The Main Ingredient For A Healthy Smile

Here's a fun a little game to play with your girlfriends at brunch. Ask them to list off the ingredients in their toothpaste. Then, watch them stare back at you blankly. Blinking.

OK, so maybe this isn't a fun game per se, but it is important to know. Especially because the average person has never looked at what's inside their toothpaste, despite the fact that they ingest it twice a day, every day-probably more than anything else we swallow on a regular basis (you do swallow a little every time you use it). The ingredients inside some commercial brands are of questionable benefit and are just plain bad for you, says Beverly Hills, CA, dentist Harold Katz, DDS.

That's why it's important to be aware (and wary) of the following ingredients:

FD&C blue dye No. 2: A commonly used toothpaste dye, it is one of several on the list of additives to avoid, says the Center for Science in the Public Interest. It's said to be linked to learning, behavioral and health problems, severe allergic reactions and headaches.

Sodium lauryl sulfate: The American College of Toxicology reports that this ingredient in cosmetics and industrial cleaning agents can cause skin corrosion and irritation. Doses of .8 to 110 grams/kilogram in lab rats caused depression, labored breathing, diarrhea and death in four out of every 20 rats.

Triclosan: An anti-microbial ingredient, the federal Environmental Protection Agency lists triclosan as a pesticide and regulates its use in over-the-counter toothpastes and hand soaps.

Saccharin and aspartame: Both of these artificial sweeteners are on the Center for Science in the Public Interest's list of additives to avoid.

Also, keep in mind that sodium lauryl sulfate, a harsh detergent in some toothpastes, has been linked to canker sores. But now that you know, here's to happy (more informed) brushing!

Related:
Ask an Expert: Whitening Toothpastes
A Massage to Protect Against Cavities


10 Comments
  • Posted on

    It depends on the pimple, for example, if the pimple is caused by bacteria then a plain white toothpaste could calm it a little. But if the pimple is caused by excess oil production or dead skin cells, then you will have to use products that contain salicylic acid, because toothpaste will not work. Another alternative to toothpaste is benzoyl peroxide, which kills bacteria rather than neutralizing the acids produced by the bacteria. Personally, I would never put toothpaste on a pimple.

  • april
    Posted on

    What about putting toothpaste on pimples to draw out the inpurities? Is that a myth??

  • Posted on

    Great article and good information about ingredients and the Rotodent Brush. When our grandchildren spend the night, it's easy to get them to brush, as long as we have fun toothbrushes and a colorful tubes of toothpaste. It's usually Weleda or Tom's of Maine. They're 100 percent natural and have organic ingredients. There's a better selection of toothpaste now and reading the ingredients of what you put in and on your body is getting easier...thank goodness!

  • Posted on

    Huge difference....the Rotodent is a site specific rotary brush that has very soft filaments instead of brushes and the purpose is to allow the head of the brush to go into the gum crevice to clean out any plaque...It should be used at least once daily. It is sold via dental offices so I am sure a dentist in your area has them. You could probably find out by contacting Zila Dental...the distributor for the Rotadent brush...they are on Google.

  • Janet
    Posted on

    Dr. Goldstein, I've never heard of the Rotadent. My denise suggested an electric toothbrush like a Sonicare. What's the difference?

  • Posted on

    I am not sure since I am not using that brand but you can go to most any large drugstore and look at the ingredients that are listed on the outside of the box or you can call the 800 number the manufacturer lists.

  • Posted on

    I don't think you need to worry for most national brands unless you happen to be allergic to one of the ingredients as Dr. Katz outlines. However, my advice is to use just a dab of the toothpaste on your brush. Many of my patients who use the Rotodent brush also dip their brush head into Listerine instead of using toothpaste.

  • hanna
    Posted on

    so what kind of toothpaste should i be looking for?

  • anonymous
    Posted on

    Never expected my toothpaste could be the cause of my headaches. Going to read the ingredients when I get home.

  • anonymous
    Posted on

    i've never thought to look at the ingredients in my toothpaste before- checking from now on though!

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