Pursuant to last week's four-part series on artificial colors, it’s important to realize that these petroleum-based dyes not only appear in food, but are also used in many health care products.
Have you read the ingredients in your toothpaste lately? You may be a little surprised. Chances are that it contains one or two artificial colors. Just because a product is sold in a store—or handed out at a dentist’s office—shouldn't mean a free pass.
(Saccharin is also present, but that’s a completely different issue. As in, “Why are you selling toothpaste with an artificial sweetener? Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose?”)
The other day I walked into two pharmacies and counted 24 different types of Colgate toothpaste. Varieties ranged from Total Whitening (Paste and Gel) to Sparkling White (Caribbean Cool and CinnaMint) to MaxFresh with Minibreath Strips (Kiss Me Mint, Cool Mint and Clean Mint) to Whitening Oxygen Bubbles (Brisk Mint Paste and Frosty Mint Striped Gel).
Perhaps even more frightening than the contrived names is the fact that 21 of the 24 contained artificial colors. Do we really need Red 40 in our toothpaste?
A better option is toothpaste without synthetic additives. Tom’s of Maine is probably the best-known brand. (Despite being bought by Colgate in 2006, Tom’s has remained true to its principles.)
Tom’s toothpastes don’t have the fake sweetness of the major brands and don’t contain “sorbitol, water, hydrated silica, PEG-12, sodium lauryl sulfate, flavor, cellulose gum, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, sodium saccharin, cocamidopropyl betaine, mica, titanium dioxide, FD & C blue no. 1.”
(Are you asking yourself yet, "I'm brushing my teeth with what?")
It usually takes a week or two to adjust to Tom’s lack of sweetness. But stick with it; your body will reward you for decreasing its toxicity.