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By Chere Di Boscio
It’s shocking how toxic the dental industry is. From shoving mercury fillings into our teeth (and now more commonly, white resin, which normally contains carcinogenic BPA plastics) to subjecting us to far more X ray radiation than is usually necessary, it’s no wonder why people dread going to the dentist. But…have you ever considered how toxic your tooth care regime is?
From chemical-laden toothpastes and Teflon coated floss, there are lots of reasons you should swap what you use daily in the bathroom for more natural tooth care essentials.
Here are 5 everyone in your family should have in their bathroom – especially kids!
1. A bamboo toothbrush
Made from renewable, recyclable materials, a bamboo toothbrush should be a staple in your bathroom at all times. They don’t cost much, last ages and most brands can literally be thrown in the compost after use.
Why you need it: Plastic toothbrushes take centuries to biodegrade, clog landfill and can even leave little micro-particles of plastic in your mouth when you brush.
Where to get it: This brand costs around $4 a brush, and boasts not only a bamboo handle, but an all natural, plant based brush, too, making it super safe for your health and totally biodegradable.
2. Natural dental floss
Most dental floss is made out of nylon, which is not at all biodegradable. What’s worse, it’s often coated with artificial flavours, fake sweeteners and sometimes even Teflon, that super toxic stuff that’s used on pans to be ‘non-stick’! The most natural option is silk floss. Yes, vegans will protest that this is highly cruel to silk worms, but at least it biodegrades. If you think nylon floss is more ‘cruelty-free’, just take a look at how many animals, including this seal, get caught in some tear-proof threads like dental floss.
Why you need it: Nylon is undoubtedly bad for the planet, and the coatings on dental floss that make it taste ‘nice’ or glide through teeth more easily can often be harmful to human health.
Where to get it: Radius floss is made from silk and coated in Xylitol, which is a natural extract from birch trees that protects your teeth.
3. Natural mouthwash
Mouthwash is normally just as full of nasty, toxic chemicals as commercial toothpastes. Like toothpaste, mouthwashes also commonly contain fluoride, a systemic poison, and sorbitol or saccharin, which causes bladder cancer in animals. There are also synthetic colours, aromas and flavourings, which are basically perfumes that only temporarily hide foul odours. As they are composed of volatile solvents, they can also alter the basic flora of the mouth in the same way as alcohol and may cause dermatitis around the mouth.
Why you need it: If you use alcohol-containing mouthwashes over a long period, this is sure to dry out your mouth and change its natural pH, increasing your risk of mouth and throat cancers. If a mouthwash contains a harsh detergent like cocamidopropyl betaine, this makes it even worse.
Where to get it: Aesop’s breath-freshening formula eliminates bad breath without disturbing the natural pH of your mouth. Powered by clove, anise and spearmint, the pH-balancing, alcohol-free mouthwash will leave you feeling fresh, confident and clean – it’s totally natural and the recyclable brown bottle makes a chic addition to your bathroom shelf.
4. Natural toothpaste
Artificial flavours, sweeteners and of all things, fluoride, contaminate most commercial toothpastes. In fact, they’re so toxic, they actually warn that if the toothpaste is ingested, you should call poison control! (For reals! Check the side of a Crest package next time you’re in the drug store!).
Note: Some people choose to make their own toothpaste with baking soda, charcoal or other ingredients, but take my word for it – they are so abrasive, they can damage the enamel of your teeth! After two years of using a baking soda and chalk based mixture, I ended up with 3 cavities – after not having cavities for years!
Why you need it: You need a non-abrasive, natural toothpaste because regular ones are way too toxic.
Where to get it: Dr Ginger’s Coconut Oil Toothpaste is a great all natural brand because it contains loads of coconut oil, which is an all natural anti-bacterial agent that not only helps prevent cavities, but helps to whiten your teeth, too. This is a non-abrasive formula that can be used safely every day. There’s also a great list of natural toothpaste alternatives here.
5. A good pick
Whether it’s a water pick or a good, old fashioned rubber one, this tool can clean out bits of food that a brush can’t reach. It’s also a great massager for your gums, and if you are sensitive to the feeling of the water pick, it’s a sign a cavity may be developing.
Why you need it: To get into all those nooks and crannies unreachable by flossing or brushing.
Where to get it: A water pick – like this one – takes batteries and is made of plastic, so it’s not the best device for the environment. But many people I know who use one say their teeth never feel as clean without it, and in fact, studies show that because of the high pressure water pulse, water picks can remove up to 99.9% of plaque from treated areas, bringing a more effective and hygienic way to remove harmful bacteria and food debris in or between your teeth.
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