Is Your Toothpaste Toxic??

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In all reality, bad oral health is known to contribute to heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other conditions (not to mention physical and financial pain involved in dental work). So obviously we want to cleanse, clean, and protect our oral wellbeing as much as possible.

There are several chemicals lurking in your home that aren’t doing your body, mind, or spiritual connection any favors. In fact, they may be doing just the opposite.

This beggs the question: “If I don’t swallow my toothpaste, do these chemicals even matter?”

The short answer YES!! These chemicals absolutely matter!!

Even though you don’t swallow your toothpaste, you still may receive negative results that you may not even realize are related to your toothpaste.

And there is a very thin barrier under your tongue that provides contents in your mouth to be absorbed directly into your blood stream, which is why many liquid supplements and medications are taken “sublingually” or dripped under your tongue.

This is often a difficult concept to track down. If you apply something to your skin, it takes 26 seconds to absorb into your body and circulate through your bloodstream. But what about putting something in your mouth?? The concept is the same, but the way your mouth works basically gives these chemicals direct access to your bloodstream. And let’s face it… even when not meaning to swallow toothpaste or mouthwash, we still end up with a small residual amount that finds its way into our stomach.

Harmful Chemicals Added To Most Toothpastes

Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) is Added To Most Toothpastes

Titanium dioxide is a chemical compound added to bleach toothpaste to look white in color. This chemical doesn’t provide any oral benefit. It’s a sneaky marketing trick used solely to appeal to people who like bright white toothpaste, and associate bright white toothpaste to bright white teeth.

Titanium dioxide may cause irritation to your mouth and throat. There is very little safety data on it, but some animal studies have found it to be carcinogenic, specifically linked to lung cancer. It’s also classified as “possible carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Research conducted by Escuela Superior de Medicina at Instituto Politécnico Nacional found that titanium dioxide had a toxic effect on glial cells in the brain, suggesting that exposure to titanium dioxide may cause brain injury, and be a health hazard. The good thing is you can do a heavy metal detox to help your body purge any titanium dioxide that may be hiding out or stuck.

Triclosan is Added To Most Toothpastes

Triclosan is a pesticide added to many consumer products as an antibacterial agent. In 2016 the US FDA removed it from most hand sanitizers, antibacterial soaps, and body washes because of consumer outrage when more and more people started learning about harmful ingredients in common household products… but what few people realize is that same antibacterial agent is often found in toothpaste too (definitely NOT somewhere I’d want harmful chemicals to lurk). The FDA did NOT call for it to be removed from toothpaste.

There have been numerous animal studies linking triclosan to endocrine (hormone) disruption.

Triclosan may also contribute to creating antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Keeping in mind, its sole purpose is to kill bacteria. But we need beneficial bacteria in our mouths to aid in our digestive process. Killing beneficial bacteria makes our digestive process more difficult than it needs to be, further throwing off the balance in our bodies that makes a perfect breeding ground for candida overgrowth.

Triclosan is also lipophilic, which means it may bioaccumulate (store) in your fat for long periods of time. Plus the Scientific American published a study showing triclosan is detectable in human breast milk, blood, and urine samples. This becomes problematic, and may also cause excess “stubborn” weight that won’t burn off like we believe it should with diet and exercise.

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is Added To Most Toothpastes

SLS is a chemical compound used as a surfactant, detergent, and denaturant in various cosmetics and industrial cleaners. It’s also used as a foaming agent in toothpaste. If your asking why an ingredient for industrial cleaners is in your toothpaste… I completely empathize, and agree it shouldn’t be.

Nearly 16,000 studies have mentioned harmful health effects that comes from using and exposing your body to SLS, yet it is still used in many cosmetic products, as well as most conventional toothpastes. EWG (Environmental Working Group) maintains that this chemical, which is also used as an insecticide, can cause irritation and organ toxicity. SLS is also known to irritate your mouth tissue, and strips away the lining, which may lead to canker sores.

SLS is known by many different names on different labels:

  • Akyposal SDS
  • Aquarex methylSodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS)
  • Monododecyl ester
  • Monododecyl ester sodium salt sulfuric acid
  • Sodium salt
  • Sodium salt sulfuric acid
  • Sulfuric acid
  • Sulfuric acid monododecyl ester sodium salt
  • A13-00356

Fluoride is Added To Most Toothpastes

Are you surprised? I cringe seeing so many dentists still pushing products that contain fluoride to their clients. Not to mention all the TV commercials and internet ads.

Fluoride is a chemical added that is intended and marketed to prevent cavities by aiding remineralizing of tooth structure. However, based on my personal research, this is wildly misleading. Not to mention unnecessary when there are much healthier ways to remineralize teeth (including oil-pulling that my family has personally had success with).

There’s a reason all fluoride-containing products come with an FDA warning. Fluoride may cause:

  • Acute toxicity, which may present as nausea, vomiting, and headaches in its earliest stages.
  • Fluorosis: appearance of faint white lines or streaks on the teeth
  • Weakened skeletal health (including teeth)
  • Arthritis
  • Endocrine disruption (specifically harms the thyroid)
  • Calcifies the Pineal Gland (reducing spiritual and intuitive connections and disrupting sleep cycles)
  • Premature female puberty
  • Infertility (in both men and women)
  • Kidney troubles
  • Cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis
  • Negatively impacts children’s neural development

Artificial coloring is Added To Most Toothpastes

Artificial colors are used to make commercial toothpaste aesthetically pleasing. They provide absolutely no health benefit.

The downside to using artificial toothpaste colors… studies have linked the chemicals that make artificial coloring to hyperactivity and ADHD in children. In a study published in 2012 by Neurotherapeutics, researchers found that artificial food colors may have a negative effect on children, even if they haven’t been diagnosed with ADHD. As a mom, this really does bother me. Children have a difficult enough time with focus and concentration, and I really don’t feel the need to expose my kids to chemicals that are known for disrupting how their minds develop.

Abrasive ingredients are Added To Most Toothpastes

Abrasive ingredients are added into toothpaste with the intent that they will “scrub” biofilm from the teeth, giving your teeth a cleaner, smoother texture.

The problem with this… toothpaste only needs very mild abrasive additives to be effective. Some of the abrasives used include hydrated silica, which are way too rough for our teeth. These ingredients are known to strip away the enamel and dentin, creating sensitivity and leading to gum recession.

Parabens is Added To Most Toothpastes

Parabens are chemicals used as preservatives, which is used to extend the shelf life of the toothpaste. If you’ve seen any of our other healthy home posts or taken our healthy home course, you know how bad parabens can be for your body.

The FDA is still “reviewing and evaluating” published studies on the safety of parabens. I add quotations because they’ve mentioned “reviewing and evaluating” them since 2016, without much rush or incentive to complete the process and make a decision. Parabens are known to disrupt hormones, and are used in most cosmetic products, pharmaceuticals, and many prepackaged grocery items.

Even if the levels in these individual products are considered “safe,” the accumulation in our bodies is known cause problems, including a possible increase in the risk of breast cancer.

Propylene Glycol is Added To Most Toothpastes

Propylene glycol is a synthetic chemical used as a surfactant. A surfactant is substance like a detergent that, when added to a liquid, reduces its surface tension, which increases its spreading and wetting properties

Although the FDA classifies propylene glycol as GRAS (generally recognized as safe), this compound is known to irritate skin, eyes, lungs, and mucous membranes. This is also a main ingredient in antifreeze, detergent solvents, and paint. In a 2013 study, the summary authors recommended that intake of propylene glycol (and artificial colors, incidentally) be limited, especially in children. This tells me that we shouldn’t ingest it, use it in our bodies, or use it on our bodies – fully realizing what you put on your body or in your mouth will end up absorbing into your body.

Saccharin (Sodium Saccharin) is Added To Most Toothpastes

Saccharin is an artificial sweetener, also called Ortho-sulfobenzoic Acid Imide. It is an organic compound used as an artificial sweetening agent with no nutritional value. Saccharin has approximately 200-700 times the sweetening power of granulated sugar. This is added to your toothpaste to trick your tastebuds into enjoying it.

Saccharin is a known carcinogen in rat studies, having caused bladder cancer during testing trials. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pushed for a ban on saccharin use in the US based on the Delaney Clause of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1958, which prohibits the addition to human food of any substances that induce cancer in humans or animals. However following strong opposition to the ban, the US Congress intervened, allowing saccharin to remain legal to use.

Saccharin may also cause coughing, nausea, vomiting, headaches, skin problems, and diarrhea.

Carrageenan is Added To Most Toothpastes

Carrageenan in toothpaste should be avoided. Carrageenan is a food additive extracted from red seaweed (also called Irish moss), and is used as a thickener.

Why it’s harmful: In some animal studies, carrageenan has been known to cause intestinal issues, including inflammation and colon ulcerations. Many people have reported intestinal distress that was resolved with avoiding products containing carrageenan.

Additionally, the degraded form is a known carcinogen. During processing, the undegraded (food grade) form may be easily contaminated by the degraded form.

Aspartame is Added To Most Toothpastes

Aspartame is an addictive artificial sweetener, used as a flavoring agent.

When aspartame is ingested, one of the chemicals within the compound is broken down into methanol, an alcohol, which our bodies are unable to properly digest. Your body may convert it into formaldehyde, which also bioaccumulates. As this builds up in your body, it may cause headaches, dizziness, weakness, memory loss, and gastrointestinal distress.

A 2014 study also determined that aspartame is a possible carcinogen.

Diethanolamine (DEA) is Added To Most Toothpastes

DEA is a chemical used as a foaming agent in toothpastes, and may also be used to adjust the pH levels

DEA is a known hormone disruptor, and the EWG ranks it at a full 10 on its hazard scale. DEA is also known to react with other substances to become a carcinogen, in addition to causing organ-system toxicity.


As you can see… there are many reasons to ditch conventional toothpastes found in most stores, and be more conscious about what you’re using (and which companies you’re supporting). Thankfully, there are a few brands of toothpaste out there that do not contain these ingredients, and it isn’t difficult to make your own.

DIY Toothpaste Recipes – Without Harmful Ingredients

The absolute easiest way to know for sure that your toothpaste doesn’t include any harmful ingredients is to make it yourself.

DIY Brightening Toothpaste

This brightening toothpaste uses orange essential oil to help brighten your smile, without added chemicals. While many people fear using citrus in their mouths because citrus juice does strip enamel, citrus oils like orange are cold pressed from the rind and don’t have those same effects. If you’re interested in the science with that, check out this post where we talk about citrus oils and teeth.

Ingredients for our DIY Brightening Toothpaste:

Directions for our DIY Brightening Toothpaste:

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Add in your essential oils (you can add more if you want a stronger flavor). Add the mix into a small mason jar or empty toothpaste tubes.

** Quick tip… if you’re going to use this recipe on your pet, be sure to leave out the xylitol

DIY Clay Detoxifying Toothpaste, Featuring Essential Oils

Ingredients for our DIY Clay Detoxifying Toothpaste

Directions for our DIY Clay Detoxifying Toothpaste

In a glass bowl, melt the coconut oil. Mix bentonite clay and water together (be sure to not use a metal pr plastic spoon – I recommend silicone). Add in your baking soda and essential oils. You may add an additional 1 tsp of water if you need a different texture.

Store in a small mason jar or empty toothpaste squeeze tube.

Non-DIY Healthy Toothpastes To Consider

If you’re not into DIY, or you’re like me and just don’t have the time or energy to DIY everything, there are a few products I personally use and have had excellent results with.

  • Thieves Whitening Toothpaste (my personal favorite)
  • Thieves Toothpaste (my second favorite that also doubles as my favorite deodorant)

These products have helped my family overcome sensitive teeth and gums, especially when we added in oil pulling into our routine.


Nicole Graber, team leader, author, and editor to EssentialOils.Life and nikkygraber.com blog websites.

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Nicole

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