people should use their own judgment and intuition when it comes to these sort of things. I’ve included a list of sources at the end of the post so you can do some research on your own and come to your own conclusions.
Note: if you decide you want to remove fluoride from your drinking water, I recommend Aquagear water filter pitcher.
Now that we’ve covered the hazardous ingredients in mainstream dental hygiene products, here’s a roundup of all the dental hygiene products I use:
The vast majority of natural toothpastes use carrageenan, so make sure you read the ingredients when shopping. My favorite brand of natural toothpaste is Himalaya Botanique. It is an Ayurvedic (holistic Indian) formula that uses Triphala – detoxifying herbal concoction, Pomegranate – astringent fruit that supports gum health, and Neem – medicinal herb that prevents cavities and freshens breath. I use the Complete Care Version in Cinnamon. It tastes fantastic and has a really great texture that seems to be lacking in most natural toothpaste brands.
Mainstream dental floss usually has artificial flavoring with toxic ingredients like aspartame. I use Radius Natural Mint Floss with Xylitol.
Most mouthwashes contain harsh chemicals and alcohol which can increase one’s risk of mouth and throat cancers.
I use PerioBrite mouthwash, which is alcohol-free and contains many nutrients and herbs that promote oral health such as CoQ10, folic acid, clove, oregano, and gotu kola. It tastes great and leaves my mouth feeling nice and clean, but not dried out.
After brushing my teeth at night and mouth washing with PerioBrite mouthwash, I swish around some of Uncle Harry’s Liquid Remineralization. This formula remineralizes teeth with calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, neutralizes acids and bacteria, and promotes an alkaline pH. It also contains pink sea salt, and the essential oils of peppermint, eucalyptus, clove, wintergreen, and oregano.
I’ve found that it’s especially important to remineralize one’s teeth after consuming acidic drinks – orange juice, kombucha, wine, beer, and alcohol in general. Acid can contribute to enamel erosion, leading to weaker teeth.
When I started using only natural products, I tried a few complicated and somewhat expensive natural teeth whitening systems that straight up did not work. I was frustrated because even though I had invested all this time and money on these products, my teeth were still not white.
Then, one day when I was perusing the Whole Body section of Whole Foods, I found this little bottle of tooth whitening powder from Eco-Dent. I followed the instructions, which is to just put just a smidge of powder on your toothbrush after brushing your teeth, and brush again for 30 seconds or so.
Within a few days of doing this, I began getting remarks from people on how white my teeth were. Everyone wanted to know what I was using! I continued using the powder for a few more days until I got to the level of whiteness I wanted. I personally think it’s best to have your teeth not look unnaturally white because then it’s just too obvious, but with this powder you can go as white as you want.
I think of this as kind a miracle product because it’s so quick and effective, one bottle lasts a long time, and the price is right at just around $8.
Toothbrushes typically are made up entirely of plastic, which is not biodegradable and leaches toxic chemicals into the earth when put into landfills. If we replace our toothbrush every 3 to 4 months as we’re supposed to, we collectively create lots unnecessary plastic waste.
I’ve been using Radius Source Toothbrush and it’s awesome. The handles are made from materials such as recycled wood and the bristles are made from vegetable oil. It has more bristles than regular toothbrushes and covers a wider radius, thereby helping to gently massage and clean your gums. The gum massage feels amazing!
And the best thing is that you can replace the toothbrush head, reducing the amount of plastic that would be wasted if you got a whole new toothbrush.
Those are my favorite dental care products!
Now for my favorite holistic dental care ritual:
Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) detoxification ritual that can cure and prevent tooth decay, promote healthy gums, whiten teeth, freshen breath, and alkalize the pH of one’s mouth. It’s even thought to have benefits for overall systemic health, since our mouths are an entry way for pathogens and toxins.
Sesame oil was used in the traditional Indian method because that was all they had access to. Modern day holistic wellness practitioners recommend using coconut oil because it has antiviral and bacterial properties.
How to oil pull
Measure 1 tbsp of organic coconut oil and add 1-2 drops peppermint or tea tree oil. Gently swish the oil around in your mouth for as long as you feel comfortable, up to 20 minutes. Then spit it out into the trash, not the sink because coconut oil solidifies in colder temperatures and can clog up your drain.
Afterwards, brush your teeth as you normally would.
What is carrageenan? – Dr. Axe
Watch out for this carcinogen in your organic food – The Food Babe
9 shocking dangers of fluoride exposure – Global Healing Center
Mouthwash and oral cancer link – Dr. Joe Bulgar
Can mouthwash backfire on you? – Dr. Joe Bulgar