Yooohoooo, SIBO warriors!
As some of you know, I recently made the switch to low toxic body care products.
After getting some of my MRT results back, my FDN-P immediately suggested switching things like my shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, etc…. because I was sensitive to many of the chemicals loaded in these commercial products.
If you’re diving into the world of natural body and hair care (and are anything like me), you probably got immediately overwhelmed with all of the information that’s out there. There are SO many nasty chemicals in pretty much everything we use. It isn’t good for a healthy person, let alone someone with a chronic illness.
So, rather than letting myself get overwhelmed, trying to be super health guru in the process, I have decided to research and become educated on one type of product at a time. Because all digestion starts with the mouth, and many digestive disorders are linked to poor oral health, I figured I’d start with toothpaste, mouthwash, and all things oral care.
Here is my (hopefully useful) guide to low toxicity oral care!
The Bad Stuff
Now, I heard over and over that toothpaste is loaded with all sorts of bad chemicals that you shouldn’t use.
But why? What are these chemicals doing to our bodies? What should I avoid when looking for a new toothpaste? Let’s walk through what some of these toxic chemicals are and what they do to you + me.
This is probably the most common ingredient you’ll see in your toothpaste. There’s LOTS of debate over this particular ingredient. Dane Sorenson, host of Zero Doubt Zone, has an awesome, easy-to-understand video where he goes over what flouride is, the benefits, and the many, many studies shown that are linked to all kinds of diseases.
Crazy, isn’t it? While there are studies that show flouride does prevent tooth decay and strengthen enamel, at what cost? Sorenson reveals the many, many links to flouride use including Alzheimer’s, developmental neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, thyroid problems, lower IQ, increased lead absorption, arthritis, infertility, dementia, bone fracture, genetic damage, cell death, cancer, etc.
In addition to toothpaste, according to a 2014 report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 74.4% of the United States has flouridated their water. A simple Google search of your state should show you if your county has flouridated water, as well as the percentage.
I don’t know about y’all, but I’m switching my toothpaste + buying an iodized filter.
Triclosan, otherwise known as triclocarbon, microban, and biofresh, is an antibacterial and antifungal agent used in many household products (including our oral care). Its purpose is to stop, or slow, the growth of fungi, mold, and mildew. Watch more here and here to understand what triclosan is.
You guys… it was first introduced in 1969 AS A PESTICIDE. Like… the active chemical we use to kill bugs with…
Again, while it is an effective agent against various microorganisms, it can also cause an antibiotic resistance and has been linked to cancer, poor muscle function, altered hormone regulation, endocrine disruption, allergies, hormonal problems, and environmental hazards.
SCARY TIME: a recent government study showed that triclosan was present in 75% of Americans!
Triclosan was finally banned from antibacterial soaps, but is still in commercial toothpaste. Namely, Colgate. Why, you ask? I have no idea. Everything is a lie.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
SLS is a detergent and surfactant, which breaks surface tension and separates molecules to allow better interaction between the product and your hair, teeth, etc.
Basically–it creates that “foamy” or “soapy” effect when you’re brushing your teeth or washing your hair.
It’s often found along with Sodium Laureth Sulfate + Ammonium Laural Sulfate. It may be listed as sodium dodecyl sulfate, sulfuric acid, monododecyl ester, sodium salt, sodium salt sulfuric acid, aquarex me or aqaurex methyl.
Although SLS is derived from coconuts, it is contaminated with a toxic byproduct during the manufacturing process.
Check out And the Color Green’s take on SLS.
Basically–SLS isn’t as “bad” as other toxic chemicals. It’s not linked to cancer (that we know of right now) or any major illnesses. However, it is a known skin irritant, eye irritant, it’s linked to canker sores, the manufacturing process is highly polluting, emitting carcinogenic compounds into the environment, AND manufacturers tried to get approval to use it as an insecticide, but the application was denied because of its potential for environmental damage.
This little guy is a type of mineral oil that, in the industrial grade, is used in antifreeze, paints, enamels, and airplane de-icers. It’s a known skin, eye, and lung irritant and may cause organ system toxicity.
Another foaming agent and a hormone disruptor.
It can react with other ingredients to form a potential carcinogen called NDEA (N-nitrosodiethanolamine). This is readily absorbed through skin and has been linked to cancers of the stomach, esophagus, liver, and bladder.
Microbeads are those tiny little beads you’ve probably seen in your face wash when you were having a glorious girl’s night and washed your face like a queen.
They’re also in some toothpastes!
When these guys go down the drain + into the environment, they absorb toxins in the water, are eaten by a variety of marine life, and if you eat seafood–you’re essentially eating your dirty face…
On another note, microbeads in Crest toothpaste were found being trapped under patient’s gums. This can actually cause gum disease.
No thank you 🙂
Carrageenan, or carageenins, are a family of linear sulfated polysaccharides that are extracted from red edible seaweeds. According to Google, they are widely used in the food industry for their gelling, thickening, and stabilizing properties.
This article goes further into the problems with carrageenan:
Although derived from a natural source, it appears to be particularly destructive to the digestive system, triggering an immune response similar to that your body has when invaded by pathogens like Salmonella. The result: “It predictably causes inflammation, which can lead to ulcerations and bleeding,” explains veteran researcher Joanne Tobacman, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Illinois School of Medicine at Chicago.
The concern over food-grade carrageenan isn’t new. Beginning in the 1960s, researchers started linking the ingredient to gastrointestinal disease in lab animals, including ulcerative colitis, intestinal lesions, and colon cancer.
NOT something us SIBO sufferers need any more of! I gave up almond milk for this reason, but had no idea this stuff was lurking in my toothpaste!! Even in “healthier” toothpaste brand options like Tom’s and Jason’s.
Note: Many people believe artificial sweeteners are toxic to your health (that are found in your toothpaste). After reading Breaking the Vicious Cycle as well as the Fast Tract Diet, I personally don’t have a problem with saccharin in low or moderate doses. The whole ‘Splenda causes cancer’ phenomenon has no factual basis. Or rather, there’s no clear evidence that it causes cancer.
As for any other artificial sweetener in toothpaste, I’d say you should probably try to avoid it. Stevia is a more natural option.
“I get it. Commercial toothpaste is bad. What do I do now?”
It’s a lot to take in, I know. But once you know exactly what chemicals are lurking in your toothpaste, if you’re like me, you probably wanted to stop using them immediately. But what in the world should you look for?
I’d consider myself crunchy… but not enough that I didn’t want to still shower with soap and brush my teeth everyday.
If you’re SUPER hardcore, there are tons and tons of DIY toothpaste + oral care recipes out there. Here are just a few:
- The Paleo Mama’s Remineralizing Toothpaste
- Wellness Mama’s Homemade Toothpaste
- Holistic Habit’s Teeth Whitening Remedies
- StephDollStatus’s Nontoxic DIY Toothpaste
- Comfort Life Channel’s DIY Natural Whitening Mouthwash
- The Vegan Doll’s Mouth Wash, Oil Chews, Teeth Whitener, and Toothpaste Recipes
If you’re lazy like me, though, you’ll just want to buy your oral care products! The important thing to note here is if you’re going from completely commercial toothpastes STRAIGHT to all-natural, you’re probably going to hate it! It’s not going to be like brushing your teeth has been your whole life.
That’s why I’d first recommend starting with a brand like Tom’s OR Jason’s.
Tom’s has SLS and Jason’s does have carrageenan, both foaming agents to thicken the toothpaste, but just think about how many toxins you are NOT putting into your mouth, like you currently are right now.
The goal is not perfection, it’s less toxin intake.
However, once you’re ready to move on from those, my top oral care recommendations are:
1. Uncle Harry’s Toothpaste + Mouthwash (Favorite)
Cost: $6-$10 per 3 oz jar
Where can I buy this?: Uncle Harry’s is still a smaller company. I haven’t found their products at my local grocery stores. I buy mine off Amazon (which are often more expensive but I love my 2-day shipping), or you can save some money by purchasing their toothpaste off their website.
What to Expect: I LOVE LOVE LOVE this stuff. It’s very salty. Like so salty I was nauseous, brushed my teeth, and it really helped me feel better. It really does leave your teeth feeling clean without those nasty chemicals in your toothpaste. It may take some getting used to the taste, but I’d encourage you to try a whole jar. This is hands down my favorite non-toxic toothpaste.
They also have re-mineralization products for you teeth, mouthwash, tooth whitening kits, and anything else you might think of–all for pretty affordable prices! And they’re all so natural! Can’t brag enough on this company.
Side note: This stuff splatters everywhere if you have flimsy bristles. Just a warning 😉
Cost: $6-$7 per tube
Where can I buy this?: Earthpaste is at my local Whole Foods in the lower price range. However, if you’re not near a Whole Foods, or they don’t carry Earthpaste for some reason, you can buy on bulk at Amazon or on their website.
What to Expect: While this is also one of the cleanest toothpaste brands on the market–it leaves you with less of a “clean” feeling than Uncle Harry’s. The taste is much nicer than some of the other ones I’ve tried, but feels more like I am brushing paste onto my teeth, rather than getting them clean. Some people love this brand, though! It just takes some getting used to.
Doctor Scott on Youtube has some other great recommendations here (including these two brands).
There are plenty of other brands that are less toxic than commercial toothpastes, but after MUCH deliberation and research, these are the two brands I feel the most comfortable using to care for my oral hygiene.
AND I just ordered new BPA-free, bamboo toothbrushes that I am in LOVE with. Seriously, they come with 4 (so you can replace them every 3-4 months) so you have toothbrushes for the whole year! And they’re biodegradable!
I hope this helps!
I know I was very overwhelmed when starting my switch to non-toxic products and researching all of this has made me feel empowered and like I know how to care for myself. Whether you choose to use some of these chemicals in your body care products or not is up to you. I don’t think it’s “wrong” of anyone to continue to use flouride or any of these other chemicals. I just think it’s important to know what you’re putting into your body, so you can then make a well-informed decision.
Love ya SIBO warriors. More non-toxic guides to come 🙂