Natural toothpastes abound (used with a zero waste toothbrush), but you have to be careful as there is a lot of greenwashing around. The big brands have got on the bandwagon and claim ingredients such as baking soda (sometimes too harsh on teeth), aloe vera (not for everyone’s tummy) and coconut oil and charcoal (whitening but to get teeth really white, you’ll likely need a dental treatment – ‘whitening toothpastes’ usually can only remove surface stains like tea, coffee and wine (and only if you then stop drinking them thereafter!) Also stronger whitening toothpastes and bleaching kits are not recommended by dentists, who say they are way too harsh for most people’s teeth.
Never use toothpastes sweetened with xylitol near pets, as if licked around your mouth or the sink, it could be lethal. It’s also found in sweet foods and some chewing gums. Avoid essential oil flavourings for pregnancy/nursing and medical conditions (asthma, epilepsy, high blood pressure etc).
Conventional toothpastes not only are mostly in one of the 10 million discarded plastic tubes thrown away each year, but often contain foaming agents (used as engine degreaser, so should be nowhere near your gnashers) and fake colours (the ‘blue stripe’ is often made with brilliant blue FCF, which according to Wiki is poorly absorbed by your tummy (with 95% of that ingested found in your poo!) It can also be absorbed directly into the bloodstream when applyed to the tongue (or shaved skin). But it’s an approved food dye so in it goes, though it is linked to asthma attacks for some people and has safety limits imposed.
Some holistic dentists don’t recommend fluoride, but others say that it’s good (especially when topically applied by them). A small amount can kill a small child, so keep it well away from them (only use toothpaste when your dentist says the child is old enough). Countries that have fluoridated water for years (like Ireland) have no better dental records (and sometimes mottled teeth). Critics of fluoride say the best way to prevent decay is taxing sugary food and sodas, and making free NHS dentists more widely available. For more info, read Holistic Dental Care and It’s All In Your Mouth.
Georganics is a good brand in zero waste packaging. However their fluoride toothpastes and gum contain pet-toxic xylitol, so never use near animal friends (just a tiny amount licked from your mouth or around sinks could be lethal). Other toothpastes are (at time of writing) all xylitol-free, check before purchase. Sold with refill packets, the range includes:
- Mineral toothpaste is made with kaolin clay, coconut oil and minerals for teeth (calcium, potassium and silica) and naturally improves the breath. Sold in a glass jar with optional spatula, the range includes orange, peppermint, spearmint, tea tree and peppermint charcoal (removes surface stains). Use a pea-sized amount, brush for 2 minutes then rinse. Store in a dry place for up to 12 months after opening. The whitening toothpaste powder is ideal to remove surface stains, just dip a clean toothbrush into the powder.
- Mineral Tooth Tablets are sold in a glass jar, ideal for travel. Made with cream of tartar and sodium bicarbonate, chew 1 tablet in your mouth to dissolve, then brush as usual for 2 minutes.
- Toothsoap is made with olive oil, coconut oil and cocoa butter (keep away from pets) and ha a natural foaming formula. Apply to your toothbrush by rubbibg wet bristles onto the stick in circular motions, then brush as normal for 2 minutes, before rinsing well.