Buy natural toothpaste
Many toothpastes include potentially carcinogenic chemicals, such as parabens, and a variety of synthetic sweeteners and chemical additives. Brushing with natural toothpastes and powders is healthier for you and the environment.
Brushing your teeth at least twice a day is just good dental hygiene. But are ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and parabens causing eco- and health-woes while scrubbing your teeth clean? Avoid synthetic dyes, preservatives, sweeteners, and anti-microbial agents to get a green clean by choosing organic toothpaste, SLS free toothpaste, and other natural toothpaste varieties!
What to look for when choosing a natural toothpaste
Natural toothpastes do exist, replacing antibacterial chemicals, synthetic sweeteners, and dyes with plant-based, healthy ingredients. However, since laws regulating the use of the term "natural" on product labeling are lax, you'll need to read the ingredients list carefully and look for third-party certifications when shopping for a greener, safer toothpaste. Specifically, keep an eye out for the following:
- Avoid triclosan: Studies have shown that the antibacterial agent triclosan acts as an endocrine disruptor and ecological pollutant with the potential to cause health problems in humans, as well as animals living in waterways where triclosan is deposited after disposal down the drain. Triclosan has been found in 55 percent of streams examined in 2002 at levels high enough to disrupt the natural life cycle of frogs.
- Look for paraben-free toothpaste: Parabens — preservatives that prevent the growth of bacteria — are found in about 75 to 90 percent of cosmetic and personal care products.Winter, Ruth (2005) A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients. New York: Three Rivers Press: 41-555 After washing down the drain, these chemicals are discharged through wastewater systems and end up in waterways, where they appear to have estrogenic effects on fish. In humans, parabens can affect the endocrine system, which produces hormones. Acting like estrogen in the body, they increase the risk of breast cancer, with recent studies finding parabens in breast tumors. Parabens have been found in breast milk, blood, and body tissues, and can enter a developing fetus.
- Look for plant-based ingredients: When applied to the soft tissues of mouths and gums, many of the chemicals found in conventional toothpastes can be irritating or cause long term harm. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), for example, which is used as a foaming and cleansing agent, is a suspected carcinogen. Natural oils, like peppermint for flavor or tea tree for antibacterial power, and plant-derived compounds are safer for you and the environment.
- Go organic: Because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spends only a tiny portion of its budget investigating the chemical composition and toxins in skin care products, toothpastes can tout their use of organic ingredients and still have up to 30 percent synthetic materials, even the ones labeled "organic" or "made with organic ingredients." The only way to be sure that the product you are purchasing is, in fact, organic is too look for the USDA Organic Seal on the label. This seal guarantees that every ingredient is organically produced as defined by the National Organics Standards Board, which bans the use of harmful pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and genetic engineering.
- Look for toothpaste that does not employ animal testing: While you're contemplating green attributes, you may also wish to join the cruelty-free movement. Just keep in mind: a company may claim that they don't employ animal testing for their products, but without third-party verification, it's hard to know whether these statements are in fact completely true. So stick to those products certified as cruelty-free by looking for products with the Leaping Bunny Logo or the Certified Vegan Logo. You can rest assured that no bunnies (or monkeys or cats for that matter) were harmed in the making of these non-animal-tested products.
Brushing with a natural toothpaste helps you go green because…
- It prevents harmful chemical additives from washing down the drain and into the environment, and keeps potentially health-threatening chemicals out of your body.
- It supports companies that manufacture natural toothpastes, which grows the market for these products and encourages the replacement of synthetic ingredients with natural ones.
- Most natural toothpaste companies are ecologically conscious in other ways as well, including using renewable energy and recycled packaging. Supporting them helps supports greener industry practices.
Related health issues
Fluoride is required in toothpastes endorsed by the American Dental Association, but it does pose some possible health issues, namely enamel fluorosis, which primarily affects children 8 and younger. Enamel fluorosis is an excess mineral deposit of fluoride on developing enamel.
- TreeHugger - There's a Frog Disrupter in my Soap
- Centers for Disease Control
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