In a time when the climate crisis is on the rise and human health is on the dive, it’s becoming increasingly important to remain informed about the truths of our lifestyle choices and to be aware of what all our options are. How can we take better care of ourselves and the environment? How can we swap little things that in the long run will have big impacts?
I’ve talked about bamboo toothbrushes and how they’re now a staple in my life, but what about the next step? What about the chemicals that we’re using to brush our teeth, and the containers in which they come?
Of course, I’m talking about toothpaste. All of us brush our teeth at least twice a day, it’s such a mundane task and so routine that we don’t even give it much thought. But did you know that a tiny change in your dental hygiene could have a huge impact on your health and the environment?
What your dentist is hiding from you: The problem with fluoride
The most common chemicals found in toothpastes are fluoride, antibacterial agents, desensitizing agents, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), but they also include anti-tarter agents, enzymes, and other chemicals that frankly, I can’t pronounce. The topic of this post specifically is fluoride, a chemical most of us know of, but research has shown that it may not be having the effects that you think.
Up till very recently, science showed that having fluoride in our toothpaste and in our tap water helped to prevent cavities and maintain healthy dental hygiene. But did you know that fluoride is a waste product of the metal and fertiliser industry and that the toxicity of fluoride means that it is not allowed to be dumped in our landfills? So why are we letting them put it in our bodies?
Dr. Griffin Cole, in a recent Wise Traditions podcast (‘The Problem with Flouride‘), explained that not only is fluoride not good for our teeth, but it also has an effect on hormone imbalances and studies conducted since the introduction of water fluoridation in the US have shown an increase in thyroid cancer, bone cancer and kidney problems.
He discusses how fluoride in the body can affect not only our teeth, but our bones and mental functions as well. There is also evidence that fluorosis, which is a condition that weakens the enamel in your teeth over time is caused by topical application, ie through toothpaste.
On the other hand, he doesn’t deny that applying topical fluoride can prevent tooth decay but he does say that we can have the same result with the proper diet and home care.
Now I don’t live in the US, and you may not either, so it may be of interest to you to find out what your country’s policy on water fluoridation is. In the US, 75% of all municipalities have fluoridated water, whereas in the UK, less than 10% of the population drink fluoridated water. At home in Seychelles our water does not contain fluoride but does contain chlorine, which is another chemical that has it’s own associated negative health impacts.
So, your exposure to fluoride will depend on where you are in the world and your government policy on water fluoridation. But that’s something you can’t control as an individual. There are however, some things that are within your control, like the amount of fluoride in your diet and in your hygiene products.
So, your toothpaste could be hurting your body
If fluoride in our toothpaste which we apply topically on our teeth is fine, and let’s say you aren’t getting fluoride in your water (so you think!) then you’re probably wondering, well Vadz what’s your point?
It’s interesting to consider that we can get the required amount of fluoride that our body does need through our diets, making the need for it in our hygiene products unnecessary. Most of us get this required intake from a lot of foods such as wine, black tea, shrimp and oatmeal.
The fluoride in toothpaste just adds to the problem of over-accumulation of fluoride in the body.
We live in a society that often values the external over what’s going on inside and not enough of us are paying attention to what we allow into our bodies and the effects they are having. We only have this one vessel get us through life, so we need to be aware of everything that we allow into it, no matter in how small a quantity.
Fluoride-free alternatives and sustainable packing
So maybe I’ve convinced you to look into this whole fluoride business a bit more. Bearing in mind that I’m not a scientist, I’m a consumer just like you, but part of my duty as a fellow consumer is to share my findings with you so that you can also be aware and make better judgements for yourself. If I haven’t convinced you yet, here are some other insights you might find interesting.
Most fluoride free toothpastes also have other natural, organic ingredients. These include charcoal, peppermint and coconut, all of which have fewer chemicals and are better for our health.
Additionally, they’re made in ethical environments, with sustainable resources and aren’t tested on animals. Finally, they come in packaging that is more easily recycled. Although regular toothpaste tubes can be recycled after a process of separating the elements, it’s harder to recycle than simple glass or other easily recycled plastics that organic products come in.
All of these factors, along with a good brushing and flossing regiment and a good diet, will make for healthier and more sustainable lifestyle practices!
Here are some toothpaste options that are fluoride free, ethically produced and come in containers that are easily recycled.
WHAT OTHER SUSTAINABLE OR HEALTHY TIPS HAVE YOU BEEN IMPLEMENTING LATELY? HAVE YOU TRIED FLUORIDE-FREE TOOTHPASTE?
Here are some more of my favourites sustainable tips
Sit back, grab some oreos, and I can’t wait to see what life has to offer us next!