One of the last products we consider going non-toxic with is our oral care. The minty freshness is a clean, antiseptic taste that we like to assume comes from peppermint oil. Why wouldn’t it? But the truth is, our toothpastes and other products sometimes tout ingredient lists long enough to shock even the most versed gurus in clean beauty.
When investing in oral care for yourself and your family, we implore you to put your money where your mouth is. Cosmetic dentist Dr. Kevin Sands knows that as consumers, we are overwhelmed with choices when it comes to oral care products. According to Dr. Sands, the top ingredient no-no’s are “fake colors, artificial sweeteners, and added antibiotics.”
That’s right. That creamy seafoam-green toothpaste is likely not that color due to muddled peppermint leaves, hate to break it to ya. Not many colors are approved by the FDA, and are such an unnecessary part of the brushing experience, in our opinion. Yellow No. 5 has even been linked to hyperactivity, anxiety, headaches, diarrhea, and cancer.
Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners
Saccharin and aspartame are commonly used to make toothpaste sweet and palatable, as they do not cause as much tooth decay as sugar itself, but they can be toxic and cause allergic reactions. The buildup of aspartame in the body has been linked to neurobehavioral issues like migraines and headaches, as well as to even more serious problems like cognition and mood disorders, depression, and even ADHD.
Triclosan and antibiotics
If you’re not yet tired of hearing the term microbiome, good. It’s here to stay. Our mouths have a microbiome of their own, and it’s super important for gum and oral health. Added, unprescribed antibiotics are wreaking havoc on this delicate system. Another dangerous ingredient is triclosan. Studies show that triclosan “may inadvertently drive bacteria into a state in which they are able to tolerate normally lethal concentrations of antibiotics—including those antibiotics that are commonly used to treat UTIs.” We want to be clean, but we don’t want to be sterile.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
Dr. Sands says, “A lot of people are sensitive or allergic to SLS. It is a common additive in toothpaste, soap, etc.” We’ve touched on this ingredient as one to avoid in body wash, so it’s wild to realize we are also putting it directly inside our bodies through our mouths, and inadvertently ingesting some of it. Dr. Sands points out that many of us are sensitive to it, and SLS can cause contact dermatitis and breakouts. Luckily, there are many options available that are SLS-free.
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
PEGs are usually listed following a number, like 6, 8, or 12, which represents the molecular weight—and the smaller the number, the more easily absorbed into our vulnerable bloodstream through the mouth. Polyethylene is the most common form of plastic, and when paired with glycol, it becomes a sticky liquid that stabilizes the toothpaste formula, meaning it keeps it from drying out. It can contribute to dangerous levels of dioxin, which is linked to cancer and disorders of the nervous system, and accumulates in the body for prolonged toxicity. Not very fresh.
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