Ever since I was pregnant with my first son, I realized that there were certain things I did not want to use on him… certain skincare and cosmetic products that I knew were supposedly bad. I didn’t really know why. I just knew that all the “crunchy” mamas out there gave certain things a big thumbs down.
Fluoride just so happened to be one of those things so of course I skipped it… on myself and on my children from that point on. It wasn’t until years later when I wrote this post on why fluoride is actually a big no-no that I had an answer to “why” we should avoid it.
During this time I had been buying different brands of natural toothpaste that didn’t contain fluoride for myself and my kids. One day I happened into the bathroom to find my then toddler sitting in the floor sucking on the toothpaste! He had somehow climbed up on something to reach it in the cabinet, managed to get the cap off, and proceeded to eat it because it was a yummy strawberry flavor. Oy! Kids!
That was the turning point for me. As I took the toothpaste from him, I wondered what exactly it was that he’d just eaten. It was a natural, fluoride free toothpaste, so it couldn’t be that bad, could it? As I read the ingredient list on the tube, I realized that even this natural toothpaste still contained some funky ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce, and I wondered what that was about.
Was it so complicated to make toothpaste? Did it really need all these special ingredients that I had no clue what they were for? Hadn’t people originally made their own toothpaste? They definitely didn’t contain all this stuff!
All these questions got me interested in looking into common toothpaste ingredients so that I’d know why I should avoid them with my family.
Today I wanna talk about some of the junky ingredients that you’ll find in many brands of store-bought children’s toothpaste so that you’ll know why we “crunchy” mamas say to avoid them and make your own instead.
Dangers of Children’s Toothpaste
I’m not going to go into all the details about why I chose to stay away from fluoride with my family. Basically, it’s because fluoride is toxic to the body, it’s a waste byproduct that was originally used as rat poison, and it’s thought to be more harmful than lead.
I’d also like to make a point here that most toothpastes contain water, and most water (at least here in the US) contains fluoride and other chemicals. Toothpastes don’t specify if the water used in them is distilled, reverse osmosis, or common city water, and even if it were common city water used, from my understanding, they wouldn’t need to list the ingredients in the water… like fluoride, chlorine, and other junk that’s no good for the body. Just something to think about, eh?
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a chemical that originates from coconuts, but it’s definitely not nutritious. It’s used as a surfactant, detergent, and emulsifier in many skincare products, and yes, it’s in toothpaste. It’s what gives toothpaste that sudsy, soapy, foamy characteristic most people are familiar with and expect in their toothpastes.
Dr. Mercola states that the real problem with SLS is in the manufacturing process where it is contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a known carcinogen, but the EWG Skin Deep database also shows that SLS can cause skin and mucosa irritation, organ toxicity, developmental or reproductive toxicity, nurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, ecotoxicology, and biochemical or cellular changes, as well as possible mutations and cancer. Oh yes, I definitely wanna slather that all over my and my child’s teeth!
From my research the main issue with SLS in toothpaste seems to be that it irritates the mucosa in the mouth to the point that it alters the skin’s structure, making it more susceptible to absorbing other chemicals and toxins found in the toothpaste itself.
No matter, SLS isn’t really necessary at all. I can do without the foam in my toothpaste just to steer clear of all of the above.
Most children’s toothpaste come with some form of artificial sweetener to make them taste good so kids will use them. Aspartame and saccharin are the two most common.
Both of these “sweeteners” have been shown in scientific studies to cause cancers in animals, but it’s debatable whether they cause cancer in humans as studies consistently reveal different findings.
Setting the “proof” of scientific studies aside, I personally steer clear of them as I’ve read too many things that shed a negative light on them, and this mama isn’t willing to risk her or her kids health on something not necessary.
Hydrated silica is found in many children’s toothpastes as it’s a mild abrasive made from a crystallized compound found in quartz, sand, and flint. It helps to scrub off the tartar found on teeth and whiten them, but in doing so has been shown to have a negative effect on the tooth enamel causing problems with remineralization.
As you know, remineralization of children’s teeth plays a huge role in tooth health and in preventing cavities. There’s a lot to understanding tooth health which I’m not going to get into here, but the book Cure Tooth Decay (book/kindle) is my absolute favorite on how amazing our teeth really are. Our teeth were designed to heal themselves and regenerate when damaged, but how we care for them will impact how well they can care for us.
Obviously, many children’s toothpastes are loaded with dyes (most commonly blue 1, blue 2, and red 40) in order to make them appealing to kids, but did you know most FD & C dyes are linked with many healthy problems like ADHD, severe allergic reactions, asthma attacks, headaches, nausea, fatigue, nervousness, lack of concentration, and cancer even! And besides the negative health associations, they’re also a synthesized petroleum based product… so that means your child’s toothpaste has crude oil in it.
Now some may argue that these dyes aren’t being swallowed, but it’s no surprise that our skin and the tissues in our mouth are very absorbent. This means that even if you child is brushing and spitting, these dyes and other chemicals may still be entering into their blood stream… especially if their toothpaste contains sodium lauryl sulfate in it.
Parabens are used in toothpastes (among other skincare products) as a preservative, and they’re thought to effect the endocrine system, disrupt hormones, and are even linked to cancer. BTW… how many carcinogenic products have I mentioned so far… all in children’s toothpaste?
The FDA continues to approve parabens in products because when they’re used in such small amounts they are relatively harmless, or so they say. But what happens when they’re in all of your products? How much is your body absorbing then? And how much worse is it for a child than an adult?
Just some questions to ponder.
Many store-bought toothpastes contain glycerin because it helps give toothpaste a nice, smooth texture so that it will squeeze out of the tube easily into that nice pretty strip on top of your toothbrush. Although this ingredient isn’t necessarily harmful to your body (it’s a great ingredient to use when making children’s herbal tinctures), it’s just that it’s not so good for teeth. Here’s why.
Glycerin has a tendency to coat the teeth when it’s brushed on, sealing them like a wax would, which prevents tooth remineralization. This can lead to decay over time as the teeth need to be able to absorb the minerals in our saliva which strengthens them. Supposedly, it takes 22 rinses to remove 1 use of glycerin from the teeth!
Things To Consider
A couple things I found interesting about glycerin is that one, it’s marked as a safe ingredient (with a score of “0”) by EWG’s Skin Deep, an organization that rates the safety of ingredients found in common cosmetics, and two, it can be animal sourced or vegetable source glycerin.
I’m assuming this safety rating is based on healthy safety, not whether it’s good for teeth health or not. So if you browse that site, and I highly recommend you do when looking for good, better, best brands, just be aware of the fact that you still need to look into the ingredients of products with “0” ratings. Just sayin’. And as far as the possibility of it being animal sourced glycerin, how do you know if it’s from clean, well cared for animals? I just have a feeling it’s not from organic, gmo-free ones, don’t you?
Making Your Own Toothpaste
People have long been making their own products. For crying out loud, that’s how all these big companies first came to be. Someone originally started making something with 5 little ingredients and it’s continued on from there, turning into much of the junk found in our stores today all for the sake of money and shelf preservation.
Seriously, do we have so little time that it’s better to compromise our health for the sake of driving to the store to get a tube of toothpaste when it’s so simple to make your own?
Here’s a post I wrote a while back on making your own coconut oil based toothpaste for yourself and your kids. We love it, but it’s not so squeezable when the weather gets cold. Be sure to come back Wednesday to get my newest DIY toothpaste recipe that’s remineralizing for your teeth… and no, this is different from the many other remineralizing homemade toothpastes you’ll find on the web. It uses a special herb and it’s so yummy!
A Natural Toothpaste for Kids That Gets the Growing Up Herbal Stamp of Approval
Now I’m not against buying toothpaste as long as they’re truly natural and good for my kids. Below is the only brand that I’ve found that really are good and my kids like… cuz I know we busy moms don’t always have time to make our own.
Concerned about lead in your bentonite clay? CLICK HERE to see what I have to say about that!
What are your thoughts on this? Are the ingredients in your kids toothpaste a big deal to you? What do you use to brush your kiddo’s teeth with? Share with me in the comments below!