4 Tips of how to choose safe oral hygiene products
What are your standards for choosing oral care products? Do you try new products based on word-of-mouth reviews? Or do you just use any toothpaste that's lying near the bathroom sink?
I used to buy popular toothpaste brands whenever I traveled overseas. I have always been careful about toxic ingredients commonly used in oral care products. But really, I don’t have a reliable way of knowing what to choose most of the time.
I don’t remember since when but my friends who travel overseas have brought me ‘natural’ products like natural toothpaste, soap, and cosmetics. Cosmetic products are classic gift items, but these days it's also trendy to buy daily products from abroad as souvenirs, especially toothpaste, since the safety of personal care products is a big issue.
With that in mind, today I’d like to share my tips to choosing safe oral care products, especially toothpaste. We should use toothpaste at least twice a day, so we'd better find the best and safest one possible!
Does your oral care product list 100% of its ingredients?
It’s common for companies to advertise only the main active ingredients they want consumers to see. However, think twice about your purchase if you don't see the full ingredients list. There’s no way for consumers to identify exactly which ingredients are used in products, especially if the ingredients are used in small amounts.
Can you find the following toxic ingredients?
Oral care products are used directly on the teeth but also in the mucous of the mouth. This mucous is very sensitive and can absorb and retain chemicals for a long time, and that includes harmful chemicals. If you see any of the following toxic ingredients on the list, put them back and save your mouth a lot of trouble!
- CIT/MIT, Paraben, Phenoxyethanol: These are toxic synthetic preservatives. Toothpaste contains water to dissolve and thoroughly mix all of the ingredients. And once water is added to a formula, preservatives must be added to inhibit microbial activities in the water. If you are exposed to such harsh preservatives for a long period, they can irritate your respiratory system and eyes, cause allergies, and eventually deteriorate your immune system.
- SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate): This is a synthetic foaming agent widely used in personal care products that need foam to work effectively and wash off easily -- shampoos, facial soaps, and toothpaste, things of that nature. It is added to toothpaste to remove oily residues and leave the mouth feeling clean and fresh. But SLS, a series of sulfates, can make the inside of the mouth dry and cause stomatitis and bad breath. SLS can also penetrate the skin and then allow other toxic ingredients to get through to deeper skin layers. It is also commonly found in tooth powders in the form of foaming agents called surfactants, a form of powder. So again, look at that list of ingredients closely!
- Triclosan: This is a germicide banned from use in personal care products in many countries due to its harmful effects, including but not limited to liver cancer and hypothyroidism.
- Fluoride: This is a very common chemical used to strengthen tooth enamel. But when fluoride builds up in our body tissues it can cause osteosclerosis and hypothyroidism. Fluoride is actually added to municipal water supplies in Australia to help promote dental health among the general population. It's a good idea but all the more reason to avoid adding unnecessary fluoride to our bodies in other ways.
- PEG (Polyethylene glycol): A solubiliser and surfactant very plainly listed among the other ingredients. PEG is created through an ethoxylation process to improve its detergency and emulsifying capacity. During the process, 1,4-Dioxane, a very strong carcinogen, is added. But it is not fully purified; rather it is left in polyethylene glycol after the ethoxylation processing is done.
- Artificial colorants and synthetic fragrances: Artificial colorants and synthetic fragrances: To add colours like white, red, and blue to toothpaste, tar colorant is needed. These, though, may contain carcinogenic substances, so beware. For more information of the danger of synthetic fragrances, refer The Brown Bottle’s last blog, Scent of danger - Harmful chemicals in your perfume.
Does it contain ‘glycerin’?
What's that? Glycerin, that widely popular skin humectant, is also a problem? Glycerin is a wonderful humectant that can add moisture to the mouth and counteract the drying effects of foaming agents in toothpaste. But according to Dr. Gerard F. Judd, author of "Good Teeth from Birth to Death", the glycerin in toothpaste can only be fully removed by rinsing the mouth at least 27 times. If it is left in the mouth, it can leave a film of glycerin on the teeth, and this film will eventually prevent the restoration of enamel. This in turn weakens the teeth, causing them to break easily. Dr. Judd recommends that using soap is better than toothpaste that contains glycerin.
Is there micro plastic beads?
Micro plastic beads are very widely used as exfoliators in toothpastes. They are minute plastic particles that are not degraded and not rotten away naturally. They go through sewage treatment plant easily and become toxic pollutants in the water. For more information of the micro plastic beads, please refer the last blog, Do you still use toothpaste? (1).
Hope today’s blog helps you when you choose oral care products. Check what kind of foaming agents or abrasive ingredients are added in and choose products according to your oral health status. To do so, checking ingredients list is mandatory. Right?
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