If you truly consider the products you interact with on a daily basis, and how often, oral hygiene items top the list of “most frequent in a day” (or should – no judgment here…). They also top the list of most likely to be absorbed. Why? Because that’s what your mouth is designed to do! It’s the first stop on the digestion train, alerting your brain to what’s incoming so your body can gear up for proper digestion. So why would you want to put anything in your mouth that could be toxic?
And here we come back to our good ol’ friend “better living through science” mass production (see my other handy posts on personal care products linked at the bottom). This villain is around every single corner in our personal care routines, silently wreaking havoc on our bodies, all the while we’re stumped as to why our health is tanking or not improving in line with the changes we’ve made in our dietary habits and lifestyle choices. Meanwhile, “better living through science” mass producers would have us think we’re just getting old… Trust me it’s not that.
In our journey to Evolve at Home, Dr. Jason and I have tried so many different brands and types of mouth stuff it would make your head spin. To spare you from that tilt-o-whirl, I’ll go over what ingredients to stay away from, what to look for (reading glasses, y’all), and highlight our favorites.
Toothpaste is a big culprit for these chemical substances that in no other time on earth were required to “clean” anything, much less our teeth. Go ahead and toss in the mouthwash [that you know is working because it burns like hell and is a fluorescent color] on the most wanted list for chemical substances.
Here is a list of things to avoid from behuppy.com’s blog on the topic. I’ve abbreviated the explanations so please hop on over there for referenced research articles and more information on what harm these ingredients [potentially] cause:
Alcohol - Gets rid of all bacteria, which is not good for your body’s ecosystem.
Artificial coloring - Titanium dioxide is one such artificial colorant meant to make toothpaste more visually pleasing, but it’s certainly not the only one used.
Artificial sweeteners – Such as sorbitol, saccharin, aspartame, and xylitol. While xylitol is safe for humans (but not safe for pets!), sorbitol, saccharin, and aspartame are problematic ingredients.
Carrageenan - An additive that is used as a thickening agent and can cause inflammatory skin conditions like acne, intestinal issues, colon ulcerations, and cancer.
Cocamidopropyl betaine - An emulsifier and thickener that may cause sensitization upon skin contact and is thought to be an eco-toxin.
Diethanolamine (DEA) - Creates a greater foaming effect, diethanolamine (DEA) is a hormone disrupter.
Parabens - Preservatives that keep toothpaste fresher for longer, meaning that they can sit on the shelves longer without expiring.
Perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS) – In certain dental floss brands, could cause cardiovascular disease and cancer. FHxS is a part of a larger class of chemicals known as PFAS, which cause liver damage, environmental damage, cancer, and developmental issues. The ingredient in question is actually fluorine.
Propylene Glycol - Used as a detergent, emulsifier, or foaming agent.
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) – Used as a detergent and makes your toothpaste foamy, it also lives a double life as a popular insecticide. It can eventually lead to canker sores and other irritations and inflammation, and it strips the mouth of its natural lining.
And Drum Roll for the Most Controversial Topic (my dentist and I have agreed to disagree):
Fluoride - While heralded for its cavity and tooth decay prevention properties, fluoride is a chemical additive that comes with an acute toxicity warning from the Food and Drug Administration.
So… why do we need foaming agents, thickeners, artificial sweeteners/flavors, alcohols, fluoride, emulsifiers, detergents, preservatives, and artificial colors to aid us in the quest for ultimate oral hygiene that your dentist can be proud of? It makes no sense to me and [in my humble opinion] that laundry list of toxic ingredients should be enough to send everyone to their bathroom (or wherever) to throw away that science experiment called toothpaste (and mouthwash… and floss – I’m still processing that one).
ARGH! What Should I Buy?
Take a deeeeeep breath and head on over my favorite grocery store aisle, the Hippy aisle, or your favorite online retailer, to find something with [actual] natural ingredients. Just a note: if your toothpaste foams – at all – it’s got a foaming ingredient in it. If you buy a “natural” brand, it’s likely a coconut based lauryl sulfate. It’s still a foaming agent and completely unnecessary! Put it down, and move on over to the next one. Your mouth will thank you.
Look for ingredients like:
Calcium carbonate - abrasive for cleaning
Sodium bicarbonate - increases pH of the mouth
Sea salt/Mineral salt- gentle abrasive for cleaning
Essential oils - provides both flavor and positive benefits of the oil
Bentonite clay - minerals and abrasive for cleaning
Colloidal silver - anti-bacterial that works with your body
Minerals - likely not needed if Bentonite clay is used but can be added to fortify toothpaste or is a good additive for mouthwashes
Activated charcoal - aids in whitening and removing stains
Coconut oil - reduces microorganisms associated with tooth decay and can help with removing stains
Xylitol - may be an anti-cavity agent but is toxic to pets and can cause digestive upset
Put your reading glasses on (if you need them) and get comfortable in the Hippy aisle or wherever you like to shop. You may have to go through a lot of labels before you find your winner-winner chicken dinner toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, or whatever you’re going to put into your mouth to scrub with or gargle (swish?) in there for any amount of time.
Also, did you catch that FLOSS is now hiding potentially toxic things? [insert frustrated emoji here] Read, read, read.
What We Use
Our current favorite is Uncle Harry’s. We use the tooth powder, mouthwash, and remineralization liquid. Full disclosure: Uncle Harry’s products challenge one’s mental and physical fortitude. Never have I experienced such intense mint in all my life, but the ingredients are totally worth the essential oil intensity. For those who have allergies, they do have mint-free offerings. I just like to feel the burn!
Other toothpaste we’ve used and loved:
While it’s not a long list of products, we kissed quite a few frogs masquerading as “natural” toothpastes, all in the name of Evolving at Home, and, unbeknownst to me over the years, so I could help you all on this journey. :)
I have also made tooth powder concoctions over the years. You can find a myriad of blogs about how to make the ultimate tooth powder to fit your needs – just hit up your favorite search engine (might I suggest something other than Google?). Also, it’s relatively easy to source the ingredients to make your own nowadays. So happy making, if you're inclined, and please share your favorite recipes in the comments!
And apparently floss is now harboring toxic ingredients, so I’ll cover that…
We’ve just switched (unrelated to ingredients issues) to a no-waste type of spool that you put into a reusable dispenser. The floss we use is made from bamboo charcoal fiber, candelilla wax, and peppermint essential oil. It did take a bit of getting used to as it is slightly thicker than the store brand we were using, but there are several different types of natural floss in varying thicknesses. Head on over to to the grocery store Hippy aisle, Amazon, or wherever to find out what interests you.
Please share any of your [actually] natural mouth care products in the comments! I know I haven't found them all... yet. ;)
A [Huge] Caveat
A diet poor in bioavailable minerals and nutrients and high in inflammatory items such as sugars, seed oils, and grains, can cause sore, swollen gums (aka gingivitis) as well as cavities and enamel loss like nobody’s business. No amount of brushing, flossing, or gurgling (swishing?) with the most natural, wonderful ingredients from the Earth products will save your teeth and gums from eventual ruin if you’re not giving your body the tools to maintain itself and, as a result, your health.
SO! What to do!? You have to clean up your diet if you want to be healthy and to have healthy-looking anything on your body. Hair, skin, nails, teeth, odors, you name it. Your diet will directly affect your health and your health is reflected outwardly on your body and in your mouth.
Cue Reader’s Internal Monologue: “Well, okay, what’s a clean diet, Jenna?”
That minefield is far and wide, folks. One day I might weigh in on the topic, but for now suffice to say: If you can’t make it in your kitchen, ingredient for ingredient (see I caught you about to say well I can make Ding Dongs in my kitchen, Jenna), using reasonably available kitchen equipment and knowledge, don’t eat it.
The “food” industry has given us delightful substances masquerading as food that can never be reproduced in nature. They are devoid of nutrients and and will never trigger a satiety signal in your body. That’s why you can eat an entire family sized bag of chemically laden, artificial everything corn tortilla chips in your favorite artificial flavor, enhanced by monosodium glutamate, and still feel hungry.
Focus on real foods from the Earth. Drink good, clean water. (How many ounces have you had today?) Make sure your electrolytes are right. Go check out this wise woman’s essay on food called, “To Be Nourished,” and stay to read all her others. Sign up for her newsletters so you can read them “hot off the press.” Her writing is nourishment for the soul.
Finding nontoxic shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorants (blog post coming soon!), lotion, toothpaste, mouthwash, floss (!?... Still cannot get my head around that one…), etc. is an exercise in personal diligence and responsibility. As always, remember to give yourself time and grace on your journey to Evolve at Home. Trust me, I could fill pages with the wrong turns and “oh that didn’t work” experiences Dr. Jason and I have had over the years. Just keep chipping away. You’ll get there.
Want to take the next step in your personal evolution? Book your consultation today.
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Disclaimer: the information provided in this blog is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure any illness, or provide a second opinion or alter a current treatment plan. If you have a medical concern, please contact your healthcare professional. Please see our full blog disclaimer here.