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5 Sneaky Ingredients to Avoid in your Oral Health Products

While we would love to believe all toothpaste and mouthwash are created equally safe and effective, the truth is far from it.

Sometimes store-bought brands do seem to work, at least upfront. But they lead to issues down the road (issues like gingivitis and weakened teeth). So, not only are they dangerous, they’re not as effective for oral hygiene as they claim to be. It’s a common problem. 

Most store-bought tubes of toothpaste contribute to cavities, gum disease, and poor overall oral health.

And it’s not just toothpaste. Harmful ingredients are tossed into the other products on the shelf too. These chemical concoctions are dangerous, and they are everywhere. It can be frustrating to sift through the cocktails of poorly formulated products. We want to help ease that process. To reveal some of the nasty details about which chemicals are doing the most damage. 

So, below are 5 sneaky ingredients to avoid in your oral health products with some (un)honorable mentions.

Plastic Beads

Microbeads are used in toothpaste as an abrasive agent to help scrub the teeth. These small abrasive pieces strip the teeth of their natural protection. And if swallowed, because sometimes we can’t help but swallow just a little bit of toothpaste, right? It’s tough not to at some point. Well, it’s causing a serious hazard. 

As if scrubbing our mouths with plastic isn’t harmful enough, every plastic we ingest is chemically attached to other harmful substances. Substances our bodies are not meant to ingest.

When plastics are made, they have other chemicals attached to them to change their performance. Color, additives, and fillers are intentionally implemented. Each of these ingredients becomes chemically bound to the plastic while the plastic is being made.

The crazy part is that, if even the tamest of claims is true, people ingest a debit card worth of plastic per week. It’s time to cut those unhealthy habits and skip out on the plastics for a more natural and effective alternative substance to put in our mouths.

For kids, if it’s an artificial color attached to the plastic, that leads to health and behavioral issues. We’ll explain why in the honorable mentions section below.

Fluoride 

Studies have suggested some tremendous things about fluoride. That it protects our teeth from gingivitis and tooth decay. However, fluoride is also considered a neurotoxin.

What does that mean? Like with exposure to heavy metals, higher levels of fluoride exposure reduces intelligence.

That’s dangerous. So, especially for our children, we should consider how often our families are exposed to any given chemical. Even if only a small amount of fluoride is in toothpaste, any harm from chemicals is too much harm. Especially during the developmental phases which children are constantly going through. And there are better options to brush with (such as hydroxyapatite) which naturally whiten, promote growth, and protect teeth. No reduced intelligence is involved.

Besides, fluoride concentrations are already found within our drinking water. We don’t need it as part of our toothpaste ingredients too.

Why are children at more risk than adults for toxicity from fluoride? Adults have fully developed their blood-brain barriers (BBB). The BBB helps us filter out things that alter the state of our brains. Therefore, an adult might handle filtering some toxicity from fluoride (but why risk it when there are more effective, healthier options). A child, on the other hand, does not possess a fully formed BBB. It is still developing. The amount of toxicity they can filter away to protect their brains is much smaller. So neurotoxins through compounds like fluoride should be avoided.

Parabens 

These are widespread toxins finding their way into everything. They’re very inexpensive for industries to use, work as a preservative, and have shown antimicrobial properties. At first glance, that seems fine, but this chemical is toxic. Using it comes with a huge cost. Studies suggest parabens promote the growth of breast cancer cells.

They also mimic estrogenic compounds. Too much exposure to them altered sexual behavior in female rats, as shown in a study done back in 2017. Parabens disrupt hormones and might affect birth. A 2019 study showed girls born with paraben exposure weighed significantly less than girls who were not exposed. To say the least, it isn’t something we want in our mouths or our bodies. Since it has been detected in nearly all Americans, it’s important to go ahead and start avoiding it. But we also need to be careful when choosing an alternative. We can help with that. At least for some products.

Along with toothpaste, parabens are also found in shampoos, deodorants, lotions, makeup, and even sunscreen.

Triclosan

Triclosan is a germ killer. That’s why it was put into toothpaste, to kill bacteria. But the antibacterial substance comes with a host of issues. A study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism revealed a connection between it and osteoporosis in women. Another study showed that it negatively affected immune systems for those under the age of 18 (meaning our kids). It increased the chance of things like eczema, allergies, and other inflammatory issues.

In terms of oral care, this chemical can be found in toothpaste and is often absorbed by the mouth into the body. It can damage the reproduction hormone and endocrine system, and for pregnant mothers, there is some very upsetting news. Triclosan does pass to your unborn child. It is horrible for dental care.

Aspartame

This artificial sweetener is found in thousands of products throughout the US. Although it is one of the more controversial substances, it is still very frequently used. Studies have linked aspartame consumption to issues such as headaches, poor memory, and depression.

A 2014 study revealed that higher intakes increased depressive levels and mood swings. Lower intakes, however, were still very much linked to a negative effect on cognition.

Besides poor memory, aspartame has been linked to seizures, multiple sclerosis, tumors, and diabetes. It is something we should avoid in our oral health products and our food.

(un)Honorable mentions

Propylene glycol is another substance that is linked to causing seizures. It is a vehicle for the delivery of many substances but has adverse effects on our health. This antifreeze breaks down and processes as formaldehyde in our bodies, which is a harmful chemical that can be fatal, cause respiratory issues and inflammatory responses on the skin. 

Propylene glycol has also been linked to central nervous system problems and comas. It is especially dangerous for infants.

Although most artificial colors have been banned, a few remain widely used. Studies have linked them to cancer and behavioral issues, especially in kids. They cause hyperactivity, allergies, and even impair learning.

A Safe Alternative for Oral Health

We want the very best for our children. We want effective personal care products but don’t want to risk the safety of those we love most. We don’t want these wild chemicals running amuck and steering the health of our kids in a poor direction. The only remaining issue is finding alternatives.

At least for toothpaste, that isn’t true. If you’ve made it here, we have an effective and safe option.

Our Whitening Toothpaste contains an all-natural ingredient list, safe for the entire family (even pregnant mothers). It contains hydroxyapatite (the most stable form of calcium phosphate), green tea, xylitol, and neem oil. That combination is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, loaded with antioxidants, naturally whitens and strengthens teeth with the exact mineral they’re made of, and combats both tooth decay and gum disease.

We’ve worked hard to make this a family safe and planet safe alternative for those who were like us…tired of sabotaging our oral microbiomes. 

RESOURCES

1. Campanale, C., Massarelli, C., Savino, I., Locaputo, V., & Uricchio, V. F. (2020). A Detailed Review Study on Potential Effects of Microplastics and Additives of Concern on Human Health. International journal of environmental research and public health17(4), 1212. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17041212

2. Grandjean, P. Developmental fluoride neurotoxicity: an updated review. Environ Health 18, 110 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12940-019-0551-x

3. Wells, Katie. (2020, May 17). 10 Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Personal Care Products: Wellness Mama. Retrieved December 18, 2020, from https://wellnessmama.com/426233/toxic-ingredients/

 4. Chang, C., Wang, P., Liang, H., Huang, H., Huang, L., ChangChen, H., Pan, W., HanLin, M., Yang, W., FangMao, I., & LienChen, M. (2019). The sex-specific association between maternal paraben exposure and size at birth. 222(6), 955-964. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijheh.2019.06.004

5. Barr, L., Metaxas, G., Harbach, C., Savoy, L., & Darbre, P. (2012). Measurement of paraben concentrations in human breast tissue at serial locations across the breast from axilla to sternum. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jat.1786

6. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 104, Issue 10, October 2019, Pages 4531–4538, https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2019-00576

7. Clayton EM, Todd M, Dowd JB, Aiello AE. The impact of bisphenol A and triclosan on immune parameters in the U.S. population, NHANES 2003-2006. Environ Health Perspect. 2011 Mar;119(3):390-6. DOI: 10.1289/EHP.1002883. Epub 2010 Nov 29. PMID: 21062687; PMCID: PMC3060004.

8. Lindseth, G. N., Coolahan, S. E., Petros, T. V., & Lindseth, P. D. (2014). Neurobehavioral effects of aspartame consumption. Research in nursing & health37(3), 185–193. https://doi.org/10.1002/nur.21595

9. Lim, T. Y., Poole, R. L., & Pageler, N. M. (2014). Propylene glycol toxicity in children. The journal of pediatric pharmacology and therapeutics : JPPT: the official journal of PPAG, 19(4), 277–282. https://doi.org/10.5863/1551-6776-19.4.277

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