Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS • Nutritional Periodontist
June 19, 2017
The first commercially produced toothpaste was launched in 1873 by Colgate and sold in a jar. Today, there are over 1400 different types of toothpastes available online and in stores. But, is toothpaste even necessary?
As with most things, there is controversy about toothpaste. Dental companies frequently advertise their products in misleading and confusing ways. The general public becomes the victim of this misinformation.
Here are my thoughts:
Is Toothpaste Necessary?
First of all, you do not need toothpaste to clean your teeth. The mechanical removal of unhealthy dental plaque using just a toothbrush, floss, and tiny brushes that clean between teeth are all that are necessary. No toothpaste is necessary to remove unhealthy clumps of bacteria and food debris.
The next fact is that tooth brushing would not be so critical if you ate a nutrient-dense diet that was anti-inflammatory. Here is a peer-reviewed research paper that was published in 2016. It showed that a healthy diet would decrease the signs and symptoms of active gum disease without the rigors of cleaning between the teeth.
However, don’t get me wrong. It is important to remove unhealthy dental plaque from around the tooth. Brushing and flossing will help. And, toothpaste can offer a pleasant way to clean your teeth. Unfortunately, marketing claims can be misleading, confusing, and downright false.
Chemicals In Conventional Toothpaste
Most conventional toothpastes in the marketplace include chemicals that are harsh to the teeth and gums. While these chemicals may make toothpaste “feel smooth” or “taste good” or “help to whiten teeth” or “coat the teeth to prevent decay”, these chemicals are unhealthy overall. Toothpaste companies will not share the truth of these potentially harmful chemicals with you.
In addition, several of these chemicals may be toxic to the body when they get into the systemic circulation.
Here are some chemicals that might be in your toothpaste:
- Aluminum hydroxide
- DEA (diethanolamine)
- Food coloring
- Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
- Potassium sorbate
- Propylene glycol
- Sodium benzoate
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
- Sodium saccharin
- Titanium dioxide
Claims By Toothpaste Manufacturers
Most commercial toothpaste companies make claims that their toothpastes are necessary if you wanted to clean your teeth effectively. The ads suggest that you would not be able to clean your teeth and your mouth if you were not using their products. These statements are false. Toothpaste is not necessary to make your mouth clean or healthy.
Also, some dental manufacturers suggest that their toothpaste is organic. In August 2016, a well-known dental manufacturer was ordered to remove false claims from its website that stated one of its toothpaste brands was “organic” and that “the USDA did not have standards for toothpastes regarding the word Organic”. In fact, (1) this company’s toothpaste did not have any organic ingredients in its formula, and (2) the USDA does have strict regulations regarding the use of the word “Organic” on toothpaste products.
The Bottom Line
Toothpaste is not necessary to clean your teeth. The mechanical cleaning with dental floss and various sized brushes will adequately clean your teeth. But more importantly, your mouth would be healthier if you ate foods that were nutrient-dense and anti-inflammatory.
If you wanted to use toothpaste, be aware of the ingredients on the label. There are a few brands that can state they are Made With Organic Ingredients, which means that 70% of their ingredients is Certified Organic, excluding water and salt. There are very few that may claim they are Organic and would be allowed to use the USDA Organic Seal, which means that 95% of their ingredients is Certified Organic, excluding water and salt.
Note: I could not find any brand that was 100% Organic, which would mean that every ingredient in the toothpaste was Certified Organic, excluding water and salt.