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Written by Tera on November 14, 2012 – -
by Nadine Artemis
This is part 2 of a-two part series on the toxic chemicals lurking in your toothpaste. In Part 1 we covered the first 6 ingredients (fluoride, propylene glycol, FD&C color pigments, triclosan, artificial sweeteners, alcohols and ethanol). Despite the cheerful commercials and dentist-pushing protocols, the bottom line is that if anything labeled, “Harmful if swallowed” shouldn’t be coming anywhere near your mouth. In Part 2 of this article series, we bust out the facts about why 6 more seemingly harmless words that have been slithering along the ingredient list of your toothpaste tube are not so harmless after all.
In Part 2 of this series we’ll be looking at the ugly tooth truth about surfactants, calcium, glycerin, flavor (menthol, cinnamaldehyde), carrageenan, carbomer, hydrated silica, and trisodium phosphate. Not even those fancy, glitter-coated tubes and fancy marketing will be able to make these ingredients look safe for consumption!
7. Added to turn tooth brushing in to a tidy, foamy experience, what paste would be complete without the detergents and surfactants? Surfactants, like sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), ammonium laureth sulfate (ALES), sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS) are known skin irritants, hormone and endocrine disruptors as well as suspected carcinogens and gene mutagens.
8. Widely used in household cleaners and detergents until the 1960′s when scientists discovered that trisodium phosphate created an over-bloom of algae in our lakes and rivers. Today, it is still sold at home improvement stores as a powerful cleaner and degreaser.
With a pH of 12, which is highly alkaline, TSP can corrode the skin. It is used in toothpaste as a cleaner, and it balances high-acidic environments created by carbomers. When consumed, TSP reduces lactic acid buildup, which may be important since artificial sweeteners in toothpastes are metabolized into lactic acid. Over time, trisodium phosphate can cause tumor lesion, gum bleeding and nerve inflammation. It also may even harm the liver.
9. Glycerin is a widely used and inexpensive filler and carrier for the low concentration substances that are highlighted as active ingredients. Glycerin is made from a mélange of dried vegetables that are repeatedly processed, bleached and deodorized, the results is a viscous fluid similar in texture to molasses. Glycerin coats the teeth and blocks the saliva from doing its primary job of re-mineralizing the enamel.
10. Calcium, as calcium carbonate, is added to toothpaste for a variety of purported reasons. It is an abrasive cleaning agent that helps to remove tartar and plaque. It is a desensitizing agent to anesthetize teeth that are sensitive to temperature changes. Also, it is also argued drawing from little clinical proof, that calcium carbonate remineralizes the enamel and dentin from outside the tooth. Predominately found in egg shells, sea shells, limestone, chalk, marble and other stones, calcium carbonate is not water soluble or bioavailable, and when ingested it can cause calcifications, kidney stones, hypocalcaemia and joint problems.
11. “Minty fresh!” is a marketing promise we all know from commercials. Flavorings are added to oral products to cover the strong, and unpleasant, taste of detergents in toothpaste, like SLS. Toothpastes and mouthwashes feel refreshing because they contain synthetic flavors: fake mint (menthol) and fake cinnamon (cinnamaldehyde). Synthetic derivatives are made in a beaker; for example, cinnamaldehyde is manufactured by condensing benzaldehyde, acetaldehyde (possible carcinogen), sodium hydroxide (lye), calcium hydroxide (hydrated lime), hydrochloric acid or sodium ethylate (corrosives). Yum!
Real cinnamon is made from the essential oils in cinnamon bark and minty-fresh peppermint is made from the peppermint plant, and it is these authentic essences that contain antibacterial and regenerative benefits for the mouth and body.
12. Carbomer is a polymer of acrylic acid, one of the byproducts of gasoline production. It is anairy, white powder that absorbs water, thus it is used to thicken liquid ingredients into a paste and stabilizes the paste so it doesn’t separate. Carbomer is included purely to appeal to the consumers’ ideas of what the texture of a tooth cleaner should be.
These polymers are very acidic, requiring yet another chemical to neutralize it enough to not burn the mouth, and these chemicals may not be listed on the label. Some of these are sodium hydroxide, tetrasodium EDTA or triethanolamine (TEA).
13. Hydrated silica is an abundant natural compound found in sand, opals, granite and other minerals. It is also found in diatomaceous earth. Hydrated silica is an abrasive used to polish and scrub the surface of your teeth in gel toothpastes. (Do not confuse this with crystalline silica, which is highly toxic.) Silica, itself, is a good natural product; pollutants and toxins may be introduced to it in the manufacturing or refining process.
14. Carrageenan is a gummy or gel-like substance extracted from red seaweed, which sounds safe and so it is often given a free pass. Recent scientific studies have noted a correlation between carrageenan and GI upset, colon cancer and immune issues.
Commercial toothpaste gives an illusion of a fresh and clean mouth, yet it is the tooth brush that actually removes the plaque. It is best to be a purest about oral health, and use a dry toothbrush with a dab of salt, baking soda or a pure botanical serum. The simple, time-tested ingredient sodium bicarbonate/baking soda is less abrasive to enamel than commercial toothpaste, and it has been shown to do all that we ask of a toothpaste: decrease dental plaque acidity, prevent dental carries due to its buffering capacity and inhibit plaque formation, increase calcium uptake to the enamel, neutralize the pH in the mouth and reduce the effect of harmful metabolic acids… and it is quite safe to swallow!
Hopefully, no one is gulping gobs of toothpaste! However, the rate of absorption is very high inside the mouth, where the moist tissue of the skin wall, the epithelium, is only one cell thick. This is very important if one has bleeding gums (and some of the surfactants cause gums to bleed) where anything in the mouth will have direct access to the bloodstream. We would not want to put anything in, on, or around the body that could not be swallowed. We can also maintain molars with the molecular matter of phytonutrients: brushing with botanicals, like neem, cardamom, clove, peppermint and mastic that are anti-bacterial and anti-fungal while benefitting digestion and the rest of the body.
Coming on December 1st a series of 12 myth-busting interviews with the world’s most well-known and respected dentists, doctors and health heroes will be taking the online stage. This one time only TOOTH Summit will be hosted by Nadine Artemis and Tera Warner and with a line-up of truth seekers like Dr. Hal Huggins, Ramiel Nagel, Dr. and many others it is guaranteed to change everything you thought you knew about your teeth, your mouth and your health in general!
Join us on December 1st when the TOOTH Summit begins and prepare for another wellness revolution.