What’s Really in your Toothpaste?
Beware before you Brush
Sure, we all know about the most common ingredient in toothpaste, fluoride which protects our teeth, but what about the other ingredients listed on the toothpaste tube?
These "inactive" ingredients – things like sodium lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol, sweeteners, artificial flavors and food dyes actually make up the majority of what is in each tube and can be bad for your health.
Surprisingly, the active ingredients in toothpaste, typically the sodium fluoride, make up less than 1% of most toothpaste brands ingredients. So what is the other 99% of toothpaste made up of and why are these chemicals in there? The answers may surprise you.
We all know not to swallow toothpaste, but even if you don’t swallow, you can be at risk from the chemicals. The mucus membranes inside the mouth are one of the most direct routes to the blood, the brain and other cells of your body since the mucosal lining inside the mouth has about 90% absorption efficiency.
Inactive Toothpaste Ingredients
Inactive ingredients include chemicals that give toothpaste its color, flavor and texture. Toothpaste manufacturers may not disclose these ingredients on packaging since they aren’t intended for ingestion.
This is the abrasive used to polish and scrub the surface of your teeth in gel toothpastes. If you dry out hydrated silica, you get the common silica gel found inside pepperoni packages and electronics. The water absorbing ability of silica gel also makes it a perfect ingredient for cat litter.
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) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) Make Toothpaste Foamy
These chemicals are found in shampoo, soap, hand cream, mouthwash and just about every common personal care product, where they provide a soft, foamy texture. They are also used as surfactants in engine degreaser and in car wash soaps.
SLS is known to cause skin and eye irritation and is a suspected carcinogen. SLS has been attributed with causing mouth canker sores by creating microscopic damage to the oral tissues inside the mouth.
Artificial Sweeteners and Flavors for Taste
Most major toothpaste brands contain artificial flavors and sweeteners added for flavor. These additives can provoke allergic reactions, headaches and can also cause irritation to the gums and oral tissue.
FD&C Blue Number 1
Food dyes are added to several toothpaste brands to give them the cool minty blue color when you squeeze it out of the tube. This synthetic dye is made from coal tar and is used to color toothpaste, soap, shampoo and food. It’s estimated that the average American consumes 16 mg of this dye a day.
What’s even more concerning is even the fluoride in toothpaste, added to protect our teeth, requires a warning label by the FDA which reads: "If more than the amount used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact poison control right away. Keep away from children under six years old.”
Obviously not all toothpaste manufacturers’ use the exact same ingredients, but these are the main ingredients used in most toothpastes and a surprising number of other personal hygiene products. So whatever your favorite toothpaste happens to be, take a look at the ingredients and check out exactly you’re putting in your mouth.
Healthy Choice Naturals