Watch Your Mouth

October 21, 2008

You've heard me delve into my reasons for using organic skincare, organic hair care and even organic cosmetics. So now it's time to talk about toothpaste. Brushing your teeth may not be the most scintillating or exotic thing you'll do all day. But it's definitely one of the most important. I mean for as far back as your memory will reach you can probably remember someone telling you to brush your teeth (whether it's your parents, dentist or perfectly coiffed lady in a commercial). But although conventional toothpastes will scrub your teeth clean, they'll also give you something else-dyes, detergents, sweeteners, abrasives and preservatives.

In our society's never ending search for a blindingly white, completely unnatural looking smile, our toothpaste options have gotten more and more extreme. And although I'm all for clean, healthy, stain-free teeth, I'd rather get results from natural ingredients that I know are safe to ingest. After all, even if you don't swallow it, you know some of it's getting down your throat. Plus your mouth will absorb a lot of what you put in it-even in just the two minutes you're taking to brush your teeth. After being absorbed, the ingredients seep into your blood stream. So all of those chemicals aren't exiting the mouth when you spit, rinse and spit some more.

So what's in these products that are potentially harmful? Well there are the usual suspects like preservatives, fake dyes and artificial flavors. Lauryl sulfate, also found in shampoo, gives toothpaste its foam. It's been linked to several different health problems including irritation, hormonal imbalance and possibly an increased risk of cancer. Plus, it's the same ingredient used at car washes to degrease engines. Do you really want something that strong and potent swishing around your mouth?

Then there's the sugar. Just think, we're brushing our teeth to prevent cavities with a toothpaste loaded with the same ingredient that causes them. How silly is that? Instead, natural varieties use pure botanical extracts and oils, which are healthier. And as a bonus, organic toothpastes aren't overly sweet like their conventional counterparts. In fact, many aren't sweet at all. If you're used to a really sweet toothpaste, it may take awhile for your taste buds to adapt to one that's not sugary. But after awhile, you'll prefer the natural kind. And in fact, you'll probably cringe if you have to go back to using your old toothpaste.

Then there's the great fluoride debate. Some people think it's a necessary additive to prevent cavities. Others stand by the belief that it's an unnecessary toxin and pollutant. In fact, if too much is used on an infant or young child it can permanently discolor teeth. Still many dentists still recommend that children get a little bit of extra fluoride. However most holistic dentists shun the use of fluoride in favor of natural products. And most organic toothpastes contain no added fluoride at all.

WalaVita (in the Dr.Hauschka family) makes a couple of amazing organic toothpastes that are hard to find in the US, but offered here on Saffron Rouge. Both BDIH certified formulas are free of added fluorides and synthetic colors, fragrances and preservatives. The holistic formulas were created with the help of experienced dentists with medicinal herbs cultivated from certified organic and biodynamic farms. Their Neem & Mint Toothpaste strengthens and refreshes while soothing gums with China clay, Peppermint, Neem, Clove and Chamomile. And the Lemon & Salt Toothpaste stimulates and deep cleans with eco-certified Sea Salt, Sage, Thyme and Lemon.  (And if you need any more convincing, WalaVita's sister company is Dr.Hauschka whose parent company is Wala. So you know the ingredients are top quality and the formulas amazing.)

The other brand I recommend is Weleda. Their flavors are yummy, the ingredients spectacular and the results are smile-worthy. With four adult options and a kid-friendly children's version, there's one for every dental need. Their Plant Gel Toothpaste has a yummy scent that refreshingly combines mint and lemon. And it's really gentle on sensitive gums and teeth while cleaning. The mint-free Calendula Toothpaste is the newest to Weleda's toothpaste range and cleans with a soothing Calendula and calcium base while invigorating your senses with a natural licorice and fennel flavor. The Salt Toothpaste reduces tarter and polishes teeth. Then there's the Pink Toothpaste, which freshens breath with real mint and contains essential oils to tone and invigorate. It's great for your whole family-kids too. And finally the Children's Tooth Gel has a taste that kids won't frown at and gentle cleans delicate baby teeth.