Which Tooth­paste Is Healthy for You?

And in­gre­di­ents to be mind­ful of

Consumer Voice - - Contents - – Com­piled by Richa Pande

Brush­ing our teeth is a part of our daily rou­tine. It’s im­por­tant to main­tain den­tal hy­giene to be able to lead a healthy life. Since an­cient times, dif­fer­ent meth­ods have been in use across the globe to main­tain den­tal hy­giene. This in­cludes us­ing herbs, tree twigs and bizarre items such as burnt egg shells, pumice stone pow­ders and even crushed bones. The tooth­pastes and tooth pow­ders that we use to­day were com­mer­cialised in the 19th cen­tury.

Harm­ful In­gre­di­ents in Tooth­pastes

The va­ri­eties of tooth­paste avail­able to­day are mar­keted high­light­ing their re­spec­tive unique sell­ing propo­si­tions (USPs), whether it’s a so-called spe­cial in­gre­di­ent or a spe­cific pur­pose. Ex­am­ples: ‘salt in the tooth­paste’, ‘whiter teeth in four weeks’, ‘to­tally herbal’, ‘it is nat­u­ral’. These claims are tricky. Thus, be­fore mak­ing a pur­chase de­ci­sion, it is im­por­tant to care­fully check the in­gre­di­ents list at the back of the pack.

Here we have listed some of the harm­ful in­gre­di­ents found com­monly in tooth­pastes:


Tri­closan is a chem­i­cal that has an­tibac­te­rial and an­ti­fun­gal prop­er­ties. Tooth­pastes con­tain­ing

this chem­i­cal of­ten claim that it helps in pre­vent­ing plaques and gin­givi­tis. This claim is true but tri­closan is also as­so­ci­ated with con­cerns such as an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance and hor­monal dis­rup­tions (specif­i­cally oe­stro­gen and testos­terone). It has also been found to al­ter thy­roid hor­mone me­tab­o­lism.

Tri­closan is also known to cause al­lergy in some in­di­vid­u­als. Wor­ry­ingly, pro­longed use of tri­closan is as­so­ci­ated with de­vel­op­ment of tu­mors. Not only this, when tri­closan re­acts with the chlo­rine mol­e­cules pre­sent in chlo­ri­nated tap wa­ter, cer­tain com­pounds are cre­ated which re­act with UV rays and lead to for­ma­tion of diox­ins. Diox­ins them­selves are known to cause ad­verse ef­fects on health. This in­cludes im­paired im­mune func­tions, di­a­betes and thy­roid dis­or­ders. It is also known to get ac­cu­mu­lated in adi­pose tis­sues and cause dioxin tox­i­c­ity.

Sodium lau­ryl sul­fate (SLS)

Many tooth­pastes con­tain sodium lau­ryl sul­fate. It is com­monly used in tooth­pastes, sham­poos, shav­ing creams, bath for­mu­la­tions, floor clean­ers and soaps. SLS is also used as a food ad­di­tive. It is ac­tively used as an emul­si­fy­ing agent.

SLS is known to im­pact the taste buds pre­sent in the tongue by tem­po­rar­ily numb­ing the per­cep­tion of sweet­ness. This con­trib­utes to the bit­ter taste that we ex­pe­ri­ence if we eat some­thing af­ter brush­ing our teeth. SLS is known to cause canker sores and xe­ros­to­mia (dry mouth).


Flu­o­ride has been known to pre­vent the de­cay­ing of teeth. Brush­ing teeth with flu­o­ride tooth­paste aids in re-min­er­al­i­sa­tion of teeth’s enamel along with cal­cium and phosphates. That ex­plains its pres­ence in tooth­pastes.

Yet, there is also the fact that den­tal flu­o­ro­sis is a con­cern re­lated to flu­o­ride. It oc­curs due to ex­ces­sive con­sump­tion of flu­o­ride. Young chil­dren of­ten swal­low tooth­paste and this may lead to ex­cess of flu­o­ride in their sys­tem. Den­tal flu­o­ro­sis dis­colours the teeth. The stain­ing can range from white flecks to deep brown stains.

In­ter­est­ingly, there is some ev­i­dence that theo­bromine (which oc­curs nat­u­rally in na­ture and is a ca­cao ex­tract) is more ef­fec­tive in aid­ing rem­iner­al­i­sa­tion.

Ex­cess of flu­o­ride has toxic ef­fects on many tis­sues: teeth, bones and the thy­roid gland.

Propy­lene gly­col

Propy­lene gly­col is used in many cos­metic prod­ucts in­clud­ing tooth­pastes. It can cause al­ler­gic re­ac­tions in some in­di­vid­u­als. Propy­lene-gly­col al­lergy is likely to af­fect peo­ple with vi­ta­min D de­fi­ciency or those with fun­gal in­fec­tions. Af­fected in­di­vid­u­als ex­pe­ri­ence ex­treme dry­ness in the fa­cial area.

Propy­lene gly­col is also known to af­fect the en­vi­ron­ment ad­versely. It re­quires oxy­gen for its degra­da­tion. This af­fects aquatic life ad­versely. There­fore, dis­solved oxy­gen is needed to be ad­min­is­tered in wa­ter that con­tains propy­lene gly­col. This aids in mi­cro­bial de­com­po­si­tion of propy­lene gly­col.

How to Pick a Tooth­paste that Is Free from Harm­ful In­gre­di­ents?

Care­fully check the in­gre­di­ents list while pick­ing a tooth­paste from the mar­ket. Avoid the in­gre­di­ents men­tioned above or choose a paste that has min­i­mum amounts of these in­gre­di­ents. If you are shop­ping a tooth­paste for your kid, check the di­rec­tions care­fully.

Make a den­tal-hy­giene paste at home

Add a few drops of lemon or pep­per­mint oil in a tea­spoon of baking soda. Then add wa­ter to it. This paste can be used daily to brush teeth.

For kids, avoid buy­ing tooth­pastes con­tain­ing flu­o­ride. Also, if it has a bright fun colour, skip it. It in­di­cates the pres­ence of syn­thetic dyes (mostly de­rived from petroleum and coal tar) and these can ac­cu­mu­late over time in the body.

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