When you brush your teeth you inevitably swallow or absorb a little bit of toothpaste.
If it contains toxic chemicals, as most commercial toothpastes do, then you’re basically swallowing those toxic chemicals at least two times every single day.
Solution: switch to natural toothpaste.
Watch out for triclosan*—a synthetic pesticide that’s added to commercial toothpastes. Likely put in there for it’s antimicrobial properties, it’s believed to interfere with normal thyroid functioning, and it’s classified as potentially toxic, harmful, an irritant and environmentally toxic. It’s been banned in Canada and Japan. It’s absolutely baffling why it’s allowed in our American toothpastes (Colgate), but it is—and we have to educate ourselves to find alternatives.
Toxic chemical exposure is the biggest reason to switch to natural toothpaste. The other is that most commercial toothpastes use artificial sweeteners. I strongly believe that we shouldn’t put anything artificial in our bodies ever, toothpaste included.
There’s a bit of an adjustment period when you switch to natural toothpaste.
In the beginning it might not seem as crazy minty-fresh as your old stuff. Natural simply tastes different. But, try your old toothpaste after a month or two and you’ll be surprised out how sickeningly sweet and fake it now tastes.
Of course, not all natural toothpastes are equal. I feel like I’ve tried them all in search of one that tastes good, leaves a fresh aftertaste and gets foamy. Two winners stand out, and I’ve been unimpressed with most others.
Winner: Desert Essence Natural Tea Tree Oil & Neem Toothpaste, Fennel
It tastes great, leaves a fresh feeling, has a great texture and gets foamy. It contains neem, which has been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years to keep a clean mouth. I’ve tried the Wintergreen flavor and determined that Fennel tastes way better.
Runner Up: Kiss My Face Triple Action Natural Aloe Vera Toothpaste
This also tastes great, leaves a fresh feeling, has a great texture and gets foamy. I like it just as much as the Desert Essence toothpaste, except that it’s more expensive.
Not so Fresh: Tom’s of Maine Toothpastes
I’ve tried many from this line. Tom’s of Maine is everywhere—often the only natural choice in regular grocery stores. Although they’re mostly natural, they also taste like natural toothpastes. No foaming action, no minty fresh aftertaste and no overall clean feeling.
Also Not So Fresh: Nature’s Gate Creme de Peppermint Natural Toothpaste
Another one that doesn’t leave a fresh feeling. Isn’t that what toothpaste is for?
Not Good Enough: Trader Joe’s All Natural Anti-Cavity Peppermint Toothpaste
I love Trader Joe’s, and love that they bring more natural products to us at an affordable price. However, I don’t love their toothpaste. It might only cost $1.99, but it doesn’t make my mouth feel clean.
Natural Faker: Dabur Meswak Toothpaste
Dabur Meswak comes from India. It’s not as easy to find in the US as the others, although it is sold in some natural food stores. I’ve bought it only because it was the most natural-seeming toothpaste I could find while traveling in India, but in fact it’s not so natural at all. It contains formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) and sodium silicate (there’s strong evidence that this is a human irritant). Please avoid.
If you need more motivation to go natural, check out the toxic chemicals in your commercial toothpaste on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database.
*EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. “Triclosan.” http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706623/TRICLOSAN/(accessed January 2014).
**U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “Triclosan Facts.” www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/REDs/factsheets/triclosan_fs.htm (accessed January 2014).
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Amanda Fleming Taylor / Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Adrian Chenary/Pixoto