We all know how important it is to look after our teeth and gums. But could the dental products you're using be doing more harm than good?
Most toothpastes, mouthwashes and even dental flosses contain a multitude of toxic chemicals to help keep your pearly whites white and gums in the pink—from the known poison sodium fluoride, linked to lowered IQs and bone cancer,1 to the irritant sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which may cause mouth ulcers.2
Fortunately, you don't need harsh chemicals for good oral health. There are now numerous companies offering safe, effective alternatives made with gentle, natural ingredients you don't have to worry about. Here are five of our favorite all-natural products for looking after your teeth and gums.
Salt Toothpaste, $8 (2.5 fl oz/75 mL)
www.weleda.com; tel: 800-241-1030
One of Weleda's top sellers, this toothpaste contains sea salt, used not just for its abrasive action but also to stimulate the production of saliva, which plays a vital role in maintaining oral health. Other key ingredients include sodium bicarbonate and silica to clean, blackthorn juice and myrrh extract to combat bacteria, and peppermint oil to freshen the breath. Plus there are extracts of ratanhia (rhatany) root and horse chestnut to help keep the gums firm and healthy.
PerioBrite Natural Mouthwash, Cool Mint, $10.99 (16 fl oz/480 mL)
www.naturesanswer.com; tel: 800-439-2324
Formulated by 'Integrative Dentist' Dr James Harrison, author of The Periodontal Solution: Healthy Gums Naturally, this alcohol-free mouthwash contains a cocktail of herbs, nutrients and essential oils with bacteria-killing, inflammation-fighting and gum-healing properties. Coenzyme Q10 and folate are in the mix, both shown to improve gum disease when used topically,3 as well as natural sweetener xylitol, which, at least when used in chewing gum, seems to reduce plaque buildup and help prevent tooth decay.4
Jack N' Jill
Natural Toothpaste, Banana
$6.99 (1.76 oz/50 g)
www.smallflower.com; tel: 800-252-0275
One of the safest toothpastes you can buy, according to consumer watchdog Environmental Working Group (see www.ewg.org/skindeep), Jack N' Jill's kid-friendly formula is a blend of natural, safe-to-swallow ingredients including cavity-fighting xylitol,5 mildly abrasive silica and soothing Calendula extract. It comes in five fruity flavors—all natural and certified organic—as well as a flavor-free version, and the cute packaging is made without the harmful chemical BPA.
North American Herb & Spice
OregaDENT Gum and Teeth Support, $24.99 (1 fl oz/30 mL)
www.betterhealthinternational.com; tel: 800-772-5568
OregaDENT is a potent blend of spice oils, including clove, cinnamon and oregano, said to help clean and whiten the teeth, keep plaque at bay, and support healthy gums. In fact, clove and cinnamon oils have been found to be effective against plaque- and gum disease-causing bacteria in scientific studies.6 The liquid may also be useful for toothaches, thanks to clove's analgesic effects.7 Apply a few drops to your toothbrush, mix it with water to make a mouthwash, or apply it to a cotton ball and place against your gums.
100% Silk Floss, $8.98 (2 spools of 33 yards/60 meters total)
This innovative dental floss is 100 percent plastic-free and biodegradable, made with Mulberry silk and coated with natural plant wax (from the candelilla shrub). There's nothing else added—not the case with conventional floss, which is usually laced with synthetic chemicals. The attractive glass dispenser, which comes in a range of colors, is also plastic-free, and you can reuse it again and again in combination with the floss refills. There's also a vegan option made of bamboo charcoal instead of silk.