Oral Care, Health & the Planet. How are they Connected!
From an early age we are taught the importance of good Oral Hygiene. brush and floss at least twice per day at a minimum. Sugar is bad! Visit the Dentist every 6 months. The maxims and rules are many, and there have been numerous studies that relate how a healthy mouth and teeth are connected to so many other aspects of our health.
None of that is in dispute, however, how often do you consider the effects that the products we use themselves have on our bodies and the ecosystem which we live in. Basically, we are not saying that brushing your teeth is bad, quite the opposite. WHAT you are brushing (flossing, rinsing, etc.) them with might be an issue!
In this article today, we will attempt to identify some ingredients to avoid and practices to change in order to help create a healthier, more planet friendly routine when you take care of your Pearly Whites!
People have been railing against "artificial ingredients" for decades now. But why? Is it just some romantic idea that if it's natural, it's better for you? Turns out , no. Although we share the belief that if it's natural, from the Earth, it's probably better for you, there is hard scientific data behind ill effects of artificial ingredients.
The more the effects of these ingredients are studied and known, the worse a picture it paints. Let's look at some common synthetic ingredients used in commercially produced toothpastes and other oral care products:
A synthetic anti-microbial agent used in many popular toothpaste and consumer product brands as an anti-bacterial. The chemical was labeled as a Pesticide and regulated by the F.D.A. (in 1969). In the ensuing years, it has been banned by many states, but still remains in use in toothpastes and other self care and beauty products.
Triclosan has been linked to conditions such as cancer, birth defects, endocrine problems, and helping to breed more anti-biotic resistant organisms. Studies have shown it can alter hormone regulation in animals.
The substance can enter the body more quickly through the membrane in the oral cavity (the same way that Hemp Extracts are absorbed when taken by tincture). This introduces them to the systems of the body faster than if it was swallowed, and with less filtration.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
This chemical is a surfactant (causes the foaming of the product).
It is believed by the American Chemical Society that SLS reduces function in the taste buds, enhancing bitter tastes. If you suffer from frequent canker sores in the mouth, you should be aware that studies show using SLS free toothpaste can reduce the occurrence of sores by as much as 81%. It also produces carcinogenic compounds during manufacture.
The use of SLS has been linked to skin problems. SLS making your skin tissues more permeable (thinner) and more subject to irritation as well as making it easier to absorb other harmful substances into the bloodstream. Studies conducted in Germany found 42% of 1600 participants had some form of irritation. Another study found that warmer water temperatures worsened the effect of the irritation.
If you ae looking for a toothpaste that has a pleasing appearance (pearly white, minty green, red, etc.) then you might find and purchase one which uses some kind of artificial colorant to give it that appearance. Unfortunately. studies have linked these synthetic chemicals to ADHD in children.
Titanium Dioxide (TiO2)
This substance is used as a pigment. Generally, it is used as a pigment for paints (about 70%), but it is also used in cosmetics, toothpastes, pharmaceuticals, paper, and foods.
TiO2 is classified as a Group 2B (meaning "possibly carcinogenic to humans") by The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Although unclear what the total effects of this chemical are on humans, research suggests that there is cause for concern. Especially since this compound is present in a great many consumer products we use or ingest daily.
This is a synthetic liquid which absorbs water and is used in chemicals, food, and drugs as an "antifreeze" where leakage might lead to contact with products. The F.D.A. classifies it as "generally recognized as safe." However, this "generally safe" liquid is also used to make polyester compounds and as a base for deicers.
Exposure, especially frequently, can cause skin irritation. It also causes the skin to become more permeable, which allows faster access for other harmful chemicals to reach the bloodstream.
One ingredient that you may be familiar with already is Fluoride. Nearly every commercially available Dental Product on the market contains it, and you are likely treated with it by your Dental Hygienist semi-annually during your check up.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring compound, normally, but the Fluoride used commercially is likely a byproduct of phosphate fertilizers and not the naturally occurring type.