In this day and age, it is more widely understood that commercial toothpaste is highly toxic than ever before. Big brands like Crest and Colgate have, for so many years, been the first kind of toothpaste that I and many others would reach for on the Target shelf. It wasn’t until I started more thoroughly researching an all-natural, holistic lifestyle that I learned what to watch out for and why…
As humans, we are only a product of our own experience. We can’t change how we were raised, what we were taught, what we were fed growing up, what kinds of products were put on our skin, etc. A lot of what we take from those experiences is familiarity. For instance, you grow up in a household where every person uses whatever toothpaste (or shampoo, soap, food) is available and/or provided. I know I sure wasn’t going out buying my own toothpaste when I lived with my parents. Say you grew up using Colgate. When you move out on your own, you buying Crest? Nope, you buyin’ Colgate! Well, unless you’re a broke college student. In which case you’re probably buying an equally bad, cheaper version LOL. Either way, I haven’t crafted my own research group, but I can confidently say that 98% of the time, you’re most likely to buy the same brands that you are familiar with. And we are not to blame for this comfortability. It’s what we know. It feels “safe” for us. In reality, though, we are not taking the time we should be to look into how these products are affecting our overall health and longevity. What we can do, though, is make the conscious effort to grow our knowledge and make better decisions for our (as well as our family’s) future.
I’ve been using baking soda to brush for about a year now. I went to see a new dentist and he recommended it to me. I had already been using an all-natural, non-toxic toothpaste from Mother’s, so I wasn’t immediately sold. I figured my toothpaste was safe, and I felt comfortable with the ingredients, so switching over wasn’t a huge concern for me. (I’m also guilty of ignoring a lot of what health professionals advise me, as I mostly would never actually use anything they are recommending. I’d ALWAYS rather do my own research and heal myself naturally). I started out by just sprinkling a little bit of baking soda over my applied toothpaste (the taste of baking soda alone is definitely something you will have to get used to). I kinda did it for awhile and then got over it. It wasn’t until I went back to the dentist 6 months later that I realized how serious he was about baking soda. He basically called me out saying, “I can see you haven’t been using baking soda.” First of all, huh? How could you possibly know what kind of product I had been using by examining my mouth for less than 5 minutes. I admitted that I hadn’t stuck to it, and he of course explained why it is so vital, especially for healthy gums. He basically explained to me how baking soda very successfully kills the bacteria that plaque feeds on. No food for plaque to thrive on, no plaque. Simple as that. Further, he pointed out how gum disease is caused by an accumulation of plaque on the teeth. Two birds one stone. I’ve used baking soda alone for every day after that.
Now let’s get into the juicy details and talk about the science. First, let’s talk about how exactly baking soda works, and then we’ll explore what is so scary about those big brand toothpastes I warned you about.
How it works
Baking soda is a salt (so it’s antimicrobial), and it’s alkaline, so it neutralizes our mouth’s acidic bacteria. This makes it a difficult environment for the bacteria to survive in. It also is highly effective in removing stains and whitening our teeth! When dissolved in water, baking soda releases free radicals which break down the stains on our teeth. Over time, you will begin to notice a significant difference in the color your teeth once were, and the color they are now since you’ve been brushing with baking soda! Hellooooo! Natural, cheap, chemical and bleach free teeth whitener? Count me in. Additionally, by attacking plaque, brushing with baking soda helps to prevent dental decay, cavity formation, and gum diseases on a large scale. Last, and most importantly, baking soda has no known adverse health effects (that I’ve become aware of) *cue hallelujah music*. What a dream!
Now that I’ve discussed why to love baking soda as a toothpaste alternative, let’s dive a little deeper into why an alternative is necessary in the first place...
What commercial toothpaste brands contain that should be avoided
[This page has lots more great info on the dangers of Fluoride including statistics, tables, and more specific examples: http://fluoridealert.org/studies/acute03/ ]
“WARNING: Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately.”
2. Titanium dioxide: www.drbrite.com does a great job of explaining simply why it is imperative to avoid this ingredient: “This inorganic compound gives toothpaste it’s pleasant bright, white color. But what's not so pleasant? The harmful effects it can have on your body. Titanium dioxide nanoparticles are able to penetrate into your gums and have toxic reactions in your brain and cause nerve damage. It's also possibly carcinogenic to humans, which means it has the potential to cause cancer.”
3. Sodium lauryl sulfate is a detergent that is known to cause microscopic tears in the mouth, leading to canker sores. It’s a surfactant, which are chemicals responsible for the foaming aspect. What they also do, is break up phospholipids on your tongue, ultimately interfering with the function of your taste buds. With SLS, you also take the risk that the manufacturing process very well could have resulted in potential contamination in 1,4 dioxane, which is a carcinogenic byproduct.
These are just a few explanations, but others to look out for are:
Artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners
I know, I know. You’re probably thinking, “okay, what’s the catch?” I have none for you, actually. I can say that I have no complaints, other than the initial strong taste, that applies to using baking soda as a toothpaste alternative. I will, however, bring attention to the common misconception that baking soda is overly abrasive to our teeth. In order for FDA approval, toothpaste brands are required to regularly measure their product’s abrasivity. Measurements are given by a radioactive dentin abrasion (RDA). Baking soda has an RDA of 7, which is comparably lower than almost all commercial toothpastes. You can view more RDA’s of common brands here: http://satyen.com/toothpastes.shtml.
I’m all about convenience, so I made it really easy to reach for my baking soda every morning and night. I simply poured my baking soda into an old (clean) glass candle container (shout out A Birds Moon Candle Co. Check them out!) and keep it next to the sink. Everytime I use, I just wet my toothbrush, dip, and brush for about 2 minutes. You do want to be careful not to brush too hard! At first, it will definitely feel as though your breath smells bad because you aren’t getting that harsh peppermint taste that you’re used to. But do not fret, my friends! The baking soda, once again, does a great job at killing all odor-causing bacteria. So you are very much in the clear ;)
You can find baking soda in the baking section of any Target, Walmart, grocery store, etc. for less than $1 for a pound.
Tons of love,