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Surprisingly, most baby toothpastes in the market have harmful ingredients in them. Not all baby toothpastes are safe. Toxic ingredients in toothpaste can cause several harmful health effects including cancer. Even if baby doesn’t swallow the toothpaste, toxic ingredients can get into baby’s system by getting absorbed through skin or the lining of the mouth. Each chemical is added to provide a certain benefit for toothpaste. For example, chemicals are added to make toothpaste foam, kill bacteria or taste good. However, these benefits are not worth it to risk and develop sickness from these chemicals. Experts say fluoride toothpaste prevents tooth decay more effectively than natural or organic baby toothpaste which is fluoride-free. However, I am not comfortable having my baby swallow a chemical that kills rats and insects even if it is a tiny amount. (read my previous posting ‘Does Your Baby Need Fluoride toothpaste or Fluoride-Free Toothpaste?‘)
So what harmful ingredients does baby toothpaste have and how toxic are they? Let’s look at common toxic chemical ingredients in baby toothpaste.
Toxic Chemicals In Baby Toothpaste
Fluoride is used to prevent tooth decay in toothpaste. However, it is also used in rodenticides and pesticides to kill rats and insects. It is more toxic than lead. Chronic exposure to Fluoride can cause dental fluorosis, crippling skeletal fluorosis, arthritis, bone fracture, brain effects, cancer, cardiovascular disease, endocrine disruption, kidney disease, thyroid disease, etc. (read Fluoride & Health) Children are vulnerable ingesting fluoride during brushing teeth since over 95% of toothpaste sold in US contains fluoride. (read Dental Products)
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a foaming agent which makes products like toothpaste, shampoo, shower gel or dishsoap foam. It can be listed as sodium salt sulfuric acid, sulfuric acid, monododecyl ester, sodium salt, monododecyl ester sodium salt sulfuric acid, sodium dodecyl sulfate, aquarex me or aquarex methyl. It comes from coconuts, however, the chemical is anything but natural. During manufacturing process, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane. Ethylene oxide and is a known human carcinogen and 1,4 dioxane is a possible human carcinogen. Also when sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is mixed with triethanolamine (or T.E.A) during processing, NDELA (N-nitrosodiethanolamine) is formed. NDELA (N-nitrosodiethanolamine) is nitrosamine, a known carcinogen. There are about 16000 studies talking about toxicity of sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) can cause organ toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, irritation of the skin and eyes, possible mutations and cancer. (Read Deadly and Dangerous Shampoos, Toothpastes, and Detergents.)
Parabens are used as preservatives in many cosmetic products to stop the growth of fungus and bacteria. They can be absorbed through skin. They mimic estrogen and disrupt hormone function. They have been detected in breast cancer tissues so there is a concern that they may be linked to breast cancer. They can be listed as ethylparaben, methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, and isobutylparaben. (read Parabens.)
Artificial color is used to make a toothpaste look colorful so it is appealing, especially to children. FD&C dyes are made from petroleum. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) did the study and found that FD & C blue #1 caused cancer in rats. Also, some studies have found that FD & C Blue Dyes 1 & 2 are linked to behavioral, learning and health problems. FD & C color dyes can also cause allergic reactions, nausea, asthma attacks, immune system tumors, urinary bladder tumors, kidney tumors, brain tumors, organ damage, birth defect, etc. Almost all dyes cause negative health effects and many are linked to cancer. (read Adverse Effects of “inactive” ingredients.)
Saccharin is an artificial sweetener made from coal tar. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar. In the rodent studies, Saccharin was linked to cause bladder cancer. Saccharin also causes diarrhea, allergic reactions, skin rashes, headaches and breathing issues. (read Saccharin: Avoid This Artificial Sweetener.) However, the study of saccharin was done again and it concluded that Saccharin does cause bladder cancer in rats but not in humans. So this artificial sweetener which was almost banned by FDA in 1972, is now considered to be safe again. However, there has been long debate if Saccharin can cause cancer in humans or not. Saccharin is made by combining anthranilic acid with sulfur dioxide, nitrous acid, chlorine, and ammonia. Chlorine and ammonia are known to be toxic. I believe it is best to avoid this ingredient and not take any chances.
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener and it is 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is metabolized in your body into both wood alcohol and formaldehyde. Wood alcohol is a poison. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen and it doesn’t go out of your system through your liver and kidneys. It causes brain tumors, weight gain, birth defects and cancers. (read Sugar-Free Blues and Toxic Toothpaste Ingredients You Need To Avoid)
Triclosan is an antibacterial agent and also is used as a preservative. It can pass through skin and disrupts hormone function or causes allergies. There are some concerns that Triclosan is linked to birth defects or cancer. When triclosan breaks down, it turns into dioxin. Dioxin is a carcinogen. (read Triclosan: Is This Hazardous Toxin In Your Toothpaste? and FDA Finally Bans Toxic Triclosan From Antibacterial Hand Soaps.)
Propylene glycol is a form of mineral oil and it is petroleum-based. It is used as a solvent to absorb extra water or maintain moisture in toothpaste. It is also listed as methyl glycol, 1,2-dihydroxypropane, 1,2-propanediol, and trimethyl glycol. This chemical can get rapidly absorbed through the skin. It can also enter the body by breathing air that contains propylene glycol. It is dangerous for children under 4 years old, pregnant women or people with kidney dysfunction. They are not able to eliminate propylene glycol in the body so it will be harmful to their health. Propylene glycol also causes allergic reactions or skin irritation. (read Darkside of Propylene Glycol and Propylene Glycol: The Complicated Additive With Potentially Dangerous Side Effects.)
Glycerin is in many toothpastes and it can actually harm your teeth according to Dr. Gerard Judd. He said that glycerin coats teeth with a residue that is very difficult to remove. It requires about 20 rinses to get it off. The problem is this coating blocks natural flow of teeth’ remineralization process and this could result tooth decay. (Read What’s the problem with the Glycerin in toothpaste?) However, there are also debates whether a glycerin-based toothpaste prevents remineralization of teeth or not. Some people doubt that glycerin-based toothpaste can do that. ((Read Glycerin and Remineralization of Teeth.)
Carrageenan is used as a binder, thickening agent and stabilizer in toothpaste. Carrageenan is derived from seaweed. However, if you mix seaweed with an acidic solution, degraded carrageenan is made. Degraded carrageenan is usually used in drug trial labs to encourage inflammation or cause diseases in lab animals. Joanne Tobacman, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at theUniversity of Illinois at Chicago says that degraded carrageenan and food-grade carrageenan are both hazardous to our health. Animal studies concluded that carrageenan is linked to gastrointestinal inflammation, intestinal lesions, ulcerations, and even malignant tumors. Carrageenan is also used as a food additive in many organic foods. In 2016, National Organics Standards Board voted to ban carrageenan from organic products. The United States Department of Agriculture will make a final decision whether to ban carrageenan or not in 2018. (Read What Is Carrageenan? Is It Dangerous?)
Diethanolamine (DEA) is a foaming agent in toothpaste. It is hormone disrupting chemical and it can react with other ingredients to form carcinogenic nitrosamines. It is linked with liver organ toxicity, cancer, stomach cancer, and bladder cancer. It is ranked with the most toxic score 10 by The Environmental Working Group (EWG). Also The California Environmental Protection Agency says Diethanolamine (DEA) is a possible human carcinogen.
Artificial Flavors are made of more than 100 chemicals and manufacturers do not have to list these chemicals on the product. Usually 80 to 90 percent of artificial flavors are made of solvents, emulsifiers, flavor modifiers and preservatives. (read Natural Flavors VS Artificial Flavors.) Artificial flavors are known to cause cause chest pain, headaches, fatigue, nervous system depression, allergies, and even brain damage, seizures, nausea, dizziness, and many more. (Read Dangers of Artificial Flavorings.)
Safe Baby Toothpaste
So which toothpastes are safe for your baby? If you look at the ingredient list in toothpastes, you will find that it is very hard to find safe toothpastes. So many toothpastes have several toxic ingredients. That is why some people make their own toothpaste. Here are some baby toothpastes that I feel safe.
Redmond Earthpaste is made from only five natural ingredients. There are no toxic ingredients such as fluoride, carrageenan, SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) or other foaming agents, glycerine, parabens and many other.
Their main ingredient is Redmond Clay, a healing clay that has been used medicinally since ancient times. Like many natural foods (including peaches and pears) Redmond Clay contains the tiniest amount of naturally-occurring lead. However, amount of this naturally-occurring lead in Redmond Clay is less than half of the lead found in spinach, sweet potato or brussels sprouts. The lead from Redmond Clay is also not bio-available. It actually attracts lead in your body, pass through your system and get rid of it. Therefore, trace amount of lead in this toothpaste is safe. (See studies done on this.)
Both children or adults can use this toothpaste.
Ingredients: water, Redmond Clay, Real Salt, xylitol (non-GMO certified xylitol ), and essential oils (Cinnamon, Wintergreen, Lemon, Tangerine, Lime, or Peppermint).
Jack N Jill Natural Toothpaste
Jack N’ Jill Natural toothpaste uses Xylitol instead of Fluoride. Xylitol helps keep a neutral PH level in the mouth. It also prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth and protects teeth from tooth decay.
Jack N’ Jill Natural toothpaste also uses organic ingredients: organic Calendula to soothe gums, organic natural blueberry for flavor. There is no fluoride, SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) or other foaming agents, sugar, carrageenan, artificial colors & flavors, preservatives and other toxic ingredients.
*This toothpaste doesn’t contain the most of the toxic ingredients that can cause severe health effects. However, it contains glycerin which some people believe it prevents re-mineralization process of teeth. However, some people are not convinced that glycerin based toothpaste can do that. (Read Glycerin and Remineralization of Teeth.) If you are worried about glycerin, you can go for the Earthpaste toothpaste.
Xylitol, Purified Water, Vegetable Glycerin (from coconut), Silica, Certified Organic Natural Flavor* (Blueberry, Blackcurrant, Strawberry, Raspberry, Banana), Xanthan Gum, Certified Organic Calendula Officinalis Extract**
* USDA Certified Organic Ingredient
** NASAA Certified Organic & Biodynamic Ingredient
**Natural Strawberry Banana Flavor
What do you think?
Which toothpaste are you using? Please leave me a comment!