By: Jessica Davis-Thompson
The oral hygiene market is a rapidly evolving one, and many progressive companies have found healthy alternatives to some of the dangerous ingredients found in mainstream oral care products. Harmful ingredients such as triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate, aspartame, fluoride, propylene glycol, diethanolamine, and plastic microbeads have been replaced by ingredients like hydrogen peroxide, essential oils, herbs, and coconut oil. One of the more popular ingredients is bentonite clay, also known as montmorillonite clay.
Bentonite clay is a naturally occurring element, harvested from volcanic deposits, that is rich in minerals from the earth. Often, it’s used externally in face masks to help cleanse pores and in hair masks to help remove excess hair build up. It is also taken internally to help detox the body, as it’s negatively charged molecules are said to effectively bind to positively charged molecules of heavy minerals, and draw them out of the gut. However, because bentonite clay comes from the earth and has been exposed to soil contaminants, it has been found to have elevated levels of heavy minerals in it, especially lead. Exposure to lead, even in a small amount, can cause serious damage to the central nervous system, kidneys, and immune system. In children, chronic exposure to lead, even at low levels, is associated with cognitive impairment, reduced IQ, behavioral difficulties, and other problems. Once absorbed into the body, lead may be stored for long periods in mineralizing tissue, like teeth and bones, and the stored lead may be released again into the bloodstream.
On March 23, 2016, the FDA issued a consumer warning about the high levels of lead in a bentonite clay product, and urged anyone who used the product to see a medical professional immediately. While companies using bentonite clay have issued statements that their products are safe to use, there has been substantial controversy over how much lead is safe, and whether or not the type of lead used is bioavailable enough to be absorbed through the skin. Here’s what studies have been saying time and time again: even the smallest amount of lead exposure can cause significant damage, and even the smallest amount of lead exposure can be stored in the body for long periods of time. Are you willing to take that risk? Why not use a toothpaste without any of those concerns? Food grade hydrogen peroxide and essential oils are more than enough to keep your mouth clean, healthy, and worry free!