Since the dawn of time we have been trying to freshen our breath and whiten our teeth. Now it’s been revealed that the very products we are using could be doing more harm than good.

Our herbal toothpaste sea-change came about because of my husband’s constant complaint of mouth ulcers. After a little research and staying away from the key ulcer causing ingredients he has gone from 10 ulcers in his mouth at a time to only the occasional one in times of high stress.

Perusing the ingredients list of a tube of commercial toothpaste can yield a laundry list of chemicals, additives, detergents, thickeners, stabilisers, flavours and sweeteners. These very small molecules can penetrate the tissue of your mouth, entering the blood stream, and build up in the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs and tissues. Reading a list of ingredients and their uses on a toothpaste company’s website you can be forgiven for believing all those chemicals are necessary and beneficial for you. But like every story, there are two sides that need to be told so you can make the best decision for your health.

When you consider that the mucous membranes of the mouth have an absorption rate of over 90 percent, and we clean our teeth twice a day, the carcinogens in toothpaste can get into your blood, brain and cells in no time at all. Plus you probably swallow it sometimes too! Are these things really safe to ingest? There’s a reason we have to spit toothpaste out… it’s not really that good for us!

Regardless of where you sit on the fluoride debate, there are many ingredients in your toothpaste that could be accumulating in your body: sodium lauryl sulphate, triclosan, hydrated silica, propylene glycol, diethanolamine, artificial sweeteners, dyes and artificial colourings and sodium fluoride are common ingredients.

Natural toothpastes, however, are free from fluoride, detergents, synthetic fragrances, colours and preservatives. The kind of stuff that you might not want to be putting directly into your body. However it’s important to note that just because a product is sold at a natural food store, it doesn’t mean that its ingredients are all natural. If you don’t know what an ingredient is on the list, it probably isn’t natural.

To play it really safe, you can always make your own toothpaste at home. Take 1tsp baking soda, ½ tsp fine salt, 1 drop of peppermint, spearmint, sweet orange, clove or cinnamon bark essential oil and mix to form a paste. Simple, inexpensive, odor-eliminating and teeth whitening!

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