However the definition of “natural” is not regulated, particularly if the toothpaste is non-fluoride. Fluoride toothpastes are considered a drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are therefore regulated. Non-fluoride toothpastes, however, are considered cosmetics and it’s “up to the manufacturers to be careful with their labeling,” according to the FDA.
Meanwhile, natural means that a product is free from artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. It may still contain highly processed ingredients, such as fluorides, abrasives and humectants.
One brand of natural toothpaste, Tom’s of Maine, was purchased by Colgate-Palmolive last year and became the first natural toothpaste to receive the Seal of Acceptance from the American Dental Association (ADA).
The seal does not necessarily mean that the ADA endorses a product, only that it is effective and does what it says it will do, the ADA pointed out.
In short, it remains a “buyer beware” environment for natural products, including toothpastes. But there are now more toothpaste options available than ever, which allows each person to make their own choice. Typical toothpaste is regulated as a drug by the FDA because an average tube contains enough fluoride to kill a small child. Most people in the United States have been living under the false assumption that fluoride toothpaste is essential to preventing cavities, when in reality it is a dangerous poison.
Too much fluoride can lead to fluorosis, a discoloring of your teeth and breakdown of enamel -- itself a result diametrically opposed to the dental health it supposedly is meant to prevent -- and more serious developmental problems such as lower IQ. Excessive use of fluoride also increases your risk of osteoporosis and can damage your nervous system, not to mention its links to:
- Developmental and reproductive toxicity
- Endocrine disruption
- Organ system toxicity
Others are seeking natural toothpastes because they’re catching on to the importance of limiting your exposure to as many artificial chemicals as possible. And rest assured that fluoride is not the only skeleton hiding in your typical toothpaste’s closet.
A quick reading of the ingredients in one leading brand of toothpaste reveals:
- Triclosan: A preservative and cosmetic biocide that has been linked to endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity, and bioaccumulation
- Sodium lauryl sulfate: A cleansing agent linked to cancer and developmental and reproductive toxicity
- Tetrasodium pyrophosphate: An oral care agent that animal studies have found impact your brain and nervous system at low doses
- Hydrated silica: An anticaking agent that bioaccumulates in people and wildlife
- FD&C Blue 1: An artificial coloring linked to cancer
- Sodium monofluorophosphate: An oral care agent linked to neurotoxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and possibly cancer.
- Sodium lauryl sulfate: Same as above.
Look for a simple natural, non-fluoride toothpaste with only familiar ingredients, and skip all of the bells and whistles like “whitening,” “enamel strengthening,” and “multi-action.” If you’re looking for a safe way to make your teeth whiter, you can try this truly natural formula using strawberries and baking soda.