Not all dental products are good for you and not all toothpastes are made equally. There are certain ingredients in toothpastes and dental products that might be harming your teeth rather than helping them, which means that you need to keep an eye on the ingredients list the next time you top up on toothpaste. In order to help you make the smartest decisions for your oral health, here are some of the ingredients you should look out for and avoid when you buy your next tube of toothpaste.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/ Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLS/SLES)
We’ve talked before in other blog posts about the dangers and benefits of sodium lauryl sulphate. This particular ingredient is used to make the toothpaste foam and to give it the gel consistency that we all recognise. SLS is used in many conventional soaps and shampoos; however, it can have some harmful consequences that cause people to often avoid it.
This particular foaming agent is used in toothpaste to better distribute toothpaste around the mouth. When it activates the foam mixes with your saliva and reaches areas that you couldn’t get to with your toothbrush, giving your mouth an over-all clean. But, SLS is known to be contaminated with carcinogens and it can irritate the skin. This means that it can be toxic if you ingest it and due to the tissue in our mouths being some of the most sensitive and delicate tissue in the body, SLS can cause canker sores and prevent oral ulcers from healing. While there isn’t usually enough of the ingredient to be dangerous, if you are experiencing recurring oral sores and dry mouth you may want to switch your toothpaste in case you are overly sensitive to SLS or SLES.
Microbeads/ Polyethylene / Polystyrene (PE/PS)
For a while, the cosmetic and health industry went crazy for microbeads. These tiny, microscopic plastic beads could be found in facewash, shower gel and even toothpaste. Less than a millimetre thick, when used in toothpaste these tiny beads are used as an abrasive to to scrub away at plaque and stains. These beads are nontoxic and pass through you without any problem if you happen to swallow any, but they can become a microscopic menace when they enter the water system. In water treatment plants, these beads bind with toxins and escape into open waters. Fish eat these toxic chemicals and when these fish are eaten by larger animals, such as humans, the effects pass on to them. So, in order to keep the fish alive and other animals (including humans) from ingesting these toxins, steer clear from products with microbeads.
The strange thing about triclosan is that the FDA consider it to be a toxic pesticide and yet it is a common ingredient in antibacterial toothpaste. This is because triclosan is highly effective at killing germs and fighting gingivitis, but it has some other nasty effects as well. There is a delicate balance of bacteria in your mouth – both good and bad – and triclosan is strong enough to disrupt this balance. This can lead to dry mouth, bad breath, and can even affect your immune system. Certain tests involve triclosan also saw animal test subjects experiencing weakening of heart muscle function as well as bone deformation. There is still a lot that we have yet to find out about this particular ingredient, but until answers are brought to light you will find many medical professionals and dentists recommending that you steer clear from toothpaste that contains this ingredient.
Overall, there is no need to be afraid of toothpaste, but there is no time like the present to start being smart about the dental products you buy. Check out our best mouthwash options to see some of the better brands to buy from that don’t use these ingredients and always check the label before you risk your oral health over a tube of toothpaste.