We all know that brushing our teeth is essential for maintaining good oral hygiene, leaving us with that fresh and clean feeling. But have you ever wondered about the chemicals lurking in your toothpaste? Some of these toxic toothpaste ingredients, along with other dental care components, might be doing more harm than good.
The Toxicity of Toothpaste
Considering that 69% of people use toothpaste at least twice a day, it's surprising to learn that toothpaste contains potentially harmful ingredients. While traditional toothpaste effectively removes plaque, prevents cavities, and fights gum inflammation, some of its components are not entirely safe.
In fact, poison control centres often receive calls from concerned parents because their child has swallowed toothpaste. Swallowing toothpaste that contains harmful chemicals can lead to symptoms such as diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal discomfort.
Even without swallowing, toxins in toothpaste can irritate the mouth over time. Given the mouth's significant impact on overall health, poor oral hygiene can lead to various health issues, including bacterial pneumonia, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), osteoporosis, prostate cancer, and unexplained weight gain.
Toxic Toothpaste Ingredients and Other Oral Care Products
Alcohol is commonly found in mouthwash for its antibacterial properties, but it has well-known health concerns. It indiscriminately eliminates both beneficial and harmful bacteria, potentially disrupting your body's ecosystem. Furthermore, research has linked alcohol to the development of oral cancer.
Alcohol can also cause dry mouth syndrome with symptoms like an increased risk of plaque and gum disease, mouth sores, thrush (a mouth yeast infection), split skin at the mouth's corners, and cracked lips.
Artificial colouring, such as titanium dioxide, is added to toothpaste for visual appeal. However, it is not always safe and has been associated with hyperactivity and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. Who wants to be brushing with bright blue paste anyway?!
Toothpaste companies often use artificial sweeteners to improve taste. Artificial sweeteners like sorbitol and saccharin can pose problems, including diarrhoea when ingested by children.
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener added to toothpaste, but it has faced criticism for its potential carcinogenicity. Aspartame's breakdown products include methanol, which the body cannot digest and may convert into formaldehyde, causing various health issues.
Carrageenan, used as a thickening agent, can lead to inflammatory skin conditions, intestinal problems, colon ulcerations and cancer.
Cocamidopropyl betaine, an emulsifier and thickener, may cause skin sensitisation upon contact and is considered an eco-toxin harmful to the environment.
Used in toothpaste for increased foaming, DEA is a hormone disruptor and is rated as an irritant, human respiratory toxin, and carcinogen by the EWG. It is banned in Canadian cosmetics... yet it still lurks in a lot of popular toothpaste brands!
Parabens, preservatives that extend toothpaste shelf life, are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer and may accumulate in the body.
Propylene glycol, a synthetic chemical used as a detergent, emulsifier, or foaming agent, is considered long-term toxic, especially for children. It is also used in antifreeze and brake fluid.
Saccharin (Sodium Saccharin)
Saccharin, another artificial sweetener in toothpaste, has been identified as a carcinogen. It increased the risk of bladder cancer, brain tumours, and lymphoma in mice and rats.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
SLS, a popular insecticide, is also used in toothpaste to create foam. However, it can cause microscopic mouth tears, leading to canker sores and other irritations. SLS strips the mouth's natural lining, weakening it.
Titanium Dioxide (TiO2)
Titanium dioxide adds the characteristic white colour to toothpaste but offers no oral benefits. Concerns exist about its potential carcinogenicity and non-reproductive organ system toxicity when absorbed by the mouth's membranes.
This antibacterial and antifungal agent can disrupt thyroid hormones, promote cancer, and create antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It's actually been banned in soap and body wash products, yet can still be found in most toothpaste brands.
So... what should you be using instead?
Well, we're not all going to just stop brushing our teeth... but what should you be brushing your teeth with instead? Rather than opting for traditional toothpaste, consider switching to a safer, more sustainable oral care alternative. Our tooth tabs harness the power of nature and science to bring you a safe, sustainable alternative - that works.