Toothpaste

Trying to regain control over your health is a bit of a double edged sword some of the time.  The more information I assimilate, the more I want to just shake my head in despair.

Take toothpaste.  I started using a remineralising powder last year, mainly because of my concerns over the crap they put in most commercially-available toothpaste which do (quite frankly) next to bugger all to help your teeth.  Take one of the leading brands in the UK.  They’re marketing a variety which is supposed to “help reverse early damage” and claims to remineralise, amongst many other claims.  So let’s have a look at the list of ingredients shall we?

Aqua (obviously water)

Glycerin
Commonly believed to leave a thin film on the teeth which actually *prevents* the natural remineralising process.  It can remain on the teeth for days after brushing with a commercial toothpaste.

Hydrated Silica
When it’s combined in calcium carbonate it helps to remove plaque.  No calcium carbonate listed in these ingredients though.

Triclosan
This is a chemical used for its antibacterial properties and is used in a wide variety of detergents and disinfectants.  There has been quite a bit of debate about this substance as the FDA has it under investigation.  It seems that the initial evidence provided to prove that it was “safe” may have been slanted by the company providing the information (no great surprise there eh folks?)

It can also combine with the chlorine in your tap water to form chloroform amongst other compounds.  Um.  Don’t most folks use water when you brush your teeth?  Didn’t anyone think this may be a problem?

PVM/MA Copolymer
Used as a binder or water fixative.  It apparently helps to make the triclosan stick to your tissues better.  What’s wrong with using something slightly more natural like coconut oil eh?

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
This substance is added to lots of “cleansing” products to make them “foam”.  It’s actually pretty damned corrosive – if you leave neat SLS on your skin for a short amount of time, it’ll burn.  It’s added to pretty much most personal hygiene cleaning products and whilst creating a nice foamy texture, it’s stripping away your skin’s natural protection.

Aroma
Bit of a generic label.  One can only assume that it’s nothing onerous!

Cellulose Gum
Yet another thickener.  Opinion seems to be all over the place regarding whether it’s safe or not, but I think I’d rather not have something that’s derived from wood pulp or cotton lint being pasted around my mouth.

Sodium Hydroxide
Also used in a lot of other cleansing products.  From a personal perspective, I would question the validity of adding caustic soda into a product that’s used in the mouth, even if they do say that it’s supposed to neutralize the pH of the other ingredients.

Carrageenan
This has had almost as much bad press as aspartame, although it seems it’s not quite as controversial.  Chris Kresser has written an article on it, which can be found here

Sodium Saccharin
Artificial sweetener to mask the bitter flavours of the other ingredients.  Why not just add something natural?  Green stevia drops would do the job just as well.

Sodium Fluoride
Fluoride is one of the more controversial ingredients in toothpaste. In the US, fluoride-containing toothpastes now come with the following warning: “Keep out of reach of children aged 6 and under. If more than is used for normal brushing is swallowed, contact your physician or local poison control center”.  In addition, fluoride can interfere with the uptake of thyroid hormones, perhaps another reason that thyroid disease is on the increase?

Limonene
There has been a fair amount of controversy on this ingredient too.  It’s used to provide a citrus scent or taste in a variety of products, including air fresheners and scented candles.  It’s used in pharmaceuticals to assist ointments and creams penetrate the skin.  To me that makes it corrosive, which is not something I want to brush onto my teeth.

Whereas Limonene itself isn’t an issue, it does react with ozone to produce formaldehyde, which is a bit of an issue as far as I’m concerned.

CI 77891
Colouring.  Colouring FFS.  Titanium oxide.  Why?

All in all, it seems to me that the inclusion of most of these ingredients is questionable as is the claim to help remineralisation.  This particular brand is not on its own – I’ve looked at the list of ingredients on many toothpastes which also claim to repair and/or remineralise and they have just as many chemicals and nasties as the one shown above.

There has been quite a bit of research lately into the remineralisation of teeth.  I’ve had problems with my teeth since the age of 10 when I had my first major run in with the dentist, resulting in 8 fillings, one extraction and a gold crown.  Yes, I was 10 years old.

Now the only teeth are all mine are five in the bottom row at the front.  The rest are capped, crowned or filled to the brim.  I’ve had three dental abscesses and the same number of extractions in adulthood.  When my dentist told me five months ago that there was another tooth scheduled to be extracted as it was beyond repair, I decided that it was time to look at a different way to look after my teeth.  I did a lot of reading and research and finally bought a jar of organic remineralising tooth powder which contains Calcium Bentonite Clay Powder, Calcium Carbonate, White Kaolin Powder, Peppermint, Myrrh, Pink Salt Cloves and Cinnamon.  It wasn’t the cheapest at nearly £9 a jar, but I’ve been using it twice a day for six months and have barely made a dent in it so it goes a long way.  There are plenty of recipes online to make your own toothpaste but, quite honestly, it was easier to buy the jar!

Since using it, my teeth look and feel *much* cleaner and I can see they’re whitening naturally (one of my crowns was substantially whiter than the rest of my teeth and now looks rather grey).  Some of my teeth were almost translucent but they are now also whitening and looking healthier.  Sadly the tooth earmarked for extraction has proved to be beyond help and the shell of it is due to be extracted shortly.

After all this rambling and ranting, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m thoroughly pissed off with most of the products that I’ve been using for years gradually having more and more chemicals and additives shoved in them for the sake of being much improved / bigger / better / whiter / brighter [delete as appropriate].  I’m tired of having to read every single frigging label on every product that I buy or having to spend hours of my time researching where the hell I can buy or make less chemically laden products.  It almost feels as though we’ve all sleepwalked into being poisoned by our environment and the products we use every day.  I’m really really tired of it.

Thanks for reading.  I just needed to vent.

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