I’m on an adventure to switch all my body care products to healthier, more natural alternatives.
This is the first in my “Making the Switch” series – I will be discussing what products I have switched to and why.
If you’ve already read my post about my diagnosis of perioral dermatitis (a fancy way to say my chin gets inflamed and has awful breakouts), then you noticed that one of the potential causes of this issue is fluoride in toothpaste and exposure to sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). I’ve never been convinced fluoride is necessary for healthy teeth, so this was an easy switch for me. Before you freak out about that last statement, maybe check out a few articles here on the negative impact of fluoride.
Switching from Crest
I was using Crest toothpaste, which has both fluoride and SLS in it. It also had some other problematic ingredients, but I was mainly focused on cutting out any SLS from my body care routine. So bye, bye Crest.
One issue I had with the Crest toothpaste was that it contained the sweeteners sorbitol and saccharin. A weird side effect of that was that brushing my teeth surpressed my appetite. I could wake up hungry and ready for breakfast but after I brushed my teeth, I wouldn’t want to eat for hours. This was a problem when I was running out the door for a long shift of physical labor at work. I am pretty sensitive to artificial sweeteners (and why do we need them in toothpaste?), so I was looking forward to finding something without sugar in it. The whole point of brushing my teeth was to keep them clean, not coat them with extra sugar!
Trying Natural Toothpaste
I decided to try the toothpaste my husband was already using (he was also avoiding fluoride and sulfates due to chronic mouth sores) and didn’t mind it. We were using Nature’s Gate Cool Mint Gel toothpaste (http://www.amazon.com/Natures-Gate-Natural-Toothpaste-5-Ounce/dp/B001E72308).
It is fluoride free, sulfate free, paraben free, soy free, and has no artificial sweeteners or flavors.
It doesn’t have any SLS (which is a soap/foaming agent), so it’s not foamy like my Crest was. But I got used to it pretty quickly. It didn’t leave me with crazy minty fresh breath like the Crest did, but I had no appetite issues which was a great trade off for me.
Then I read up a little on glycerin (the first ingredient in the Nature’s Gate) and decided I wanted to experiment with avoiding that as well. Glycerin has been said to leave a film on your teeth which can prevent them from remineralizing, which weakens the teeth. Haven’t done enough research on this to call myself an expert yet though. But I did notice my teeth didn’t feel as slick and clean after brushing when I was using the Nature’s Gate.
Going Even More Natural
So, then I found Earthpaste.
I bought some online: https://www.redmondtrading.com/product/earthpaste-spearmint/
FAQ page about their toothpastes: http://www.earthpaste.com/frequently-asked-questions/
This is what we are currently using and we both love it! The Nature’s Gate was a good transition toothpaste since the Earthpaste is pretty unique. I chose the Spearmint flavor because I like mint and it’s the only unsweetened flavor they offer. Their other flavors (Cinnamon, Lemon, Peppermint, Wintergreen) use xylitol as a sweetener – according to their website and many others, it is supposed to be safe, but these days artificial sweeteners tend to give me a headache and a stomachache. Super happy that they offer the unsweetened Spearmint flavor.
If you’re interested in what exactly xylitol is and if it’s safe to ingest, I liked this resource a lot:
The Earthpaste took a little getting used to and it would’ve been a weird transition to go straight from Crest to it. Our new toothpaste is brown in color, not nearly as sweet as the Crest, and not foamy at all. But I found the taste was just fine and I didn’t mind the color. It’s simple to use.
-No more appetite issues after brushing my teeth
-No more exposure to fluoride/SLS (hopefully going to help heal my face and be healthier for us in general)
-Very clean feeling teeth
In my life, I have had 10-15 fillings (I forget the exact number) and a few crowns. Thankfully, no root canals. I have had access to excellent dental care my whole life, but it’s only within the past several years that I realized I needed to get serious about my oral health. At the past few 6 month checkups, I have had no new cavities which is a record for me! I started the Earthpaste right after I got back from a 6 month dental cleaning. I will be interested to see what my dentist thinks of my teeth in 6 months.
If you’re considering making the switch, try something like the Nature’s Gate or another alternative first. Or if you’re brave, go straight for the Earthpaste or something similar! A good friend of mine uses a healthy mouth blend for her teeth. I haven’t tried it yet, but I am going to soon. Check our her blog post about what she uses for another perspective.
Things to Consider
It’s okay if the thought of switching your toothpaste strikes you as weird or unnecessary. I’d encourage you to look up the ingredients in your toothpaste and compare them to the information you can find on the EWG site: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
Watch out for ingredients like:
Propolyene glycol – known to irritate skin with frequent exposure (from the Agency for Toxic Substances + Disease Registry site); associated with “irritant and allergic contact dermatitis” as well as causing a rash – classified as a skin irritant (from EWG site). This is also found in most deodorants.
PEG-6 (or PEG-other numbers) – classified as toxic to skin. The main issue some people have w/ PEG is that it helps deliver other ingredients deeper into the skin. If there are other toxic ingredients in your body product, they are absorbed deeper into your skin because of the action/presence of PEG. PEG’s have also been tentatively linked to breast cancer (there’s a lot of arguing going on about that, so that’s why I say “tentatively”).
Resources on PEG’s: http://www.phend.co.za/health/Chemical5.htm and https://www.truthinaging.com/review/what-is-it-pegs
Cocomidopropyl betaine: associated w/ skin irritation (either due to its own presence or impurities within it); suspected to be an environmental toxin – from EWG site. Even companies who claim this ingredient is safe nonetheless recognize that it can cause allergic reactions and it can be contaminated (which causes irritation). It was named Allergen Source of the Year in 2004. (Didn’t know they made awards for that LOL).
Sucralose/saccharin/sorbitol: artificial sweeteners found in toothpaste. One sucralose name brand is Splenda. Sucralose has been linked to gastrointestinal problems, dizziness, migraines, seizures, blurred vision, allergic reactions, and weight gain. Saccharin is also known as Sweet and Low. Reactions to saccharin included skin issues, headaches, and diarrhea. Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol. Through the way your body processes sorbitol, it can cause serious complications for those with diabetes. For those who don’t have diabetes, sorbitol is linked to gas, bloating, and other digestive issues.
Resources on sucralose: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/18/sucralose-side-effects.aspx and http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/02/10/new-study-of-splenda-reveals-shocking-information-about-potential-harmful-effects.aspx
Triclosan: This is a big one. Triclosan is found in toothpaste, soap, clothing, body wash, kitchenware, toys, and more. Triclosan is added to many products to “reduce bacterial contamination.” Doctors and hospital staff are now told not to use soap containing triclosan. One problem is that bacteria exposed to triclosan are becoming resistant to antibiotics. It has also been linked to hormonal disruption, infertility, and even cancer. Suspected to be an environmental toxin. Registered as a pesticide.
Resources on triclosan: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/08/27/triclosan-toothpaste.aspx and http://www.ewg.org/research/healthy-home-tips/tip-5-wash-those-hands-avoid-triclosan
If you can afford a more natural toothpaste, why not give it a try? We only get one mouth. I’m looking forward to taking the best care of my mouth and teeth that I can. A tube of Crest costs me a few dollars. A tube of the Earthpaste costs me a little more. But I consider it a worthy investment into my oral health, especially after all the money I have spent on dental care.