Friday, October 12, 2012

Top Myths About Natural Toothpaste

It's interesting how history tends to repeat itself every so often.  Today we consider natural toothpaste an alternative to commercial toothpaste.  Toothpaste has been around since ancient Roman times when crushed bones and sand were added to teeth cleaners.  Commercially prepared natural toothpaste began to surface as early as 1866.  At that time,  these natural toothpaste or tooth powders made claims that commercially made brands did more harm than good, (sound familiar?).

Truth be told, before processed foods, fast foods, and sugary snacks, people ate fresh wholesome foods, and tooth decay and dental disease was not so widespread, but rather rare.  Due to healthy diet, as long as you brushed your teeth with water, you had clean, pearly whites.

The first creamy toothpaste in a tube was made in 1850 by a dentist and chemist named Dr. Washington Wentworth Sheffield.  The rest is history.  Marketing of toothpaste has become creative in order to sell brands, and with that more ingredients, with some having questionable benefits.

Fluoride Toothpaste versus Xylitol Toothpaste
click here for xylitol SLS free toothpaste with baking soda
One of the most controversial ingredients has been fluoride.  Some claim it causes allergies, while others take it to cancer.   Fluoride is safe and has been shown to help prevent tooth decay.  There is a warning on the back of all toothpaste with fluoride, which is mandated by the Food and Drug Administration.  It warns that if more than used for brushing is swallowed, to contact your nearest Poison Control Center immediately.  This can specially is dangerous for those with small children under the age of 4 years old, who have not learned to spit, and love to swallow the bubble gum flavored toothpaste.

The good news is xylitol is fast catching up as the safer alternative and is safe to swallow.  Studies are reporting that chewing xylitol gum three times a day for five minutes, can decrease tooth decay from 40 - 60 percent.  Xylitol is even safe for diabetics and derived from natural sources such as birch tree or corn.   

Xylitol has another important benefit: by promoting flow of saliva, it helps prevent dry mouth and therefore, gum disease. 

Is Natural Toothpaste Better?
Natural toothpaste brands are called natural because they usually contain several herbs or other so called natural ingredients.  These may include:
  • Echinacea 
  • Tea tree oil
  • Myrrh
  • Clove
  • Peppermint oil
  • Sea salt
  • Hydrogen peroxide
Here is the truth about these commonly used ingredients in "natural toothpaste":

Echinacea - best known as the cure for the common cold, echinacea has been reported to help relieve pain, enhance the immune system, reduce inflammation, and has hormonal and antiviral effects. It should not be taken by those who are on certain medications, including immunosuppressants, and antifungal agents.

Tea tree oil - this potent anti-fungal and antibiotic oil is best suited for athletes foot, toe nail fungus or other fungal infections.  It also contains 1,8-cineole, a skin irritant.  With frequent usage of a product with tea tree oil, dermatitis or mouth irritation may be the result.

Myrrh - derived from the sap of bark of trees, the essential oil of myrrh has been found to help inflammatory conditions, diarrhea, gum disease, and as a natural drug to treat pain.  It appears to be safe in small amounts.  With long term use, it can have side effects, including skin rash and kidney irritation if large doses are taken, such as 2-4 grams.  It may also make a fever worse and can affect blood glucose levels by lowering the blood sugar.  It also has been also shown to stimulate uterine bleeding.  It should not be used if you're on medications for diabetes and warfarin (coumadin), which slows blood clotting.  Taking myrrh can interfere with warfarin, and could increase the chance of blood clotting.
click here for safe to swallow toothpaste

Clove - also known as eugenal, clove is used commonly as a food flavoring agent.  It also has been used as a remedy for toothache, cough and inflammation of mouth or throat.  You should not use clove if you have a bleeding or blood clotting disorder.

Peppermint Oil - is attributed for helping variety of digestive problems, and colds, coughs and other conditions.  Possible side affects include: allergic reactions, mouth sores, and diarrhea.

Sea salt - as an ingredient in toothpaste, it may be too abrasive.  There are also concerns about too much salt for those with high blood pressure.  You do absorb ingredients in toothpaste, specially if you have bleeding gums.

Hydrogen Peroxide - commonly can be used temporarily for cold or canker sores in the mouth.  Long term use can cause sloughing of the delicate tissues of the mouth.

Alternative to Natural Toothpaste
click here for xylitol chewing gum
In order for toothpaste to be effective, it should:
  • Help neutralize harmful acids - baking soda is the best ingredient for this
  • Help prevent tooth decay - xylitol is showing promise towards this
  • Help stimulate flow of saliva - xylitol has been shown to promote saliva
Stay away from  toothpaste that claim to be natural, but contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).  This harsh detergent dries the tissues, which is not helpful for healthy gum tissue.  Harsh abrasives in many natural or commercial toothpaste can cause tooth sensitivity.

As you can see from the 'natural toothpaste' ingredients listed above, they are really drugs with side effects and drug interactions.  It's best to stay away from them as well.

Use a safe gentle toothpaste with baking soda and xylitol that is safe, even if a child accidentally swallows some. 



Click here for safe, natural toothpaste





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