Toothpaste. We all use it every day, but do you actually know what ingredients you're putting into your body? Aside from being packaged in plastic tubes (yuck), your toothpaste may contain a whole lot of chemicals and additives that you didn't even know about...
1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a detergent which gives toothpaste its foaming properties. Unfortunately, SLS is a known irritant that can cause ulcers and canker sores - plus, it's bad news for anyone who brushes their teeth in the shower. When heated, SLS emits toxic fumes including Sodium Oxides and Sulfur Oxides. Yikes!
2. Artificial Flavours and Sweeteners
A few different sweeteners are used in conventional toothpastes and they each have some pretty bad side effects. Sorbitol (a liquid that keeps toothpaste from drying out) is a laxative that can cause diarrhoea in children. Saccharin has been linked to bladder cancer and brain tumours, and along with Aspartame, has been added to the list of additives to avoid by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest.
The Australian Department of Health has warned that using a number of products containing Triclosan, such as medicated soaps, antibacterial hand washes and toothpaste, could be a risk to our health over time. Triclosan is a chemical ingredient used as an antibacterial and anti-fungal agent and has only been around since the 1960's - yet it's already been banned for use in skin care in the U.S. Even St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney stopped using products containing the chemical over 5 years ago!
Emerging evidence from Dr. Gerard Judd, Ph. D, suggests that glycerin has negative effects in the realm of oral health. He states, “Glycerin in all toothpastes is so sticky that it takes 27 washes to get if off. Teeth brushed with any toothpaste are coated with a film and cannot properly remineralise."
The jury is still out on fluoride - some think it's an essential part of our oral care routine, while others think it's a poison (I encourage you to go and do your own research to determine what side of the fence you're on). Either way, too much fluoride can cause a condition known as fluorosis that discolours or spots tooth enamel. With 89% of Australians having access to fluoridated drinking water, brushing your teeth with tap water gives you all the fluoride you need!
Why you should make the switch
Now you might be wondering, "What does it matter? I spit the toothpaste out anyway." Well, there's a couple of reasons why you should consider a natural alternative:
1. Every time you brush your teeth, a tiny bit of toothpaste is ingested. And if you brush your teeth twice a day, every day (which you should), those tiny bits can start to add up and result in some pretty nasty side effects. Even if they're not life threatening, they can still be painful... if you suffer from tooth sensitivity, you'll know what I mean!
2. When we spit out the rest, it goes straight into our waterways. If I can reduce the amount of chemicals and additives going down my drain, then I will! If everyone made just one small change to their daily routine, we could make a huge difference to the amount of nasty chemicals in our environment. And to me, that's reason enough!