Many self-care and home-care products offer anything but “care” for your health. On the contrary, they’re one of most insidious toxin sources in our society. One of the worst culprits is toothpaste.
If would be nice to be able to trust in the inherent goodness of product manufacturers—to believe that they wouldn’t sell us something that’s blatantly harmful.
Sadly, though, this just isn’t the way the world works. More often than not, companies will simply include whatever ingredients get the job done for the cheapest manufacturing cost, even if it means turning a blind eye to the adverse health effects caused by their products.
In some ways, manufacturing practices are improving (or at least companies are being forced to do so). Just recently, the Chemical Safety Act for the 21st Century was signed into law. This improvement upon the Toxic Substance Control Act will ensure more stringent regulation of the toxic chemicals used across many industries, so it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
The Chemical Safety Act only pertains to EPA-regulated chemicals and products, though—which means that all cosmetics are excluded.
This is very bad news, given the vast array of poisons found in conventional self-care products. We’ve talked some of them in previous articles: antibacterial soaps, lotions, “microbead” shampoos and conditioners, sunscreens, and more. Toothpaste poses many of the same risks.
Many toothpaste brands contain harmful ingredients like fluoride, carrageenan, artificial surfactants, detergents, and foaming agents, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, PEG’s and propylene glycol, triclosan, toxic industrial byproducts, and GMO ingredients.
More harm than good
A consumer advocacy and organic watchdog group called The Cornucopia Institute investigated leading toothpaste brands—and what they found wasn’t pretty. Their comprehensive “Toothpaste Scorecard” was used to rate a wide array of products according to the presence of non-organic ingredients, fluoride, carrageenan, artificial surfactants, detergents, and foaming agents, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, PEG’s and propylene glycol, triclosan, toxic industrial byproducts, and GMO ingredients.
The Institute’s report shows that mass-market brands, like Colgate and Crest, contain all of these toxic substances, which are known allergens, irritants, inflammatory agents, endocrine disruptors, and carcinogens.
These popular products even contain artificial preservatives like sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate, as well as surfactants like sodium laurel sulfate, which has been linked to developmental issues in children, organ toxicity, neurotoxicity, cellular mutation, and cancer.
And that’s just counting the ingredients that are listed on the label. Jerome Rigot, a policy analyst at The Cornucopia Institute, reports that “the FDA does not require impurities, including several potential contaminants such as 1,4-dioxane or ethylene oxide, both carcinogens, to be listed as ingredients on the labels of personal care products because these toxic chemicals are produced during manufacturing.”
Toxic byproducts in toothpaste can be easily removed with the proper procedures, but companies skip the costly process of doing so.
These toxic byproducts can be easily removed with the proper procedures, but companies skip the costly process of doing so, simply because regulation doesn’t require it. Similarly, they know very well how to make better, safer toothpaste formulas—because they already do so for European markets, which have banned 1,300 different ingredients and restricted another 250. The FDA has restricted or banned only 11 ingredients.
Lastly, no discussion of toothpaste toxins would be complete without mentioning fluoride, a deplorable chemical that regulatory bodies in the United States still don’t even consider a toxin, despite a mountain of incriminating evidence—and despite the fact that fluoride is banned in nearly a dozen countries around the world (including China, which is really saying something).
Needless to say, the harmfulness of these ingredients far outweighs any oral health “benefits” that toothpaste provides.
Don’t think “natural” toothpastes are any better
It’s tempting to believe that “natural” toothpaste brands are immune from the troubles of conventional brands. Surely they were created for the purpose of providing non-toxic alternatives…right?
Apparently not. The Cornucopia Institute discovered that the only thing that sets most natural brands apart is their higher price tag. Tom’s of Maine, Desert Essence, Jason, Kiss My Face, and other upscale, “healthy” brands all contain their fair share of toxins, including carrageenan (a thickening agent that can cause diabetes, intestinal inflammation, and cancer), pesticide residues (especially when the herbal ingredients aren’t certified organic), and even sodium laurel sulfate.
So don’t let the natural and organic marketing propaganda distract you from determining that a product is truly safe for use. Jerome Rigot reminds us that “the cosmetics industry is no different, and may be worse, than leading food companies when it comes to gimmicky ingredients and misleading health claims.”
So which toothpaste is best?
Luckily, the Cornucopia Institute also identified which toothpaste brands live up to their health claims. Here’s their top 5 picks…
- Bronner’s All-One Toothpaste
- Green People Toothpaste
- Poofy Organics Happy Teeth Organic Toothpaste
- Miessence Toothpaste
- Made Simple Skincare Mint Sweet Orange Toothpaste
These exceptional products contain none of the chemicals listed above. Instead, they implement certified organic coconut oil, essential oils, and healing clays. These natural substances work just as well (or better) at preventing tooth decay, keeping gums healthy, and whitening teeth—coconut oil has even been shown to accomplish all these feats on its own, and the addition of other oils and clays only boosts its efficacy.
Choosing a safe, natural brand of toothpaste is a win-win—your teeth will receive superior care, and your body will be protected from the short and long-term side effects of the other, chemical-laden varieties.