By: Debra Lynn Dadd
Toothpaste and mouthwash have much in common. Both are intended to fight cavities and gum disease, both made from pretty much the same ingredients and both contain toxic substances you might not want to put in your mouth.
Whenever you put any toxic substance into your mouth there are two ways it can get into your body. Certainly you (or your children) might swallow it. But even if you don’t swallow it, the membranes in your mouth are very permeable, and toxic substances can easily pass right into your bloodstream and move quickly to every part of your body.
Look at the ingredients list on any major brand of toothpaste and mouthwash and you’ll find pretty much the same ingredients. The purpose of both is to kill germs to freshen breath, and reduce tooth decay and gum disease.
The major ingredient of concern in toothpaste is fluoride. Yes it is added to toothpaste to “fight cavities,” but it is also so toxic that it requires a warning label on the toothpaste tube:
WARNING: Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more toothpaste than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison-control center immediately.
Fluoride toothpastes and mouthwashes are often given to children as added protection against tooth decay. While there is no question that the optimal dose of fluoride can help prevent cavities, there is a possible danger here that with the combination of fluoride in mouthwash, toothpaste, tap water, and other sources that children might be getting too much fluoride, causing mottling of the teeth and many other ills. In addition to the acute danger of fluoride poisoning, long-term low-dose exposure to fluoride has been associated with bone disorders, thyroid disease, low intelligence, dementia, diabetes, and other common ills.
The major ingredient of concern in mouthwash is alcohol, which requires a warning label on the bottle:
WARNING: Do not administer to children under 12 years of age. KEEP THIS AND ALL DRUGS OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN. This product contains alcohol. Do not swallow. In case of accidental overdose, seek professional assistance or contact a poison-control center immediately.
This is a petrochemical version of the same ethyl alcohol you drink in alcoholic beverages, and can affect the central nervous system and cause nausea and drowsiness. Mouthwash is one of those everyday products that we assume to be safe, yet it is especially hazardous to children. It is often left out where children can reach it, and it has an appealing color and taste. A child could easily drink enough to cause harm.
There are other toxic ingredients in toothpaste and mouthwash, but these are the key ingredients to look for. Any of these in a product would be reason enough to not use it.
But just so you know…both toothpastes and mouthwashes contain the same artificial colors, artificial flavors and preservatives found in processed foods. So if you are eating organic, you’ll want to remove exposure to these additives from your toothpaste and mouthwash as well.
And then there are the sweeteners. Toothpastes and mouthwashes are commonly sweetened with the sugar alcohols xylitol and sorbitol, sucralose and sodium saccharin. These are commonly considered to be safe, but they are all manufactured substances with questionable safety.
The toothpaste ingredient that really makes me cringe is plastic microbeads. Apparently Crest and other brands of toothpaste actually put bits of plastic in the toothpaste, which have been found to embed themselves in the gums of those who use it. The plastic is polyethylene, which is not toxic, bit it isn’t biodegradable. So once it’s stuck in your gums, I’m not sure how it gets out. And wouldn’t it just build up over time? Fortunately we can see these beads and choose to avoid them, and they are listed among the ingredients as “polyethylene.”
Fortunately there are natural dental care products available that clean your teeth and gums and give you a bright smile and fresh breath without the harmful chemicals.
Debra Lynn Dadd has more than thirty years experience finding consumer products that are free from toxic chemicals. She has been a leading consumer advocate since 1984, when she wrote the first book on toxic chemicals in consumer products and safer alternatives. Since, Debra has become the most prolific writer on the subject, with seven more published books and the largest website on toxic free living on the internet. Browse 100s of links to 1000s of safer products, 1000s of Q&A, delicious organic recipes, more than 400 interviews with leaders in the field, and much more. www.debralynndadd.com
We really enjoyed working with Debra Lynn Dadd on this guest blog post, and love her site as a non-toxic resource. If you’re looking for a truly clean and effective alternative to standard oral care products, brush with our Organic non-GMO Brushing Rinse!