The Best Toothpaste
As a dental professional, I bristle at most ads for dental health products. I really bristle when I’m in a grocery or drug store and see the vast array of toothpaste products displayed, almost all of which are formulated and marketed by big companies with huge advertising budgets and close ties with the powerful dental industry. Increasingly, people are realizing the intentions behind these products and are doing their own research to find healthier alternatives.
For me, the bottom line is the list of ingredients. For each ingredient, we must ask what is it, why is it there, and what is its effect on your health? Some will assume that because the intention is not to swallow, that no harm can come to ones health anyway. But the soft tissues in the mouth are highly absorptive, and we do indeed take these substances in. So whether you decide to choose a commercial product or to take total control and make your own instead, know that the ingredients will have effects on you. The thing you have the most power over is what you put into your body.
So where to start? Let me state a couple initial guidelines. It’s good to know what is NOT in the product, as illustrated in the photo above, but follow that by turning to the ingredients list and seeing just what IS in that product. The first test for me is if the product contains fluoride. If so, keep on looking. This alone eliminates about 95% of the toothpastes on store shelves. If this statement puzzles you, then you have homework to do. Another guideline is that the healthier products usually have shorter ingredient lists.
• Avoid all major label products, as these contain the most unhealthy ingredients.
• Avoid fluoride
• Don’t assume you can trust any one brand. Things change. For example, Tom’s is now owned by Colgate, and the ingredients of the once trusted brand have changed. Even the non fluoride products must be scrutinized.
• Avoid SLS (sodium laurel sulfate), which is a detergent that strips the natural protective layers from soft tissues, contributing to canker sores.
• Avoid “whitening” products, as these contain abrasives to remove stains from the tooth surface. They remove enamel, too.
• If you don’t know what an ingredient is, its easy to look it up online.
• Places that generally carry healthier products are health or supplement stores, and chain stores with natural sections.
You may want to make your own toothpaste, which I encourage. A common, simple, and very healthy approach is to mix baking soda with coconut oil, maybe adding a few drops of mint oil for flavor. Baking soda is not regarded as an abrasive. In fact, it’s next to water on the dental abrasivity index. Out of the box it is very supportive of oral health; the commercial Arm & Hammer toothpaste is not. Coconut oil has antibacterial properties, and its medium chain fatty acids are good for your health. People take it as a supplement.
In the end, there is no such thing as the “best toothpaste”. But don’t believe me; do your own research and come to your own conclusions. You may decide that the best toothpaste is no toothpaste at all.