Over the past few years, I’ve been working to reduce the number of skin- and personal-care products I use on a daily basis, and transitioning to natural products whenever possible. It’s been hit-or-miss on occasion, but with a little trial and error I have been able to find quality alternatives that meet my needs.
Toothpaste—at least in our house—is a product that’s hard to agree on; I love Earthpaste, but my partner isn’t quite as fond of it. So, in an attempt to keep both of our mouths happy, we’ve been experimenting with Tom’s of Maine.
Tom’s has quite a few flavors and dental products available, including many that are SLS- and fluoride-free. However, upon a bit of research, I discovered that a handful of their products are ranked as moderately hazardous (3 out of 10) by the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep Database.
Ingredients of Concern
Sodium Flouride: Ranked 5 out of 10 (moderately hazardous) by the EWG, sodium fluoride is often the active ingredient in many types of toothpaste. Initially used to prevent cavities, new research has shown that fluoride can actually degrade connective tissues, creating “pockets” in gums that may allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream and cause infection.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): This is the ingredient that my partner seems to miss the most since the switch to natural toothpaste. Even though SLS provides no added benefit, it does gives products the sudsing we’re used to in soaps, shampoos and toothpastes. Although the EWG rates this ingredient as low hazard, prolonged use may lead to cold sensitivity and increased occurrence of canker sores.
Hydrated Silica: Also ranked as a low hazard by the EWG, hydrated silica is a crystallized compound found in quartz, flint and sand. This naturally occurring compound is used as a whitening agent in toothpaste, but is also abrasive enough to damage tooth enamel.
As we become a more health-conscious society, limiting the number of toxins in our homes has become a larger priority. Personal care routines shouldn’t be an exception, even though simplifying these routines isn’t always easy—trust me, I know—it’s well worth it in the end.