Toothpaste is a common, everyday item, but have you ever read its contents? Commercial dental-care pastes usually contain one or more of these teeth/gum damaging ingredients — triclosan, fluoride, polyethylene glycols, surfactants (a.k.a. foaming agents such as sodium lauryl sulfate), toxic metals, artificial sugars, glycerin, hydrated silica and sodium hydroxide. Also, these ingredients are often found in so-called natural brands of toothpaste. It is wise to read all labels very carefully.
This article covers three common ingredients found in toothpastes and throws light on their pros and cons.
One of the most common components of toothpaste is fluoride. In simple terms, fluoride is a by-product of aluminum, copper, and iron manufacturing. Fluoride is thought to be a contaminant. It is a chemical ion of the chemical fluorine, where fluoride has one extra electron to give it an extra charge. The most common use of fluoride is in the realm of dental hygiene.
Long before fluoride come unto its own as a cavity preventer, it was used as insecticide. Today, there are conflicting views on the use of fluoride, and there is an ongoing debate on how good or bad it is for health.
The pros of fluoride
Fluoride works in two ways to protect teeth from decay and cavities. The combination of sugars and bacteria in the mouth produce an acid that causes tooth enamel erosion that damages the teeth. Fluoride protects the teeth from this demineralization. If the teeth are already damaged, fluoride starts collecting on the ‘spoilt’ areas, and the enamel is strengthened. However, fluoride will not be of much use if a cavity already exists.
Some level of fluoride is recommended by many governments in the world today for both children and adults. Children require fluoride to protect their new, permanent teeth, while adults need it to ensure there are no cavities or decays taking form.
The cons of fluoride
According to latest studies carried out by the ADA, Fluoride is fast being regarded as potentially dangerous element being sold under the guise of “good for teeth”. Slowly but surely, a fluoride-free propaganda is being put in to place to ensure there is no more exposure to it. As of now, Dementia in humans, due to exposure to fluoride, is said to double in the next two decades and triple in three.
There are many negatives that have been discovered by researchers. Some of these are simple things like:
- Excess fluoride causes discolored and crumbling teeth
- Laboratory animal testing has shown that fluoride influences an increase in the absorption of aluminum in the brain. Aluminum is what is found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s.
- Fluoridation and hip fractures have been seen as related in as many as three different studies conducted by researchers.
- Excess fluoride has had detrimental effects on the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. This has lead to limited joint mobility, muscular degeneration, ligament calcification, and neurological deficits.
- Different studies have found a link between fluoride and about 10,000 cancer deaths per year, where men who were exposed to fluoride in the long term developed a greater likelihood of suffering from bone cancer.
Neem is a tree found predominantly in India. Its benefits are many and among them is its usefulness in dental hygiene. To date, in the interiors of rural India, the tender bark of the Neem tree is used as teeth cleaner by people.
Neem’s special alkaloids and liminoids wonderfully clean the teeth. Neem prevents both cavities and gum disease. It treats gingivitis and swollen/bleeding gums. Neem leaf and neem seed oil are part of a fast-growing evergreen tree. Neem is antiviral and it is anti-bacterial. It also has astringent, antiseptic, antifungal, antiparasitic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Neem has the following benefits:
- Helps prevent and heal gum disease
- Eliminates bacteria that cause gum inflammation
- Ensures bacteria does not stick to your teeth thereby reducing plaque
- Enhances mouth immunity in general
- Freshens the breath like no mouth freshener can ever duplicate
Neem is very strong digestive system cleanser, you should avoid taking it internally as you may experience serious detoxification. Always consult a practitioner before changing any of your daily habits.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree Oil has been used by aborigines for centuries as an antiseptic and disinfectant. Tea tree is also known as Melaleuca. This oil has excellent curative properties for three human health dangers, namely, virus, fungus and bacteria. For gum diseases, this oil is fast becoming popular although in its natural form it is considered to be poisonous.
Tea tree oil is best used when it is part of a toothpaste. Any contact with mouth or skin in this raw state may cause allergies and irritation. You must use tea tree oil only after consulting your dental health provider.
Care for teeth naturally
While brushing and rinsing has its own place in your daily dental hygiene routine, there are some natural ways to ensure that you always sport a perfect set of teeth. There is a lot to be said for home remedies, most of which have been handed down through the centuries:
- If you rub your teeth with bay leaf twice a week, you get sparkling white teeth
- Flossing is the ideal way for healthy gums to remain healthy
- You should change your toothbrush post a cold or fever, as your old one will be carrying viruses and bacteria
- Use natural teeth cleaners like crunchy foods
- Raw apples, celery, and carrots do a good job of cleaning your teeth while you eat them
- Avoid pasty foods like peanut butter. They stick to the teeth and are a welcome invitation for tooth decay
- Cheese has calcium that will coat your teeth and help fight tooth decay
- Natural apple cider vinegar strengthens teeth from the inside
- Rinse your mouth after drinking natural apple cider vinegar, but don’t brush your teeth right after
Next, time you buy a toothpaste, make sure to check its ingredients. For instance, check your toothpaste for the amount of fluoride it contains. Fluoride-free toothpastes are also available in the market. A sensible approach to dental hygiene will ensure you have a set of sparkling teeth and fresh breath at all times.
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