Clean Your Teeth the Non-Toxic Way
In the last two weeks I have been asked the same question multiple times, which prompted me to think.
As a sommelier and an eternal somm student, I do a lot of wine tastings. In addition to that, I have a particular love for highly pigmented wines (Nebbiolo, Shiraz, Sangiovese…) So logic would say, that my teeth should have a regal purple hue- fortunately they do not!
That brings me to the question that I have been posed- “how do you keep you teeth so white; do you use white strips or get them professionally whitened?” My answer was simply- “huh?”
Honestly, I have never actually considered using harsh chemicals on my teeth. Why would I want to bleach my teeth, I don’t even use bleach in my house or in my laundry! I am steadfast in my philosophy, that it is just as important to consider the chemicals that you expose yourself to and put on your body as in your body. So, I take a natural, non-toxic approach- baking soda toothpaste. I have always been very selective when buying toothpaste and mouthwashes.
Take a look at the ingredients list on your toothpaste- many on the market contain some nasty and potentially harmful ingredients. I’m not saying you should stop brushing your teeth or give up on toothpaste- but you should start reading the labels. At a minimum, memorize these three ingredients and keep them out of your medicine cabinet for worry-free brushing.
Triclosan is an antiseptic additive that’s sometimes used in toothpaste to help prevent gingivitis. While the FDA banned its use in antibacterial soaps, it’s still approved for use in dental products… But the anti-triclosan case has been growing steadily. It’s an endocrine disruptor, similar to BPA. One study by the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, found links between triclosan and liver fibrosis and cancer in mice. Again if it isn’t safe to put on your hands (ps it is still in many of those anti-bac gel sanitizers, which you should be avoiding for many reasons in addition to Triclosan), then why in the world would you want to put it in your mouth?
Less than a millimeter thick, these tiny plastic beads are added to some toothpastes for better scrubbing power. The good news is that they are non-toxic and will pass right through you, delicious. The problem occurs when they enter the water system (they are too tiny to be captured by wastewater treatment plants). There, they bind with toxins, like pesticide chemicals, and are ingested by fish and other marine life, which are in turn eaten by animals higher up the food chain, like us (awesome, so we are re-consuming something that has already passed through our systems as waste…). A manufacturing ban for rinse-off products containing microbeads went into effect in July 2017, but they are still on the shelves and in some toothpaste products, so check the labels for polyethylene and polystyrene, then steer clear.
FD&C Blue 1
There’s no way that cool aqua hue in your toothpaste occurs naturally- do you really need to give your kids glittery pink or blue gel in order to get them to brush their teeth? The EWG says that FD&C Blue 1 is a sythentic dye produced from petroleum, which can accumulate in the body over time. Scientists haven’t difinitively proven what risks this particular colorant poses, but there is a lot of evidence that food dyes in general are linked to allergies, ADHD, and cancer. Seek out products dyed naturally if at all.
I know, you remember being told your entire life that you need fluoride for strong, cavity-free teeth. Then you started having fluoride treatments at the dentist’s office, brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, and guess what, the water you drink is fluoridated… ever heard of fluoride poisoning, or seen white marks on your teeth or worse you kid’s teeth? Yep that is too much fluoride. Flouride is important, however too much fluoride is not good and may dental fluorosis, skeletal fluorosis, thyroid problems, reproductive issues (such as fertility problems and early puberty in girls), high blood pressure, and ADHD. There is so much evidence out there to support this check out Medical News Today for more into. Talk to your dentist about fluoride treatments and make the decision that it right for you, but avoid it in your toothpaste!
Skip the harsh bleaches in professional or over the counter teeth whiteners for these safe and effective methods:
Banana peels contain a lot of potassium, magnesium and manganese, all of which help remove stains from teeth. Choose a perfectly ripe, organic banana (not green and no brown spots) and cut a small rectangle out of the peel. Once a week, rub the inside of a peel over your teeth for about 2 minutes and then brush like usual. It really works!
Coconut Oil is an antibacterial that’s been shown to reduce gingivitis-causing plaque, which leads to whiter teeth. You can use about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil like a mouthwash, a technique called oil pulling. Simply swish organic cold-pressed coconut oil around your mouth for at least 5 minutes each morning.
Natural Toothpastes with Whitening
There are some great products on the market out there if you are looking for something quick and easy. Brands to try that we like and are accessible almost anywhere (like Amazon):
Tom’s of Maine Anti-plaque and Whitening Fluoride-free toothpaste- triple action toothpaste uses certified organic aloe vera with a blend of natural whiteners such as silica (natural whitener), CO-Q10 (for healthy gums), peppermint (natural flavor), horse chestnut (for healthy gums), tea tree oil (cleansing and antiseptic), and menthol (natural flavor). This paste is fluoride- and sodium lauryl sulfate- free, and our family favorite.
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps Toothpaste- is great if you’re looking for a vegan, fluoride-free, non-GMO paste. Made with 70 organic ingredients including Fair Trade and organic coconut flour and coconut oil which aid as a mild abrasive.
Kiss My Face Gel Teeth Whitening Toothpaste- triple action toothpaste uses certified organic aloe vera with a blend of natural whiteners such as silica (natural whitener), CO-Q10 (for healthy gums), peppermint (natural flavor), horse chestnut (for healthy gums), tea tree oil (cleansing and antiseptic), and menthol (natural flavor). This paste is fluoride and sodium lauryl sulfate free.
Waleda Natural Salts Toothpaste- is made with a combination of baking soda and salt. It also contains Blackthorn flower extract to purify and strengthens the gums, myrrh extract and organic ratanhia, which are healthcare secrets from ancient cultures that naturally clean and tone with astringent and anti-inflammatory properties.
Jason Sea Fresh Toothpaste- is formulated with blue green algae, rich in calcium, proteins, and antioxidants. This paste is made with no preservatives, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, saccharin, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl, or laureth sulfates.
DIY Herbal Mouthwash
Many store-bought mouthwashes contain alcohol, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners (like saccharin), and preservatives (like sodium benzoate) that you might want to avoid. Fortunately, making your own is as simple as mixing a pleasant-tasting, bacterial-killing essential oil into water. Try this recipe from integrative medicine expert Tieraona Low Dog, author of Life is Your Best Medicine.
To make a single batch, mix 1 drop lemongrass or thyme essential oil into ¼ cup water and shake vigorously. You can store a larger quantity for up to 4 weeks.
Lemongrass has been shown to break up dental plaque and can be used to treat gum disease, and thyme is a powerhouse anti-septic. It contains thymol, a plant compound that also boasts anti-bacterial and antifungal properties. Other fresh-tasting choices include peppermint and spearmint oils.