By Amanda Wilkes:
We always have been told to brush our teeth two to three times per day, to floss, and to use mouthwash. We seem to be drawn to merchandise that promises a whiter smile or fresher breath, and of course we all want our oral care to provide these qualities. But have we ever stopped to think about what is in the products that we use as often as we do? Unfortunately, the findings are quite disappointing: many toothpastes, plastic toothbrushes, flosses and mouthwashes contain harmful chemicals and toxins that can lead to serious health problems. Because of these concerns and because the mouth is the fastest way to absorb anything, many people are now considering a more holistic approach to their everyday oral care.
The number one chemical in most toothpaste is Sodium Fluoride, which claims to build and maintain strong, healthy teeth. Sadly, this ingredient is a byproduct of aluminum and can be found in many industrial pesticides and rat poison. You will also find harmful chemicals like Triclosan, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Propylene Glycol, and diethanolamine. Thankfully, there are plenty of toxin- and chemical-free tooth-pastes on the market that will get the job done without harming your body on a dai-ly basis. Find your perfect paste (below) or make your own recipe.
Try to imagine how many toothbrushes you have had in your life. (Probably several every year!) Each time you are finished with a plastic toothbrush, you are most likely going to throw it into the trash. Consider all the toothbrushes you and your family have thrown away over the years. That is a huge contribution to our ever growing plastic problem that continues to envelope our Mother Earth. A great natural alternative to plastic toothbrushes are bamboo toothbrushes. They are a natural product that will not harm our environment when thrown away. Another bonus is that bamboo is naturally resistant to many types of bacteria, which will make your toothbrush last much longer and make you mouth much healthier.
Yes, even dental floss can harm us and our world. Many floss products are made from nylon, a synthetic fiber derived from petroleum products. Petroleum is a non-sustainable resource, and impacts soil, ground water and ecosystems. Nylon takes nearly 50 years to break down in earth’s natural environment. Most floss is coated in a petroleum-based wax that can pollute water sources and harm wildlife. Considering that Americans buy over three million miles of dental floss every year, we should deem this extremely harmful! Floss picks are a great alternative because they use only one inch of product rather than the average 18 inches per use; however, they also use plastic, which is another issue. The best thing to do is to go to your natural health store, co-op, or do your research online to find a floss that uses natu-ral, biodegradable ingredients and does not use harmful plastic dispensers.
On most name brand mouthwashes is a label warning the consumer to not drink the mouthwash; however, you are innocently ingesting many chemicals while simply rinsing. Some of these chemicals include Thymol, Eucalyptol, Hexetidine, methyl salicylate, Benzalkonium chloride, Cetylpyridinium Chloride, Methyl paraben, hydrogen per ox-ide and alcohol.These chemicals have been known to cause health problems related to respiratory, nervous, reproductive and neural systems; unstable heartbeats; muscle pain; plaque buildup; breast tumors; even death. To switch up your mouthwash regimen, look for a mouthwash that uses essential oils like peppermint witch hazel, cinnamon, spear-mint, or clove bud.
To easily amp up your oral care practices, consider oil pulling! Simply swish one ta-blespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes to get rid of the harmful bacteria in your mouth. The way it works is simple: when you swish the oil around your mouth, the bacteria “get stuck” in it and dissolve in the liquid oil. Oil pulling studies have shown a reduction in harmful bacteria, plaque, gingivitis and bad breath. Don’t forget to brush your teeth once you are finished!
Alternative Oral Care Products (See Below)
What are your favorite oral care practices and products?