Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Do You Know What's In Your Toothpaste?

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 artifici
al 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.


Anonymous said...

I heard that if a toothpaste doesnt have the ADA symbol on it, it hasn't been approved as doing what it says it does? Any insight? - the newly vegetarian at your pig roast

Chef Rob said...

I'll look into that, but the bigger question: What does ADA approval really mean? Why are dentists approving toothpastes with artificial sweeteners, synthetic dyes and other toxic additives?

Bradley Bedell said...

I also use natural toothpastes because I find using those in the market very unpleasant, especially when they leave a sting in the mouth. That is why, when I buy toothpastes, I always pick the pure white ones because these have no additional coloring.

Anonymous said...

What about the old washing your teeth with baking soda?

Chef Rob said...

Yes! for washing with baking soda. You don't even need a toothbrush: a finger works just fine.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this! I've had a hard time getting my family to understand why their "drugstore" toothpaste may not be the best choice for overall health, and anything with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate definitely is not good for the environment (but that's a whole different story). Anyways, my Grandpa didn't believe in toothpaste. He would brush his teeth with baking soda or salt water. Low and behold, he had the healthiest teeth in the family.

I've become something of an activist when it comes to additives and chemicals used in cosmetics because I recently learned that the FDA does not regulate cosmetic ingredients for long term health and safety. You can find that on their website. Also, any company is allowed to put "Fragrance" or "Flavors" in their ingredient list without further explanation because it protects the company's "trade secrets." This information is also available directly from the FDA website so feel free to fact check me!

I'm an engineering student so I understand that risk evaluation is essential. The consequences of something you create, the potential health risks, are of utmost concern! I can't understand why chemical use is not treated with a proactive approach.

All of this has led to my involvement with a company called Ava Anderson Non Toxic. She founded a company that sells only natural and/or organic ingredients and lists every single ingredient on the label! I've had tremendous success using her products. I became such an advocate for this company that I ended up working for them! (You can visit my website at if you'd like more information.)

While I trust and hope that Tom's of Maine remains steadfast and sticks to their principles, I have made a conscious decision to go with a small time company that I feel is truly invested in their mission of creating non toxic products. I encourage everyone to do their research on chemical usage, sweeteners, color additives, and to educate friends and family! Consumers in the US WILL make the biggest impact on industry!