Are you paying attention to the ingredients used in your toothpaste?
Virtually, everybody uses toothpaste to maintain healthy gums and teeth but most people overlook harmful ingredients that it may contain. Conventional toothpastes of various brands are loaded with potentially harmful chemicals which not only affect the health of teeth and gums but also general health.1 For example, Triclosan, a multi-purpose antimicrobial agent used as a common ingredient in conventional toothpastes and others personal care products, has been found to increase the risk of developing cancer.2, 3 Evidence from studies also suggest that usage of large amounts of toothpastes containing sodium lauryl sulfate should be avoided, particularly in children, as these dentifrices are not intended to stay in the mouth. 4
People might not think much about the ingredients in their conventional toothpaste, but just like these endocrine disrupters, these toothpastes may also contain carcinogens, allergens, irritants, and other toxic chemicals. Even if the toothpaste isn’t swallowed, potentially toxic chemical ingredients present in it are likely to pass into the bloodstream.5 About 90% of these toxic substances are absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and make their way into the bloodstream, posing serious health risks.6
Since more and more studies have shown an association between potentially toxic chemicals present in conventional toothpastes and their adverse effects on dental health and the rest of the body, switching to herbal extracts for prevention and control of dental problems is the need of the hour.7
Health implications of Fluoridated toothpastes
Fluoride is known to inhibit dental caries and due to this ability, it is used in toothpastes of various brands. However, some research studies evaluating the effectiveness of fluoridated toothpastes in children have cast serious doubts on its usefulness.8
Findings from a study have demonstrated that in the early years of life, swallowed fluoride toothpaste is associated with increased risk of dental fluorosis – a condition where the tooth enamel fails to crystallize properly.9
During tooth formation, excess fluoride ingestion results in dental fluorosis.10 In fact, ingesting fluoride toothpaste even in pea-sized amounts can lead to mild fluorosis.11 As young children are likely to swallow more fluoride from toothpaste than is safe, the usage of these fluoridated toothpastes isn’t recommended for them12.
“Apart from dentifrices, exposure to fluoride occurs through dietary intake and fluoride supplements. Ingesting fluoride even for a short duration may lead to toxicity,” says Dietician Jigna Sheth.
According to another study, labels on these toothpastes show only information about total fluoride and not total soluble fluoride concentration.14
In addition to fluoride, other harmful ingredients like triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, carrageenan, propylene glycol, diethanolamine and microbeads are also present in conventional toothpastes. Targeting the children, commercial toothpaste brands also flavor their toothpastes with artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners and these ingredients are associated with hyperactivity and related behavioral problems in children.15, 16
Toothpaste ingredients make a difference
Natural and holistic care is a great way of leading a balanced lifestyle; and taking care of your teeth in a natural way is one part of the equation. While commercial toothpastes contain a number of toxic ingredients, switching to toothpastes with truly natural ingredients and other remedies is a much safer option. Dentifrices with herbal extracts are clinically proven to be safer than and as effective as conventional toothpastes. Not only are they gentler on the teeth and gums, but also control plaque, gingivitis and other dental problems safely.17
Some dozens of herbal toothpaste brands available in the market boast that they are free from fluoride, triclosan and other harmful substances, claiming that their product is completely organic. As not all herbal toothpastes are created equal, it is important for customers to check herbal toothpastes for their ingredients.
“Continuous application of herbal toothpastes is highly effective in preventing dental problems and improving oral hygiene levels. However, it is important to read the labels carefully while purchasing herbal toothpastes to make sure that they contain only natural ingredients,” says Dr Rohan Virani, MDS (OMMFR), MIFL(GERMANY),Affiliate ICOI, Consultant Global Hospital,Parel.
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