We diligently brush our teeth after every meal as part of good oral hygiene. But experts warn that the toothpaste we use to keep our pearly whites sparkling may be dangerous to our health. Because your mouth is the gateway to your body, what you put into it is crucial to your health.
"Thank of your mouth as the trauma center to your bloodstream," Dr. Philip Memoli, founder of the Center for Systemic Dentistry in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, tells Newsmax. "Whatever chemicals you put into your mouth travel through the body. Some ingredients in commercial toothpastes can lower your immune system and damage vital organs over time."
You may think that the dollop of toothpaste you use to brush daily is harmless. But experts say that over the course of a lifetime, the average American uses about 20 gallons of toothpaste — and even if you spit most of it out, some of the chemicals make their way into your bloodstream.
Because the mouth has a 90% absorbency rate it's also one of the most vulnerable areas of the body for chemical sensitivity. That's why certain medications are given sublingually, or under the tongue, for maximum absorption.
"Some of the ingredients used in our commercial toothpastes have been identified in Europe as carcinogens but here, in the U.S., the FDA labels them as potential carcinogens," notes Memoli.
Some of the questionable ingredients are triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate, fluoride, and artificial sweeteners. Fluoride may not only cause cancer but also brain damage.
Researchers from the Environmental Health Perspectives performed a review and meta-analysis of published studies to understand the effects of fluoride exposure on neurodevelopment. What they found was that children in high-fluoride areas had significantly lower IQ scores than those who lived in low-fluoride areas.
"Fluoride seems to fit in with lead, mercury, and other poisons that cause chemical brain drain," said senior author Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University.
Memoli says these ingredients are just the tip of a toxic iceberg of products in commercial toothpaste. Other potentially dangerous ingredients are propylene glycol, carrageenan, parabens, and GMOs.
Fortunately, there are healthy options.
"Brushing with baking soda, for example, is a healthy option," says Memoli. "If you have a lot of metal in your mouth, use the aluminum-free baking soda that's found in health food stores."
Memoli also recommends using bentonite clay mixed with water as a natural detoxifying toothpaste or oral rinse. The clay binds to unhealthy substances in the mouth and removes them.
"You can add essential oils like vanilla or anise to make the toothpaste taste better for kids," he says.
Some experts say that swishing the mouth with coconut oil — often called oil pulling — is an effective way to decrease plaque formation and plaque-induced gingivitis.
If you'd prefer to buy a readymade tooth product, The Cornucopia Institute recommends Dr. Bronner's All-One Toothpaste, Happy Teeth Organic Toothpaste, and Miessence Toothpaste as their top healthy picks. Memoli recommends Earthpaste products, which are affordable and readily available nationwide.
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