Did You Know

The average American uses over 20 gallons of toothpaste in a lifetime.

Your mouth is highly vascular and absorbent, so any chemicals in your toothpaste have an easy access into the bloodstream.  That means, whatever is in that toothpaste has access to all the systems of your body. Here are some ingredients to look out for when choosing your perfect toothpaste. 

Triclosan– is a synthetic antimicrobial chemical designed to kill bacteria.  This chemical is used in many popular toothpaste brands as an antibacterial agent.  In 1969 triclosan was registered as a pesticide and therefore is regulated by the FDA.  According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, Triclosan has been linked to endocrine disruption, cancer, birth defects and creating antibiotic resistant bacteria, amongst other concerns still being researched (weatherly, Goss 2017).   This chemical has been banned in some states but is still widely used in toothpaste and other cosmetics such as makeup, hand soaps and hair products. The use of triclosan in toothpaste could be more risky because it may be absorbed and reach systemic circulation through the mucous membrane of the oral cavity (Lin 2000).

According to the FDA, “animal studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation.”  This chemical is also toxic to aquatic animals and is being flushed and rinsed down sinks and toilets daily.  According to the Center for disease control and prevention, triclosan has been found in 58% of waterways (Dangers of Triclosan, 2012).  Studies have shown that patients with a high concentration of triclosan in their urine were also more likely to have allergies and to avoid use in children due the possibility of allergies, asthma and eczema (Triclosan Exposure and Allergic Sensitization in Norwegian Children, 2012).

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)– is a surfactant which is a chemical responsible for the foaming action in most toothpaste. According to the American Chemical Society, SLS has been linked with reducing function of taste buds by breaking phospholipids on the tongue (Woodward, 2018).  This enhances a bitter taste which is thought to be linked with why everything tastes so bad after brushing.  There is also evidence of this additive being linked to canker sores and should be avoided for people who have reoccurring sores (A strategy for canker sore prevention, 2015).  According to Dr. Ethan Schuman, several studies show that participants who brush with SLS-free toothpaste reduce the frequency of canker sore recurrence, by as much as 81% (A strategy for canker sore prevention, 2018).

One of the main issues with SLS is in the manufacturing process (ethoxylation).  This process results in a potential contamination with 1,4 dioxane which is a carcinogenic byproduct.  This process also releases carcinogenic volatile organic compounds into the environment and may have a toxic effect on marine life (Bondi et al, 2015).  According to the Environmental working groups skin deep cosmetic safety database, SLS has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritant and endocrine disruption (Eisenbraun, 2019).  The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has confirmed that SLS causes thinning of tissue along with skin irritation (Neppelberg et al, 2007). Because SLS makes your tissue more permeable (thinner) this allows the other toxic ingredients in products to absorb faster and in larger amounts into the bloodstream.  If digested SLS can cause nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.  The American college of toxicology recommends less than 1% concentration in products and even at this concentration are not recommended for prolonged use. For this reason, using this product in toothpaste may not be to your advantage due to the fact you will be brushing your teeth over a lifetime.

Artificial coloring– these are used to make the toothpaste an esthetically pleasing color.  According to a study conducted by neurotherapeutics, artificial coloring has been linked to ADHD in children (Arnold et al, 2012).

Titanium DioxideMost titanium dioxide (close to 70 percent) is used as a pigment in paints, but it’s also added to cosmetics, toothpastes, pharmaceuticals, paper and food. … The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies titanium dioxide as a Group 2B carcinogen, which means it’s “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” (“Hidden brain risk in foods and cosmetics,”2016)

It’s unclear what health risks may be linked to ingestion of titanium dioxide nanoparticles, but research suggests there’s cause for concern. One animal study published in Cancer Research, for instance, found titanium dioxide nanoparticles may induce clastogenicity (causing breaks in chromosomes), genotoxicity, oxidative DNA damage and inflammation (Benedicte et al,2019). The researchers suggested they may be a cause of cancer or genetic disorders and concluded:5“These results have been observed after only 5 days of treatment via drinking water, and in multiple organs suggesting a systemic effect …We also showed that in utero exposure to TiO2 NPs [titanium dioxide nanoparticles] results in an increased frequency in DNA deletions in the fetus.… These data suggest that we should be concerned about a potential risk of cancer or genetic disorders especially for people occupationally exposed to high concentrations of TiO2 NPs and that it might be prudent to limit ingestion of TiO2 NPs through nonessential drug additives, food colors etc.”(“Hidden brain risk in foods and cosmetie.”2016).  Due to these risks this may not be the most beneficial ingredient to have in something you are putting in your mouth twice or more times a day.    

Propylene Glycol- Propylene glycol is a synthetic liquid substance that absorbs water. Propylene glycol is also used to make polyester compounds, and as a base for deicing solutions. Propylene glycol is used by the chemical, food, and pharmaceutical industries as an antifreeze when leakage might lead to contact with food. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified propylene glycol as an additive that is “generally recognized as safe” for use in food and cosmetics (public health stat4ement for propylene glycol,1997).  According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, frequent exposures to propylene glycol can cause skin irritation.  Propylene glycol also increases skin permeability which gives any other chemicals in cosmetics fast access to the bloodstream. 

Fluoride- fluoride has been shown to help reduce tooth decay but with a price.  In a small amount fluoride can help remineralize teeth but if more than recommended is ingested it can cause tooth decay, dark and white spots on teeth, skeletal fluorosis and toxicity.  For this reason, fluoride is regulated by the FDA and has a warning on all toothpaste stating that if you ingest more than used for brushing to call poison control immediately.  The issue is that fluoride is not only in your toothpaste, mouthwash and other dental products but it is also in most city water supplies, processed foods, bottled water and pharmaceutical drugs.  That being said, it would be almost impossible to regulate your daily dosage.  Fluoride is naturally occurring in nature but the fluoride in your food, water and dental products could be a biproduct of phosphate fertilizers and not from naturally occurring sources.  According to Medical News Today, in some cases excess fluoride can damage the parathyroid gland resulting in hyperparathyroidism, which can deplete calcium in the bones and blood (Cross, 2018).  In 2014 fluoride was documented as a neurotoxin that could be hazardous to childhood development (Cross,2018).  There is always a need for more research to be conducted but what we do know is fluoride is considered a drug by the FDA and is to be used with caution.      

Work Cited

Benedicte, Troiller, Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles Induce DNA Damage and Genetic Instability in Vivo in mice, 2009 http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/69/22/8784

Arnold, Eugene. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, 2012. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3441937/

Neppelberg, E. Us National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. 2007. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17576237

Eisenbraun, Karen. Livestrong.com. 2019.


Woodward, Aylin. Live Science. 2018.


A Strategy for Canker Sore Prevention-Causes and Triggers. 2015.

https://quantumhealth.com/research-articles/article/a-strategy-for-canker-sore-prevention- causes-and-triggers

Burhenne, Mark. Eperiencelife. 2019.


The Scoop on Titanium Dioxide in Cosmetics. 2018.


Hidden Brain Risk in Food and Cosmetics. 2016.

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/01/20/titanium-dioxide- nanoparticles-health-risks.aspx

Bertelsen, Randi, et all. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. 2013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3515701/

Public Health Statement for Propylene Glycol. 1997.


Edwards, Rebekah. Dr, Axe Food is Medicine., 2018.


Weatherly,Lisa. Gosse,Julie. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6126357/#R150

Toxicology Data Network. 2018.

https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/a?dbs+hsdb:@[email protected]+174