June 10, 2010
I realized that through these past few months of talking about all the various body products I have switched out to healthier, less toxic versions, I haven’t discussed oral care! Hello-o! It’s only something that we all use twice a day, every single day! (Hopefully.) When I examined the toothcare products I was using – both my toothpaste and mouthwash – I realized they both had naughty toxins in them. My toothpaste had sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and propylene glycol, my mouthwash had artificial sweetener and artificial dye – which I never understood. Why put sweetener and colored dye in a product designed to clean teeth? Doesn’t it seem like those ingredients would, in fact, do quite the opposite? Keep you going back to the dentist more and more? Hmmm.
In order to figure out where to start, I went to my local health foods store. I went to the oral care section, and the brands I saw were Desert Essence, JASON, Kiss My Face, and Tom’s of Maine. First I focused on toothpaste. I eliminated Desert Essence right off the bat, because their toothpaste contains SLS. I was surprised to learn that almost all of Tom’s toothpaste also contains SLS, as well as fluoride. Some people don’t mind fluoride in their oral care products, but I prefer to avoid it since it is an aluminum by-product, and studies have shown it has a connection to both cancer and Alzheimer’s – two things I do NOT want.
So that left me with JASON and Kiss My Face. Each brand had numerous toothpastes to pick from. They all contain a different combination of ingredients, that do different things for your mouth. This is what I have tried so far:
JASON Healthy Mouth Toothpaste – Tea Tree & Cinnamon: Contains CoQ10, tea tree oil, aloe vera leaf gel, silica mineral, neem oil, parsley extract, bamboo stem powder, perilla seed extract, grapefruit seed extract, cinnamon oil, menthol, and clove oil. It claims to provide gum support, periodontal protection, soothe gums, heal gums, fight bad breath, whiten, eliminate plaque, prevent cavities, and neutralize acid. That’s a lot of action from one toothpaste! The main reason I chose this particular type was because I have issues with my gums – mainly that I have brushed my teeth so aggressively to the put where not only do germs and bacteria retreat, but my gums are as well. Oink. Ah well, I thought maybe this would help. After all, it is so focused on gum health. Well, I have no idea if this toothpaste would have repaired my gums, because I could not continue using it long enough to find out! The cinnamon and clove combo just made it… hot. Not temperature hot, but rather, spicy hot. Make my breath hot. Not good hot. It reminded me of when I was little, and my dad would chew Big Red gum. (Which I never understood. I mean, yah it tasted pretty good, but hot cinnamon is not a flavor I gravitate to when I want to freshen my breath. I’m more of a minty fresh kind of gal.) This flavor of JASON toothpaste was not a hit in my house. My daughter did not care for it either. Which is fine, because I realized later that it also has fluoride in it. Missed that when I read the ingredients! Wouldn’t have bought it in the first place! But the good thing is it does not contain any preservatives, or animal byproducts, and it is not tested on animals. So there’s that.
JASON Sea Fresh Toothpaste: Contains spearmint leaf oil, blue green algae, aloe vera leaf gel, bamboo stem powder, parsley extract, perilla seed extract, and grapefruit seed extract. It claims to whiten teeth, soothe gums, fight bacteria, and eliminate plaque. Not as many functions as the Healthy Mouth toothpaste, but I’m more comfortable with it because it definitely does not contain fluoride. It also does not contain animal byproducts, and isn’t tested on animals. This toothpaste is a hit in my house. Both my daughter and I really like it. I was nervous that it would taste weird because of the algae (really?), but the spearmint oil makes up for any funkiness.
JASON Sea Fresh Tooth Gel: Huh? Didn’t you just review this? No – that was toothPASTE, this is tooth GEL. And trust me, the difference isn’t only the consistency. First off, my mom gave me this toothpaste because she thought it was the one I like. I did too at first (only in a different form), until I took a closer look. For some reason the gel version has different ingredients. Most are the same, but in addition it also contains sea salt, CoQ10, and vitamin E – yay! Sounds good. However, it also contains fluoride. Boo. Well it doesn’t matter anyway, because even though it’s supposed to be the gel version of the same toothpaste, for some reason this one tastes awful. As in, bad. But on the plus side, it does not contain any saccharin, or animal byproducts, and is not tested on animals.
JASON PowerSmile Toothpaste: Contains peppermint oil, aloe vera leaf gel, bamboo stem powder, parsley extract, perilla seed extract, and grapefruit seed extract. The ingredients are actually very similar to the Sea Fresh toothpaste that I like – sans the algae, and one is spearmint vs. peppermint. The functions of the toothpaste are the same as the Sea Fresh toothpaste. It also claims to whiten teeth, reduce plaque, fight bacteria, and soothe gums. It does not contain preservatives, or animal byproducts, and is not tested on animals. But the main reason I bought this toothpaste is because I found it when I was looking for travel size healthy toothpaste (see ‘Toxic Toiletries’.) Both my daughter and I like this toothpaste, and will use it again.
Kiss My Face Whitening Aloe Vera Toothpaste: Contains aloe vera, peppermint oil, olive leaf extract, Iceland moss, menthol, and tea tree leaf oil. Claims to whiten teeth, and prevent plaque and tartar build-up. It does not contain artificial colors, or animal ingredients, and is not tested on animals. I also bought this toothpaste because I found it in travel size. My daughter and I really like this toothpaste as well.
*I have learned that Tom’s of Maine does have one toothpaste that is both SLS and fluoride free – Tom’s Fluoride-Free Clean & Gentle. I have not tried it yet, but plan to. Now this is not to be confused with their regular Clean & Gentle, which does have fluoride!
Now let’s talk about mouthwash. I was using two different mouthwashes – one for morning, and one for night. In the morning I was using Crest Pro-Health Multi-Protection Rinse in Refreshing Clean Mint. I started using it because it is alcohol-free. I have a brother who thinks that you need the alcohol in order for it to really clean, but I disagree, and so does my dentist. Not to mention I don’t think anything that stings and burns my mouth can be very good. Well I have since learned that while it does not contain alcohol, it does contain propylene glycol and parabens. Not to mention saccharin, artificial flavor, and artificial dye. Again, not sure why there is sweetener and dye in mouthwash. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
At night I was using ACT Restoring Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash in Cool Splash Mint. I started using this on the recommendation of my sister, when she was studying to be a Dental Assistant. Apparently it really is the #1 Dentist Recommended Brand! She told me they like it because it does more than just kill bad breath germs. It also strengthens enamel, and restores minerals to weak spots. Sounded good to me! Well since then I have learned that fluoride is actually not something I want in my oral care, nor is the alcohol, propylene glycol, artificial flavor, saccharin, or artificial dye. I am seriously starting to feel like some of these products are made to send us back to the dentist more frequently, rather than less. You can not convince me that saccharin and artificial coloring are beneficial to teeth.
When I was at the health food store, I saw that Desert Essence, JASON, Kiss My Face, and Tom’s of Maine all make mouthwash as well. So far I have only tried the rinses that accompany the toothpastes I tried:
JASON Healthy Mouth Mouthwash – Tea Tree & Cinnamon: Contains grapefruit seed extract, Dead Sea salt, Ester-C vitamin C, with hazel extract, aloe vera leaf gel, perilla seed extract, neem seed oil, tea tree leaf oil, clove oil, menthol, cinnamon bark oil, golden seal extract, echinacea extract, marigold flower extract, and lemon balm leaf extract. It claims to soothe gums, repair gums, repair enamel, fight bacteria, neutralize acid, and reduce tartar build-up. It is alcohol and saccharin free, and is not tested on animals. However, even though this all sounds good, the taste is bad. Just as bad as the accompanying toothpaste. That is, unless you like hot, spicy breath.
JASON Sea Fresh Mouthwash: Contains grapefruit seed extract, blue green algae, Dead Sea salt, Ester-C vitamin C, witch hazel, aloe vera leaf gel, perilla seed extract, menthol, spearmint leaf oil, golden seal extract, echinacea extract, and marigold flower extract. It claims to heal the mouth, detoxify and strengthen gums and teeth, neutralize bacteria, eliminate bad breath, and reduce tartar build-up. It does not contain alcohol or saccharin, and is not tested on animals. While I like this mouthwash, my daughter does not. Even though it accompanies the toothpaste she likes, she does not care for this. I think it is because she is so accustomed to mouthwashes that contain saccharin and artificial flavoring, that she is having a hard time adjusting. I think as adults we are more willing to look past things like that, in the sake of our health. But until she comes around, I am going to have to try different brands and flavors.
I was recently out of town, and did not have my mouthwash with me, so I used my friend’s. Man. Not only did it burn, but I was left with a white layer of film in my mouth, which I have since learned may be the top layer of skin cells being burned off! Not good! I had totally forgotten that used to happen with my old mouthwashes. Let me tell you, it has not happened one single time since I switched to healthier alternatives.
Now if you want fluoride in your oral care, but are still looking for healthier products, you may want to try the following products: Toothpaste – JASON Healthy Mouth Plus CoQ10 Tooth Gel, JASON NutriSmile Plus CoQ10 Tooth Gel, JASON PowerSmile Plus CoQ10 Tooth Gel, JASON Sea Fresh Plus CoQ10 Tooth Gel, or Kiss My Face Anticavity Aloe Vera Toothpaste. Tom’s of Maine has plenty of toothpaste and tooth gel that contain fluoride, but most also contain SLS, which I cannot endorse. Their only toothpaste that does contain fluoride, but does not contain SLS, is Tom’s Maximum Strength Sensitive Fluoride Toothpaste. Mouthwash – Kiss My Face Spearmint with Fluoride Breath Blast Mouthwash, or Tom’s Natural Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash.
For more information on these companies, visit their websites. (www.desertessence.com) (www.jason-natural.com) (www.kissmyface.com) (www.tomsofmaine.com) There are several other companies out there that make healthy, natural oral care products, but this is what I saw at my local health food store.