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Is Your Toothpaste Toxic?

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Think your toothpaste is healthy? If it contains any of these toxic ingredients, you may be harming your health. Read more about the potential dangers of toothpaste and healthy alternatives below.

As pursuers of superior health, you probably spend a good portion of your free time researching healthy eating and exercising plans. But in addition to the foods that you eat, have you ever thought about potential health risks lurking in your toothpaste?

According to estimations by health experts, the average American uses about 20 gallons of toothpaste in a lifetime. While you are not intended to swallow large quantities of toothpaste, over the course of your life, you will be consuming some quantity of toothpaste, which means you should take care to choose the healthiest paste both for your teeth and for the health of your entire body.

Not all toothpaste ingredients are healthy, and in fact, some can be quite toxic. Check your toothpaste for these potentially toxic ingredients and view a list of healthy alternatives below.

Common Toxic Ingredients in Toothpaste

Not all brands of toothpaste contain all of these ingredients, but any one of them can have potentially dangerous side effects.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a surfactant that helps create foam. This is what makes regular toothpaste “sudsy.” According to a 1997 study published in the Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry, SLS in toothpaste interferes with the proper functioning of your taste buds, causes skin irritation, and can even make mouth sores worse. SLS can also contain a carcinogenic byproduct, which may increase your risk of developing cancer and poses a danger to marine wildlife.


Fluoride is commonly used in toothpastes because studies have found that topically applying fluoride to the teeth can encourage minerals to bind to the fluoride particles, resulting in stronger, healthier teeth. However, when fluoride is eaten, it can cause significant damage to your body’s systems. Additionally, a study from 2010 published in the journal Langmuir found that the protective layer added to the teeth by fluoride is about 10,000 times thinner than the width of your hair.

The study authors questioned if this protective layer is significant enough to have any benefit on teeth, but nothing definitive was found. In addition to questionable protective effects, fluoride has been linked to tooth discoloration, a sluggish thyroid, endocrine disruption, and even neurological problems. Because the health benefits are questionable but the health problems are not, you may want to think twice before using a fluoride treatment on your teeth.


Triclosan is an antibiotic that is present in some toothpastes. The purpose of tricolosan is to destroy bacteria in the mouth by reducing plaque build-up and gingivitis. A study published in Environmental Health Prospectives in 2015 found that triclosan can have negative health effects, such as antibiotic resistant-bacteria, endocrine disruption, and even the increased risk for the development of cancers. Some studies have found that triclosan can cause bone damage in the fetal development of rats. With all of these studies indicating potential risks for the antibiotic, it makes sense to avoid taking a daily dose of the substance when brushing your teeth.

Artificial Sweeteners

Toothpaste does not taste good on its own. Because toothpaste is not pleasant, scents, flavors, and sweeteners are added. However, it is completely counterintuitive to brush your teeth with pure sugar, which is why many toothpaste manufacturers use artificial sweeteners instead. Many kinds of toothpaste are sweetened with aspartame, which has been linked with health problems such as methanol poisoning and weight gain.

Symptoms of Menthanol Poisoning



Memory loss



Behavioral disturbances


Diethanolamine (DEA) is another foaming product commonly used in toothpaste. However, it also has well-documented health risks. According to a report from the Environmental Working Group, DEA is linked with stomach cancer, bladder cancer, liver cancer, and organ system toxicity. The California Environmental Protection Agency states that DEA is a possible carcinogen for humans and other mammals. Needless to say, foaming action while brushing your teeth is probably not enough benefit for the increased risk of developing cancer.

Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol is a mineral oil that is used in products such as paint and antifreeze. So why is it in your toothpaste? The oil is used to add that sudsing action to your toothpaste but may carry health dangers that include skin irritation, lung irritation, and organ system toxicity. The Environmental Working Group suggests that propylene glycol be avoided in personal care products and elsewhere, when possible.

Healthy Alternatives to Traditional Toothpaste

While there are multiple kinds of toothpaste on the market that do not contain these harmful ingredients, many “natural” toothpastes still contain ingredients that are not the healthiest for your teeth. If you choose to purchase a natural toothpaste, look for kinds of toothpaste without any chemical ingredients or sudsing agents.

Oil-based toothpastes are gaining popularity and may provide a healthy alternative to traditional toothpastes.

Make Your Own Toothpaste

If you have a bit of time on your hands, you can make your own toothpaste. In 2012, researchers from the Athlone Institute of Technology found that coconut oil was highly effective at fighting bacteria in the mouth. The study authors suggested that when the enzymes in your mouth break down the acids in the coconut oil, it creates an acid that is toxic to harmful bacteria.

Many dentists around the world now suggest that rinsing with coconut oil instead of a traditional mouthwash could be beneficial for the health of your entire mouth. Peppermint oil also has antimicrobial properties and a blend of peppermint oil and coconut oil can be an effective cleaner for your teeth and mouth.

The Best Way to Protect Your Dental Health

Tooth brushing alone will not be enough to keep your mouth healthy. In fact, a 2015 study published by Medical News Today indicated that it is your diet that plays the biggest role in the health of your mouth. Feed your body tooth-strengthening ingredients and your teeth will be able to fight tooth decay from the inside out.

The Medical News Today report states, “…sugars are the most important dietary factor in dental disease. Specifically, it is the amount and frequency of free sugars consumed that determine the severity of the decay.”

According to the study, eating too much sugar and not giving your body the right nutrients to build strong teeth causes your teeth to soften and break down. Minerals are transported to your teeth through your saliva, and if your saliva does not have enough mineral content, your teeth will be weaker and more susceptible to decay.

What to Eat for Healthy Teeth

Your teeth require a specific balance of nutrients for optimal health, which includes:

Nutrients Essential for Healthy Teeth
  • Vitamin K2
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin C
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorous
  • Potassium
  • Calcium

Most of these nutrients are found readily in fermented products and animal products. A diet lacking in fermented foods and animal products may be low in essential vitamins for tooth health. Additionally, regular outdoor activities can help boost your essential vitamin D levels without the need for supplements.

In general, if you eat a diet filled with healthy meats, go outside at least 10 minutes a day, eat a variety of vegetables and fruit, eat fermented foods often, and avoid added sugars, your teeth will be healthier. Additionally, some studies suggest that grains contain anti-nutrients that block the absorption of tooth-building nutrients. If you have weak teeth prone to cavities, you may want to cut back on your grain consumption.

Avoid Toxic Toothpaste for Healthy Teeth

Not surprisingly, a toothpaste filled with chemicals is not healthy for your teeth or the rest of your body. By switching to a chemical-free toothpaste, you help your teeth stay healthy while avoiding unwanted side effects. But more importantly, what you eat affects the health of your teeth from the inside out.





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