A huge part of my going green journey so far has been about swapping some everyday essential items to more natural, greener versions; something which takes little time or effort, but could ultimately be more beneficial for the planet and my health.
Toothpaste in particular is something I have been experimenting with over the last couple of months, trying to find something that is natural, ethical and – more importantly – actually works!
So why is natural toothpaste better?
Well, just in the same way you would look for the most natural, toxin free food to put into your body; avoiding nasty chemicals in toothpaste means you are being more conscious about your health, and the environmental impact of the ingredients used. The mucous membranes in our mouths are actually highly permeable, and chemicals included in toothpaste can pass directly into the blood stream and build up toxin levels in the body. Gross!!
Most big brands of toothpaste use some, or all, of the following:
- Artificial sweeteners
- Colouring agents
- Artificial flavours
- Water softeners
- Acrylic polymers
- tetrasodium pyrophosphate
- Sodium carbonate peroxide (to whiten teeth)
- Various gums to thicken the paste
But more scarily, another ingredient which keeps popping up as a dangerous toxin is fluoride; which has been linked to issues with gastrointestinal, fertility and even some cancers! The Fluoride Alert Network is seeking to raise awareness of the dangers of this chemical, and in 2011 released The Fluoride Deception below:
But surely Fluoride’s presence in toothpaste can’t be that bad, if it’s allowed into something which goes into our mouths every day? And in fact, a huge reason fluoride is used in toothpaste is down to its proven ability to strengthen our teeth, so in theory it should actually be good for us? Well, the issue seems to be in the amount of fluoride we ingest; as it’s not just in our toothpaste, but in the water we drink too. And if we want healthy bodies and planet, we need to reduce the amount of chemicals we put into our bodies anyway!
The first natural toothpaste I road tested was the widely available Kingfisher brand; which is just as affordable as regular toothpaste, and boasts some good credentials. It’s received approval from the British Dental Health Foundation, awarded Best Buy status by Ethical Consumer Magazine, has been named PETA’s Best Cruelty-free Toiletries and Beauty Product. It comes in lots of flavours – including Children’s Strawberry, Fennel Mint, Aloe Vera, Tea Tree and Fennel – and you can get each in fluoride free versions.
My verdict? As natural toothpastes go, Kingfishers taste and texture is just as good as regular toothpaste; and it certainly did the job in keeping my gnashing clean! However, after about a month my teeth became sensitive (I used sensodyne before…) and I had to stop using it. I was also not super keen on the fact that it contained palm oil (something I will be exploring further this summer).
Since then I have moved onto an even more natural toothpaste called Sarakan; which contains natural extract of Salvadora persica, also known as the ‘toothbrush tree’. Fluoride-free, Vegan, Unsweetened and contains no sodium lauryl sulphate, added colours or preservatives or Parabens. Sarakan toothpaste is flavoured with natural oils of peppermint, clove and geranium and is approved by the British Dental Health Foundation.
My verdict? At first the taste is quite medicinal and, whilst not displeasing, is a step away from your average sweeten minty toothpaste. But after a while I began to actually love the taste, and my teeth always feel really clean and fresh afterwards. I’m now on my second tube and, so far, there has been no sensitivity. Though I will continue to road test more natural toothpastes, I am actually pleasantly pleased with the result of sarakan (though only time will tell I guess!!)
Next up on my list in flossing though…can you even get green floss? Let me know if you have any recommendations for lazy green dental care!!
2 thoughts on “Lazy Green Consumer: Natural Toothpaste”
The theory that fluoridation in water causes adverse health effects is still a conspiracy theory I believe. Systematic reviews have found there is insufficient evidence to make any links. Whereas, the links between fluoridation and the prevention of tooth decay is established. In some areas fluorides are found naturally in water, often in higher levels than we add it. Natural doesn’t mean chemical free, everything is made of chemicals.
Hi Sarah thanks for your comment. I know there are certainly some who doubt the health issues linked to flouride consumption, but I have to say that after my own research I found the evidence pretty compelling. Research conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) is the most extensive I have read. HSPH’s paper “Developmental Fluoride Neurotoxicity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” (http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1104912/) was very interesting in terms of neurological effects on children.
Some useful links to current research and scientific opinions can also be found here http://all-natural.com/fleffect.html and here http://fluoridealert.org/.