Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tongue and Teeth

The good thing about our teeth is that most of us brush them daily. I often cite tooth brushing as a habit we do without too much thought. I wish food journaling, vitamin taking and hand washing were done as regularly. The bad thing about this consistency thing is that if we’re not careful we are swishing with hormone disruptors and carcinogens and then sending all of that down the drain to our water supply and harming our fish.  Treatment plants can only “treat” so much. If you’re thinking “everything is bad for us” there’s some truth to that but the good news is that this will be an easy fix.

One of my favorite bloggers, Katherine Ong of Beauty Palate had this to say when we talked teeth “my basic philosophy is that if I work really hard to avoid known toxins and carcinogens in my food, it's kind of silly to allow them in my beauty or hygiene products.”
Your oral health may affect or contribute to heart disease, fertility and also premature birth, osteoporosis and general immunity as bacteria from your mouth travels elsewhere. Poor oral health in kids is associated with a  greater number absences so let’s take a closer look.

When it comes to toothpaste the ingredients to avoid are:
  • Parabens- mimics hormones, potential breast cancer connection
  • Triclosan- endocrine disrupter, toxic to fish 
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate- carcinogen and mutagen
  • Sodium monoflourophosphate-possible developmental concern
Some of these I discussed in an earlier skincare post.

I will admit, my children used Tom’s of Maine’s Silly Strawberry for years before I discovered there was SLS in it.  Silly indeed. And me? I was informed my Marvis was safe “paraben free” at the store I first purchased it. When I read the fine print,  my pretty licorice toothpaste hit the recycling bin. What was that spelling trick…don’t “assume” or you make an ass- (out of)- u- and me? Guess that makes me a toothpaste "ass" but no more.

The kids now use Natural Dentist Toothpaste and we use Desert Essence tea tree oil toothpaste (and coincidentally so does Katherine).  Other “safe” brands include Weleda and Jason. I should note that Tom’s Clean and Gentle and Botanically Bright toothpastes do not contain SLS but after shelling our money for  Silly Strawberry, Tom lost me. And for you canker sore people, researchers from the University of Oslo conducted studies that revealed a 60% to 70% reduction in the number of canker sores in patients who used SLS free toothpaste.

When it comes to toothbrushes, you’ll want to keep in mind the material they are made from and how often you replace them. I love these from Izola. They’re made from sustainable bamboo and the months inscribed let you know when you need to move on to a new brush. They also make a “guest” set great for houseguests, sleepovers etc.  The bristles are biodegradable nylon just FYI vegetarians/vegans some bristles are made from longhaired pigs (even as an omnivore that's just repulsive). Carolyn has her own toothbrush fixation. She likes these with charcoal-infused bristles. This Binchotan charcoal can inhibit bacteria growth between bristles.

The Mack Daddy of Dental Care
Do you know what it is?  I know they look a little forcep-like but wrong end. It’s a tongue scrapper. I can’t always brush but with this in my makeup case I am always ready. Rather than using mint or gum I’d rather get to the halitosis source. It’s like spraying air freshener versus taking the garbage out. No more bad breath with the scrapper. 

Somebody is listening to his or her dentist, and flossing, as the amount of dental floss sold in the US each year could span the distance from the earth to the moon and back four times. Or at least people are  purchasing floss. The same company who boasted that statistic has floss that’s coated with PTFE, an ingredient that also provides the coating in non-stick cookware Seek out unwaxed or naturally coated. I like Dessert Essence but I’ve heard good things about Radius’ cranberry floss, the cranberry helps break down plaque.

I’m also booking an appointment with a Holistic Dentist. Suddenly what "4 out of 5 dentists recommend" is nothing I want to be paying money for. Sorry this has been a mouthful but bad oral health is connected to bad overall health. After a little substituting your health, your families' health and the environment will be better off.
What toothpaste do you use? Have you considered the incredients? Any paste, brushes or floss that need to hit the recycling bin? Any dental health obsessions? Anyone else a tongue scraper?


  1. Welllll....I think about too many other things when it comes to my health (And spend money on them too) so I'm swishing with my Crest and Listerine :) Although I do buy the Dessert Essence when it's on sale (I actually really love the taste) And, I want those bamboo toothbrushes. So cool!

  2. Are you serious about the crest/listerine...really?

  3. I used Tom's for years and hated getting my teeth cleaned. I was at my mom's for her hip surgery and had to buy a tube of something, so I got Crest (I think) and just kept using it. The following cleaning was the easiest one I'd had in years. As much as I hate it, I kept using it. So my question for you is how does the tea tree oil toothpaste really work for getting plaque off of teeth?

  4. feel same way about this as cleaning products. Maybe we have to change our definition of clean if it means harsh chemicals that will harm us down the line. I use the desert essence/floss/tongue scrape and rinse here and there and teeth feel great. I would suggest doing a 2 min brush, including gums with "safe" paste. May not be as potent but I think that's ok.

  5. I used Tom's for a while but then my next visit to the dentist yielded 2 cavities and a very large bill. I went back to Crest. :(

  6. interesting, lots of cresties here. I'm thinking maybe more rinsing/time brushing needed with natural brands. Knowing what I do about SLS, parabens just can't "swallow" them.

  7. Hmm...Not using Crest {regularly}, but I do use Toms. I haven't tried Desert Essence, but perhaps I'll seek it out next time at the store. I do like to use the Jason's Healthy Mouth wash from time-to-time. I think that's good-right?

  8. After our Tom's experience I think good to check for parabens and SLS in all products. I think many people watch their skincare, dental care seems further down the list.

  9. Great post, Lauren. And I'd go on to add that Desert Essence is 100% vegan and no animal testing--so it's win win for us and for animals.

  10. Thanks for that Gena, seems Desert Essence is the way to go (no downside). It's funny being vegan (for you) or gluten free (for me) forces you to look at everything going in your body. I do think there's a chasm where people will not eat chemicals but will use them in personal care or don't see it as important as it is.

  11. I've been using Tom's and cannot believe I didn't notice the SLS! Arg. How did I miss that? Luckily we are just about done with the tube...buying DEssert Essence! Probably won't get the toothbrushes just yet (we are on a strict budget) but the toothpaste and floss are pretty reasonable! Thanks for the heads up!

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  13. This post is so interesting. I hate to admit that I never thought about my dental health in relation to my overall health. I am definitely going to make the switch.
    I have a random question that I figured I'd ask..I loved your skin care post, do you have any suggestions for a green tinted moisturizer or powder. I use bare minerals occasionally but am sure it isn't great. Thanks!