When you brush your teeth in the morning, do you automatically reach for your handy tube of toothpaste? Have you ever stopped to consider what’s in it? Unfortunately, that refreshing mint toothpaste that makes your teeth feel so clean may mask hidden poisons that can be toxic in high doses and could increase your risk of chronic disease. The health effects of toothpaste products may be even more pronounced in children since they’re more susceptible to lower doses of toxins due to their lower body weight. They also have a tendency to swallow toothpaste because of its pleasing taste.
Recently, it’s been discovered that an ingredient found in many toothpastes and anti-bacterial soap called triclosan has the potential to disrupt the endocrine system, altering both estrogen and testosterone levels in females and males. This anti-bacterial chemical that’s also classified as a pesticide has been shown in mice to alter the growth of breast cancer cells. Even more disturbing is the fact that this chemical when combined with the chlorine found in most samples of tap water produces the toxic gas chloroform. This disturbing effect was shown in a study carried out by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and published in Environmental Science Technology in 2007. The reality is you may be exposing your family to chloroform when you buy your usual brand of toothpaste.
Another component of toothpaste products that has come under scrutiny is fluoride. Although fluoride has been shown to prevent dental decay, it’s also one of the active ingredients in rat poison. Surprisingly, there’s enough fluoride in a standard tube of toothpaste to kill a small child and adults aren’t immune to its effects. The consequences of fluoride consumption in humans may include vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, not to mention the long term effects of repeated low dose exposure. This is a large price to pay for clean, cavity free teeth.
Other potentially harmful ingredients in toothpaste products include dyes extracted from coal tar, some of which have been shown to be carcinogenic. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate which is used to give toothpaste its foamy properties is also known to penetrate the skin and be stored in various bodily organs with unknown long term effects. It can also be a skin irritant. You’ll also find this chemical in most shampoos.
If you’re concerned about the toxic ingredients in toothpaste products, the best solution is to use a natural toothpaste from your health food store. Be sure to read the label before purchasing to make sure it doesn’t contain potentially poisonous ingredients. As a general rule, if you can’t pronounce it or spell it, it should come under suspicion. Another alternative is to use simple baking soda. It’s cheap and can really help to brighten your teeth without the danger of harmful chemicals.