Natural Toothpaste: Does it work?
As children we were all taught to brush twice a day, with a fluoride toothpaste, for two minutes to maintain good oral health weren’t we? We definitely were. We’ve all had it drummed into us that toothpaste fights bacteria, allowing us to maintain good gum health and those pearly whites we’re oh so proud of.
What we weren’t told is that our gums absorb chemicals as well as nutrients. These chemicals then spread throughout the rest of our body. Logical when we think about it. So brushing with a chemical laden toothpaste is the same as applying skincare or makeup with a chemical base.
So, what’s wrong with conventional toothpaste?
We’re not denying that conventional toothpaste provides numerous benefits for your teeth and gums. Today toothpastes are really effective, something that took years to achieve. Why are they so effective? Because of the active chemicals they contain. And whilst helpful to your oral health now, it is important to consider that these chemicals and formulations care concerning and potentially damaging to both your oral and wider health in the future.
Let’s look at the ingredients in conventional toothpaste that have controversy surrounding them.
This is the most common ingredient in all conventional toothpastes. It helps prevent cavaties and tooth decay, but is also linked with malformation of bones and at a cosmetic level, fluorosis of the teeth.
Consistent use of fluoride is also linked with digestive issues, kidney problems and even acne. Interestingly, more and more brands are now removing fluoride from their toothpaste formulations.
One of the other most common ingredients found in conventional toothpaste. Glycerin is used to maintain the paste like formula of toothpaste, but it also prevents your teeth from re-mineralising by coating them. Yellowing of the teeth is largely caused by glycerine.
A less common ingredient but sometimes found in conventional toothpaste. Triclosan is an antibacterial compound used in soaps, toothpastes and cleaning products. It is also an endocrine disruptor that slows down blood circulation and weakens the immune system.
It also has negative environmental effects. When Triclosan enters our waterways it is converted into dioxin - a highly toxic compound, when exposed the sunlight in an aqueous environment. Triclosan has been found to be highly toxic to different types of algae, keystone organisms for complex aquatic ecosystems, and as been detected at high concentration in earthworms.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
This is the ingredient that gives conventional toothpaste its foam and lather. If you’ve ever tried a natural toothpaste you’ll note that it doesn’t lather in the same way as a conventional one.
Despite its association with a better clean this is a bit of a myth. Research shows it is actually a cause of mouth ulcers and adds no value to your clean.
Propylene glycol is a type of mineral oil that, in the industrial grade, is used in antifreeze, paints, enamels, and airplane de-icers. It is also used in toothpaste as a surfactant. A surfactant is a chemical that gives water the ability to dissolve oil, grease and dirt. Not what you want to be swallowing on a daily basis.
But will natural toothpaste options keep our teeth and gums healthy?
In short, yes!
Increasing numbers of dentists and dental experts are saying that it is the brushing action that is most important. Dr. Marc Lowenberg of New York City's Lowenberg, Lituchy spoke to Instyle on the topic and said "The first and most important thing is that, if you're brushing your teeth properly and removing all of the plaque, the type of toothpaste you use shouldn't matter. Toothpaste does nothing to prevent gum disease and cavities because what actually causes that is the conglomeration of bacteria that sits on your teeth, known as plaque.”
So why does my mouth feel cleaner when I use Colgate over a natural brand we hear you ask? Because the majority of us have grown up using conventional toothpaste that foams and leaves a ‘zing’ in our mouth. It is all psychological. Switching to natural toothpaste is just a habit change. That is definitely something that shouldn’t be played down. It took me a good few months to get used to using natural toothpaste and I was tempted many a time to go back to conventional brands. But, I can honestly say, 2 years on and my mouth feels as clean as always and I no longer miss the foam.
We'd urge you to give it a go.
Shop our natural toothpaste here.
Or, have a go at making your own. Take a look at our recipe here.