What's Lurking in Your Toothpaste?


If a smile is the first thing most people notice about a person, why don’t we pay attention to what we’re putting on our teeth? Equally as important, why aren’t we paying attention to what we’re putting in our bodies through our toothpaste? I began to think about this question when I realized that we put nasty toxins in our mouth twice a day when we brush our teeth.

Mouth-Body Connection

There’s a mouth-body connection. What happens in your mouth affects your whole body. If you neglect proper oral hygiene, you allow bacteria to build up on your teeth. This makes the gums vulnerable to infection. The immune system does its job by attacking the infection, but now your gums are compromised by inflammation. When you have inflammation in your mouth, you diminish your body’s ability to control blood sugar. This could be a major complication for diabetics because of the high blood sugar. High blood sugar opens the door for infections to grow. This includes gum infections. The mouth-body connection affects heart disease, osteoporosis, pregnancy, and other conditions that are currently being studied. Do you see how the mouth-body connection causes a domino effect?

Ingredients to Avoid in Toothpaste

Artificial sweeteners – the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labels them high-intensity sweeteners because they’re sweeter than sugar but contain few to no calories. They are classified as: saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium (ACE-K), sucralose, neotame, and advantame. The FDA approves their use for the general population when used in moderation, but do you want high-intensity synthetic sugar substitutes on your pearly whites?

Diethanolamine (DEA) – used to make toothpaste sudsy or foamy; it’s linked to various cancers in humans and organ system toxicity.

Fluoride – a mineral meant to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is highly toxic, hence the warning label on toothpastes cautioning not to swallow fluoridated toothpaste. There’s much debate about the chronic (long-term) effects of fluoride. However, our dentist recommends the use of fluoride when she sees the earliest signs of a cavity. As a side note, sodium fluoride is also used in rodenticides and insecticides to kill rodents and insects. Just a little tidbit I thought you’d like to know.

Propylene Glycol – petroleum-based compound used as a surfactant. They act as a foaming agent and detergent. They increase oral irritation in people prone to canker sores. It’s also used to retain moisture in toothpaste so it doesn’t dry out. It’s also used in paint and antifreeze. Enough said.

Sodium Lauryl (or Laureth) Sulfate (SLS)/Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLES) – a foaming agent and surfactant (detergent). It interferes with the functioning of your taste buds. Do you ever wonder why foods and beverages taste funny after you brush? SLS is your culprit. Get this --- sodium lauryl sulfate is a registered insecticide. Need I say more?

Triclosan – an antibacterial chemical. It’s linked to antibiotic resistance, hormone disruption, and cancer. In September 2016, triclosan was removed from antibacterial soaps.

So what are you to do? Look for natural toothpastes that do not include all of the toxic ingredients. Some even have natural fluoride, if you are skeptical about giving up fluoride. I understand. We all grew up hearing about the importance of fluoride for cavity prevention.

Another alternative is to (wait for it…) make your own toothpaste. Gasp! Someone go fan grandma because she just fainted at what I just wrote. Essentially, with proper oral hygiene, you want to kill mouth bacteria. You can do this naturally with coconut oil. Recent research shows that coconut oil is effective in fighting mouth bacteria. Coconut oil also reduces plaque buildup, prevents tooth decay, and fights gum disease.

Secondly, you want to neutralize the pH of your mouth. Certain foods and beverages cause your mouth to become acidic (pH 6.5 or below). A healthy mouth is alkaline, or non-acidic (pH 7.5 or above). By brushing with baking soda, you alkalize your mouth. This is the toothpaste recipe I use. I alter it slightly by adding melted coconut oil to make it toothpaste instead of a tooth powder. I slowly mix in melted coconut oil until it gets to the desired consistency. You can also add a little distilled water to it to help with the consistency. This recipe received the seal of approval from our dentist.

Finally, eat for healthy teeth. You know my mantra, “What you put on the inside shows on the outside.” Eat foods consisting of vitamins K2, D, and C, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and calcium. You can get these nutrients through fermented foods, nuts, vegetables, fruits, and healthy meats. Most importantly, avoid added sugars.

Naturally maintaining your pearly whites is not only good for your teeth, but it’s good for your health. The fewer toxins we take in, the less they add to the ones already accumulating in our bodies. Also, you and your dentist will notice cleaner, tartar-free teeth. Remember, a healthy smile is a beautiful smile.