What's in Your Toothpaste?
On a daily basis we might not think to heavily about what’s in the stuff we squeeze over the toothbrush and swirl around the mouth, and allow small children to swallow, but over a lifetime this little bob adds up to about 20 litres of toothpaste, and although we spit most of it out again some of the chemicals will still find their way into the bloodstream as the mouth is one of the most absorbent places in the entire body and the first the gateway to every system in the body. This is why some medications are administered sublingually - or under our tongue.
This is why we need to be very careful when choosing toothpaste. Many popular brands contain questionable ingredients that we're far better off avoiding
If you prefer to use natural alternatives to conventional antibacterial dental and gum care, then have a look at my blog on homemade toothpaste.
THE MOST COMMON INGREDIENTS IN TOOTHPASTE:
Fluoride. Sodium fluoride is what we know as "fluoride" in toothpaste, and is the stuff, which is added to drinking water many places too. Sodium fluoride occurs naturally as the mineral villiaumite, but it’s not that source that is used to make the commercial sodium fluoride. The sodium fluoride in our toothpaste is most often made from waste products from the making of phosphate fertilizers and aluminium. In this process apatite (a form of calcium phosphate, which also contains fluorides and/or chlorides) is crushed and treated with sulphuric acid. The products of this process include phosphoric acid, calcium sulphate, hydrogen fluoride and silicon tetrafluoride. Hydrogen fluoride and silicon tetrafluoride can then be converted to the sodium fluoride.
Sodium fluoride is a skin, eye and respiratory irritant, and can also be corrosive. If swallowed, it can cause corrosion of the digestive tract, cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, general weakness, tremors, convulsions, collapse, breathing difficulties, heart failure and death. Ingestion of as little as five grams of pure sodium fluoride can result in death. A condition called fluorosis is also associated with the ingestion of high doses of sodium fluoride.
Fluorosis is characterized by a yellow colour and increased brittleness of teeth and bones. Although all these conditions sounds very severe, they are very rare and only seen at several thousand times greater doses than what you get from the fluorine in your toothpaste and public water supplies.
Fluoride is for most dentists the only proper prevention against periodontal diseases and tooth decays, yet in recent years flour has been subject to increasing control and scrutinising - and for good reasons. Furthermore. A groundbreaking study published in the journal Langmuir in 2010 uncovered that the supposedly beneficial fluorapatite layer formed on your teeth from fluoride is a mere six nanometers thick. To understand just how thin this is, you'd need 10,000 of these layers to get the width of a strand of your hair! Scientists now question whether this ultra-thin layer can actually protect your enamel and provide any discernible benefit, considering the fact that simple chewing quickly eliminates it.
Triclosan is an anti-bacterial chemical. The chemical has been linked to concerns over antibiotic resistance and endocrine disruption
PVM/MA Copolymer is a water fixative found in hairspray that does a wonderful job of making triclosan stick to your oral tissues longer. In other words, it helps triclosan stay on your teeth and gums where it can kill bacteria, rather than getting rinsed away.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). Many types of toothpaste contain surfactants like sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS). Surfactants are chemicals responsible for the foaming action of the toothpaste, but they also interfere with the functioning of your taste buds by breaking up the phospholipids on your tongue. This enhances bitter tastes and is thought to be the reason why everything tastes so bad right after you've brushed your teeth.
Sodium Hydroxide is also known as caustic soda. Sodium hydroxide is a highly corrosive substance, which among other things is used for neutralizing acids. It’s a skin, eye and mucous membranes irritant. Toxic if swallowed. Corrodes metal and human tissues.
Carrageenan. A thickener/emulsifier. Inflammatory if swallowed. Found in many foods and ready meals. Carrangeenan is processed through an alkaline procedure of red algae or seaweed. When you prepare seaweed in an acidic solution, you get what is referred to as “degraded carrageenan” or poligeenan.
Propylene Glycol. Propylene glycol is a type of mineral oil that, in the industrial grade, is used in antifreeze, paints, enamels, and airplane de-icers. The pharmaceutical-grade form is used in many personal care products, including toothpaste, as a surfactant. Research on the safety of propylene glycol in personal care products is lacking, although it's a known skin, eye, and lung irritant and may cause organ system toxicity.
Sodium Saccharin is the salt form of saccharin, an artificial sweetener.
Titanium Dioxide is the substance that makes a product white. Also found in paint. There is not much information available about the risks associated with the consumption of titanium dioxide, but generally considered safe by food authorities.