Back in high school–at that stage in life when every girl wants to be liked and get compliments from boys in her class–I was told (via the grapevine, of course) that a particular boy said I had nice teeth. Uh, thanks? It’s not really the type of praise my 14 year old self was looking for (unless it was coming from my dentist), but now many years later I can appreciate the compliment. I was lucky never to have braces, only a few fillings, and overall good dental hygiene.
When I first began purging personal care products to make way for natural alternatives, toothpaste (I am guilty to admit) was low on my list. Now, I recommend toothpaste as one of the FIRST products to switch out because of its direct contact with the mouth.
What you need to know:
Toothpaste is not necessary to clean your teeth. . . crazy, right? I know it kind of blew my mind when I first learned about this. For years I had heard toothpaste companies touting their products as if they were our only saving grace from cavities and tooth decay. In reality it is the brushing motion and activities like flossing that really clean away food particles and plaque buildup. The toothpaste is just a ‘nice-to-have’ for freshening breath.
So are chemicals like triclosan and propylene glycol, synthetic dyes, preservatives, and sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) really necessary for the job of a breath mint? I will admit switching to a natural toothpaste, like my favourite Green Beaver, was a bit of an adjustment; mostly because without the SLS it doesn’t foam. But now I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s like if you have ever given up sugar and then down the road eat jelly beans, the sweetness is unbearable.
DISCLAIMER: There is a good chance that if you go natural, you dental hygiene will ACTUALLY improve! That’s right, I said it. Switching my toothpaste made me take better care of my teeth for three reasons: one, I was paranoid at first that I was sabotaging my dental hygiene for the sake of non-toxic products and so I started flossing religiously; two, without the coating sensation of foam artificially making my mouth feel clean, I brush more; three, I introduced new cleaning habits. I started tongue scraping which sounds kind of gross (and is a bit gross) but is really effective to eliminate bacteria from your tongue which is a cause of most bad breath. I also started oil pulling, which is an age- old Ayurvedic practice that has been used for many reasons (I will get into those at another time). By swishing 1Tbs of coconut oil in my mouth for 10- 20 minutes in the morning (not as cumbersome as it sounds) the naturally anti-microbial oil binds to bacteria and plaque with the help of saliva enzymes–all of which I spit out (in the garbage, never down the drain!). Bonus: it assists in whitening my teeth. . . but teeth whitening is a whole other topic for another day.
You may have noticed that I have not mentioned fluoride. I always respectfully bow out of this discussion because frankly the jury is still out on its affect to our bodies. I like to allow people to make their own decision (but if you want to know more about the fluoride debate, you can read here). If you ultimately decide that you do not want to forego fluoride in your toothpaste there are certain natural brands that include it in their formulas.
All in all I’m happy, my dentist is happy, and (as far as I know) my friends are happy with my dental hygiene.