You’re brushing your teeth to take care of your health, so don’t use counterproductive ingredients.
“Brush three times a day!” You probably grew up hearing that conventional oral-hygiene wisdom, but unfortunately, doing so today could pose an unnecessary threat to your health, thanks to certain bad-actor ingredients cropping up in popular toothpaste brands. The kicker? Some of the worst ingredients don’t even help keep your teeth cleaner. “Does the risk outweigh the benefits?” asks Linda A. Straub-Bruce, BS Ed, RDH, author of Dental Herbalism. “It’s what I always ask my patients to consider.”
She recommends avoiding these six ingredients that just aren’t worth the risk.
#1. Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS)
SLS seems to fuel canker sores. Researchers have linked SLS to higher numbers of canker sore outbreaks. As if that’s not enough, SLS also seems to cause more frequent outbreaks that last longer, too, Straub-Bruce says. She also points out that there is a definite correlation with cold sensitivity as well. No one likes canker sores or sensitive teeth, so manufacturers must have a really good reason to justify its inclusion, right?
“All it does is foam,” explains Straub-Bruce. “There is no other viable purpose other than the experience. This doesn’t translate into better health or lower microbial load, but people associate foaming with clean.” In fact, she suggests that you get more cleaning power from the scraping action of brushing or flossing (or even just eating a carrot) than you do from SLS.
“About 15 years ago, triclosan came to oral care because it fights the bacteria in plaque for up to 12 hours,” says Straub-Bruce. Unfortunately, research is now showing that, much like BPA, triclosan is a hormone disruptor.
“And now that it’s been out for a long time and it’s been going down the drain, we’re starting to see the environmental impacts,” says Straub-Bruce. She points out that not only is it a hormone disruptor for people, but it’s also a food-chain disruptor because it affects algae.