Natural Toothpaste Windham ME
Natural Beauty - Brushing Up on Natural Toothpastes
By Leslie Crawford
When it comes to choosing toothpaste, I confess to running long on assumptions and short on proof. As a child I cut my teeth on Colgate, and I stayed loyal to the brand into my 20s. But eventually I switched my allegiance to the most popular “natural” paste. My logic, I assumed, was infallible: Natural is always better. But is it?
Not necessarily. On a recent fact-finding trip to my local health-food store, I studied toothpaste labels with the stern diligence I normally reserve for packaged foods, on the lookout for objectionable ingredients. To their credit, the majority of self-billed natural toothpastes are free of many of the potentially harmful additives found in mainstream brands, including artificial dyes and sweeteners, the antifreeze propylene glycol, the carcinogen titanium dioxide, something called PEG-8, which has been linked to breast cancer, and the glitter that’s added to give products sparkle appeal.
However, I was disappointed to see that many natural brands do contain two ingredients I have reason to be suspicious of: fluoride and the foaming agent sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). Fluoride, of course, is credited with revolutionizing oral care by hardening enamel and significantly helping to prevent tooth decay; most dentists still only recommend pastes that contain it.
Yet some alternative-minded activists have been lobbying for years to stop the addition of fluoride to tap water, and advise steering clear of it in toothpaste. They say the chemical can cause dental fluorosis, a condition manifested by staining and pitting, that makes teeth more prone to fractures. More alarming, studies have linked excess fluoride to weakened cartilage, bones, and muscles. And as the warning makes clear on any paste with fluoride, if ingested in excess, it is considered poisonous.
As for SLS, it’s a commonly used chemical found in everything from shampoo to laundry detergent. Described on many ingredient lists as a coconut oil derivative, SLS sounds natural and harmless enough until you learn that it’s actually an industrial-strength soap.
“SLS is a very harsh substance,” says David Kennedy, author of How to Save Your Teeth and former president of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology. “It’s definitely not a good idea to use it on your mucous membranes.”
While the jury is out on the specific dangers of SLS itself, scientists do know that it helps other chemicals get past your body’s protective barriers. “SLS is what’s known as a penetration enhancer,” says Tim Kropp, senior scientist for the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group. “This means it increases penetration of other suspect chemicals in toothpaste, such as saccharin and titanium dioxide, into the body.”
I’m crestfallen to discover that when it comes to these two ingredients, my toothpaste—and my son’s favorite natural strawberry-flavored paste—are but a stone’s throw from their more mainstream commercial cousins. “The word ...
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