Health-conscious shoppers may notice natural toothpaste options when shopping for oral care supplies. Do natural toothpastes provide greater health benefits than traditional toothpaste options? Will consumers still receive the same results using this form of oral care?
Artificial Sweetener Replacement
Traditional toothpastes have a number of ingredients that natural products eliminate. First, artificial sweeteners like saccharin are normally excluded. Saccharin is added to toothpaste to mask the otherwise bitter taste of the product. In the early 1970s, lab rat experiments linked saccharin consumption to bladder cancer development. Since that initial discovery, follow-up testing has not offered conclusive evidence linking saccharin to cancer, but many consumers avoid the substance regardless.
Natural toothpastes commonly substitute xylitol as a sweetening agent, a substance that naturally occurs in many fruits and vegetables and is extracted from corn or birch trees for use in toothpaste.
No Carcinogenic Byproducts
Many toothpaste products contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a foaming property used in a multitude of personal care products. This ingredient facilitates the distribution of the product and an effective reaction between the substance and the surface to which it is applied. SLS and cancer are not linked, but the additive has been known to cause skin irritation, especially when used in excess amounts in products such as shampoo. If any health risks are posed by toothpaste containing SLS, it’s not necessarily due to the substance itself, but the manufacturing process used to lessen the irritating side effects: ethoxylation. This process may contaminate SLS with a byproduct called 1,4-dioxane. The Environmental Protection Agency rates 1,4-dioxane as a probable carcinogenic for humans.
Natural toothpastes may still use SLS as a key cleaning surfactant, but the substance is extracted from coconut oil rather than petroleum, and the 1,4-dioxane is removed from the product. Some natural toothpastes may also substitute glycyrrhizin, a property derived from licorice root, in place of SLS.
American Dental Association Seal
Toothpastes are not allowed on the market unless approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. While the FDA sets standards for all toothpaste products, the American Dental Association is the organization that conducts tests to measure a product’s compliance. The ADA only issues their official seal to products that pass rigorous testing with conclusive, verified results. For the best oral care, only purchase toothpastes, natural or otherwise, that display the ADA brand and have proven safe for consumer consumption with confirmed positive outcomes. The health effects of natural versus traditional toothpaste brands have not been studied, but it will not hurt consumers to explore natural options if they so desire, as long as the product achieves ADA approval and shows it works as an effective oral care cleaner.
Oral Care Basics
Regardless of the toothpaste brand chosen, the ADA recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time, using a pea-sized drop of an approved toothpaste product. Floss once a day to remove plaque and built-up bacteria. Maintain good overall health through the consumption of a balanced diet with sufficient nutrients and schedule regular oral checkups to spot dental problems before they escalate.
Consult with the staff at Oak Hills Dentistry for a professional opinion on whether natural toothpaste is a wise purchasing decision for your personal oral care.