Natural toothpaste is on the come-up. As the demand for more natural products rose, personal care manufacturers slowly began to respond until a wealth of natural toothpaste options became available.
Natural toothpaste is significantly different from conventional toothpaste, and the process you use to choose one will also be significantly different. Most of us purchase toothpaste based on packaging claims or things we see in advertisements. We grab the number one whitening toothpaste, or the toothpaste that 4 out of 5 dentists recommend. We look at packaging and select something that says it’s for sensitive teeth if hot or cold drinks cause an uncomfortable sensation in our mouths.
Natural toothpastes are a whole new world of ingredients. While they’re able to address the same concerns that conventional toothpastes address, they do so in a completely different way. Before you pick up a tube of the natural stuff, it helps to know the difference between natural toothpastes and their conventional competitors. You’ll be able to find a natural toothpaste that works just as well as the one you’re ditching for a better alternative.
Why Use Natural Toothpaste?
There are a lot of reasons why people feel inclined to make the switch to natural toothpaste. Some of them are environmental reasons and some of them are health related reasons. We know that artificial ingredients aren’t often kind to the environment. Manufacturing artificial colors and flavors when plenty of natural alternatives exist only adds to the amount of waste we generate and carbon we emit.
Artificial ingredients in toothpaste often don’t serve an important purpose. Additives to make your toothpaste look prettier or taste better won’t do anything to benefit your dental health. Most conventional toothpastes utilize a wealth of chemicals to achieve the same thing that plants, extracts, roots, and minerals can accomplish perfectly well.
Some conventional toothpastes contain unnecessary ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS. SLS is a surfactant and a lathering agent that strips natural oils off of your body. Using SLS on your hair, skin, or teeth will remove your body’s natural biofilm, drying you out. SLS in your mouth can leave your mouth uncomfortably dry, sometimes exacerbating canker sores or leading to bad breath.
If you’re trying to move towards a lifestyle that is healthier for your body and healthier for the earth, ditching artificial ingredients is a big first step on the right track.
What Does Traditional Toothpaste Do?
Traditional toothpaste is, at its core, designed to keep your teeth clean and strong. Most traditional toothpastes boast additional benefits, like tooth whitening power, plaque prevention, or protection for sensitive teeth. There’s no reason why one great toothpaste shouldn’t accomplish all of these feats at the same time.
Traditional whitening toothpastes utilize harsh bleaching ingredients like hydrogen peroxide. Peroxide definitely works to bleach your teeth. It can also bleach your hair and your laundry. It’s a very strong chemical that penetrates the surface of everything it comes into contact with, removing pigments beneath the surface and leaving behind a bright white color.
When you use peroxide on your teeth, it’s penetrating your enamel. Healthy teeth start with strong enamel, and every time you apply peroxide to your teeth, you’re weakening that enamel. The peroxide needs to pass in and out to complete its bleaching action, and it’s blowing out important bits of enamel you’ll never get back every time you use it.
Anti-plaque toothpastes work by scouring stuck-on plaque off the surface of your teeth. Ideally, you’ll never have plaque to contend with. If you do, you definitely want to remove it. These toothpastes use very gritty, very harsh substances to amp up their scrubbing power. They work similarly to powdered scouring cleaners you might use to remove buildup from your bathtub.
When you brush these gritty substances into your teeth, they’re going to take off plaque. Before they take off plaque, they’re going to scrub away enamel from the areas of your teeth that don’t have plaque buildup. By the time they’re done getting rid of the plaque, your enamel is spotty, uneven, and weakening in irregular patterns.
Toothpastes for sensitive teeth are often far less gritty, making them less likely to cause enamel damage. They often contain minerals and ingredients like fluoride, and are designed to restore weakened enamel that may lead to discomfort when eating or drinking. Despite the fact that these toothpastes are intended to be gentle, they’re still not without issue. If you prefer to avoid fluoride, it can be hard to find a conventional sensitive toothpaste that doesn’t utilize the ingredient.
Is Fluoride Natural?
Fluoride is a natural ingredient, but that doesn’t automatically mean it’s safe. Fluoride comes from fluorine, one of the most plentiful elements within the earth. It’s richly concentrated in soil, in natural bodies of water, and even in the air around us. Small concentrations of synthetic fluoride are added to the public water supply, so fluoride pours right out of your tap.
Fluoride is a hearty mineral that makes its way up through the soil and into the plants we eat, including our morning cup of coffee or tea. Coffee beans and tea leaves absorb and retain significant amounts of fluoride from the dirt and from groundwater, ultimately passing it on to you. Most fruits, vegetables, and herbs will have at least some fluoride content, even if it’s negligible.
Add this vast wealth of fluoride to the amount of fluoride you’re getting in your toothpaste. It’s likely a lot of fluoride, and that’s where the problems begin. Fluoride is not a nutrient. It isn’t something your body needs to ingest for optimal health, like calcium or vitamin C. It’s simply a mineral. It doesn’t have calories, and it isn’t a source of energy. When you have too much of it, your body just stores it.
In children whose adult teeth are still waiting up their gums, it starts to deposit excess fluoride there. The end result is a condition called dental fluorosis, which causes freshly erupted adult teeth to have surface staining and a rough texture that makes them difficult to clean. In adults, these deposits form on the bones. This leads to a condition called skeletal fluorosis, where bones can become brittle and joints can become stiff.
Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. If you’re worried about the potential consequences of fluoride, many natural toothpastes utilize other minerals and nutrients to strengthen the teeth without the potential of negative side effects.
What Natural Ingredients Do
Natural toothpastes are designed to keep your mouth healthy and your teeth strong in the gentlest way possible. Some of them even fight bacteria, something that conventional toothpaste was never designed to do.
Bad oral bacteria leads to plaque, bad breath, gum disease, and sometimes dental infections. Natural antibacterial agents like lavender, mint, and nano silver can help to damage or destroy much of the bad bacteria in the mouth. Natural antibacterial ingredients are potent enough to get the job done, but not so potent that they wipe the slate clean of all the healthy microorganisms that your body needs to create a natural line of defense.
Natural whitening toothpastes utilize mild to moderately gritty ingredients derived from the earth to slowly buff away surface stains over time. They pose little to no risk to your enamel, especially since the grit often comes from the same minerals needed to keep your teeth strong. You can whiten your teeth, remove plaque, and strengthen your enamel all at the same time.
Choosing the Best Natural Toothpaste
The best natural toothpaste will do a little bit of everything your mouth needs to stay healthy and balanced. It will have just enough grit to clean your teeth, remove surface stains, prevent plaque buildup, and restore your enamel.
Ingredients like coral calcium can accomplish all of those things at once. Coral calcium is a rich source of minerals that promote healthy teeth, and it’s slightly gritty in texture. It will buff the surface of the teeth enough to cause a natural whitening effect and remove the beginnings of plaque. Since the grit comes from minerals your teeth can use, it’s fortifying your enamel without fluoride as it performs its other functions.
Xylitol is an ingredient that boosts the effect of tooth remineralization and can help prevent cavities. Xylitol is a sweetener derived from natural sources that does not contain sugar, which is harmful to the teeth. Xylitol can restore the PH of the mouth from an acidic level to an alkaline level, allowing beneficial minerals to thrive and properly execute the function of remineralizing the teeth.
Xylitol leaves behind a harmless film on the surface of the teeth. This film establishes before a bacterial film can establish, effectively repelling bacteria that attempt to stick to your teeth to erode your enamel and cause cavities.
Ingredients like nano silver help to safely and naturally destroy bad bacteria in the mouth. Nano silver works by stealing electrons from the cell walls of harmful bacteria, rendering them useless. It isn’t harmful to healthy cells or the protective biofilm of your mouth, so it won’t cause the same kind of damage that strong antibacterial ingredients like alcohol tend to cause.
Switching to a natural toothpaste is just good common sense. Natural toothpastes are highly effective, sometimes doing a better job of protecting your mouth than any traditional toothpaste was ever designed to do. It keeps your mouth healthy with proven natural ingredients that you know and understand. You’ll never be wondering what you’re putting in your mouth or the damage it can potentially be causing.
Source 1 - SLS data
Source 2 - fluoride not a nutrient
Source 3 - healthy oral PH