There are many natural and organic toothpastes on the market each offering unique selling points. The wide range means that there is one to fit the needs of most people! Feeling a bit overwhelmed trying to find one right for you? Well you have come to the right place. Here is out guide to natural and organic toothpastes.
How important is it to use toothpaste?
Brushing your teeth goes beyond simply cosmetic appearances. Brushing your teeth keeps your mouth healthy and clean and helps prevent long term tooth decay and gum disease by removing plaque and preventing it from building up. It also benefits your long and short term overall health and quality of life. It is recommended to brush with toothpaste twice a day for 2 minutes.
Common toxins in toothpaste
Flouride, triclosan, sodium laureth sulfate, parabens, synthetic flavours and cosmetic colourants are the main concerning toxic ingredients in mainstream toothpastes that should be avoided. Natural and organic toothpaste alternatives are free from these ingredients.
Sodium fluoride is the most common fluoride ingredient added to toothpaste although sodium monofluorophosphate, while milder, also shows up a fair bit. Sodium Fluoride has been noted for organ system toxicity, musculoskeletal toxicity and developmental toxicity. Musculoskeletal toxicity is noted due to the impact fluoride in your body has on the skeletal system. The impact is known as fluorosis and occurs when fluoride ends up replacing calcium in bones and teeth. In severe cases this can cause significant damage to your bones. With the introduction of fluoride to drinking water and in many oral care products, fluorosis has become exceedingly common. While most cases are mild, studies show approximately 40% of Americans have fluorosis. Various other studies show similar rates across Australia.
The biggest concern with fluoride is when children ingest it. Not only are children at the greatest risk of developing fluorosis as their bones grow but there are also developmental concerns associated with fluoride. Young children should not use a fluoride toothpaste and you should be particularly vigilant about what ingredients are in the toothpaste they are using as kids end up swallowing and even eating a lot of their toothpaste. We also recommend avoiding when pregnant or nursing for the same reasons.
There is a lot of debate over using fluoride in toothpaste. If you have particularly bad teeth as an adult, while we would not recommend it, you can get away with a little bit of fluoride in your toothpaste if you are careful not to swallow any. Methods of getting fluoride to your teeth that does not involve direct application (such as in drinking water, food or supplements) can do more harm and good as they are absorbed and travel through your body and should be avoided!
Triclosan has been used in toothpaste as an antibacterial agent and preservative. It has been found to be highly hazardous (EWG score 7) and causes hormonal disruption, is noted for organ system toxicity and is bio-accumulative/persistent (builds up easy). Canada and Japan have restrictions on the use of triclosan. Triclosan has also been found to have contamination concerns for highly hazardous chemicals. These are chloroform (EWG score 10) and dioxins (EWG score 10) which on top of many other toxicity concerns are known human carcinogens.
♦Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS)
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) is the main foaming agent used in most toothpastes. It has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation and hormone disruption. Contributing to this is its highly hazardous contaminants Ethelene Oxide (EWG score 10) and 1,4-DIOXANE (EWG score 8), which are added during the Ethoxylation process used to make SLS. It is widely used as a skin irritant when testing products used to heal skin conditions.
Parabens are a group of synthetic preservatives that have moderate to high toxicity concerns. The biggest issue with parabens as a group is that they are known hormone disruptors. Depending on which parabens were used they can also have significant other toxic properties.
Seeing Flavour listed on the ingredients list for your toothpaste may seem innocent but what does it really mean? Manufacturers use this term to cover a broad range of substances or mixtures of substances they have added to enhance or mask the flavour of a product. The issue is you really don’t know what is in it because the ingredients are not fully labelled. There is a high chance that the ingredients covered under ‘flavour’ are harmful synthetic flavourings.
While not all Cosmetic colourants (listed by CI Codes) are toxic most have significant toxicity concerns. Toxicity concerns range from being irritants and allergens to having organ system toxicity concerns to being potential carcinogens. Because there are so many different CI codes it can be hard to differentiate them at a glance so it is best to avoid them at all where possible. They also may be listed without their code but by another name (eg. Red 27, Yellow 3) so look out for that too. Names will be Red, Blue, Yellow, Violet or Black followed by a number or metals such as iron oxides, aluminium powder, titanium dioxide, bismuth oxychloride etc...
So how do natural and organic toothpaste brands work?
Toothpaste works by getting rid of all the nasties from your teeth right? Well that is part of it. As well as cleaning and getting rid of plaque your toothpaste should also be responsible for making sure your teeth are remineralised and any damage/demineralisation of your tooth enamel that happened over the day is taken care of. This means that calcium and phosphate ions that have been worn away by acids in your mouth from food are redeposited upon brushing. Natural and organic alternatives still work to remineralise your teeth and contain the needed minerals in one form or another.
Where natural and organic alternatives fall short of mainstream brands is that they lack fluoride. As well as remineralising your teeth alongside calcium, fluoride works to protect teeth from demineralisation. There is a lot of debate over the use of fluoride however as we have discussed above. We know it is very effective for oral care but at the same time there are various genuine significant toxicity concerns that have become more and more apparent. Due to these toxicity concerns natural and organic toothpaste alternatives opt to not include fluoride in their formulas.
The lack of sodium laureth sulfate also means that most natural and organic toothpastes are non-foaming so they feel a bit different to brush with.
Recommendations and Quick Find Guide
We reviewed a lot of brands in details in another blog. The list below is to help you narrow things down so you can check out the ones you are most interested in first.
♥ If you are looking for certified organic why not consider:
♥ Want vegan friendly options? We have these ones:
auromere herbal toothpaste |75ml
♥To Support Australian Made consider these:
♥For a sparkly Whiter Smile, have a look at:
Other toothpastes that contain bicarb or xylitol or charcoal may also help remove stains.
To find out more check out our blog on Natural Teeth Whitening.
♥For Sensitive Teeth, see our:
♥Got Super Sensitive Teeth? Check out these:
♥Interested in Calcium Free? We have:
If you are interested in our review of individual brands, please click here.