Is Natural Toothpaste Better? Revealing the Truth Behind the Tube

Woman brushing with charcoal toothpaste

In recent years, natural toothpastes have grown in popularity due to increased interest in using less toxic products. However, claims that these toothpastes are inherently safer or more effective are misleading.

When choosing a toothpaste, it is important to look past labels and scrutinize ingredients to find the right balance of safety and efficacy for your needs. Be sure to also keep your child’s age, stage of life, and abilities in mind when choosing toothpaste for them.

What Makes Toothpaste “Natural”?

The term “natural” is not strictly regulated for oral care products. A toothpaste labeled as natural may still contain synthetic ingredients. Additionally, having natural components does not guarantee safety or effectiveness. Ultimately, assessing specific ingredients is more telling than vague “natural” designations.

Potential Drawbacks of Natural Toothpastes

In trying to avoid artificial additives, some natural toothpastes miss key ingredients that help prevent cavities and gum disease. For example, many don’t contain fluoride, which strengthens enamel and stops bacteria from producing the acid that decays teeth.

Plus, certain “natural” germ-fighting oils can make oral microbiomes go haywire. Even alternative sweeteners are acidic enough to throw off mouth pH balance.

Seeking Unbiased Information

It can be difficult for consumers to navigate conflicting health claims about toothpaste ingredients. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) offers unbiased assessments on which components are safe or should be avoided based on extensive research.

I recommend consulting their guides to help you make decisions about all-natural toothpaste.

Achieving the Right Balance

Aim to use toothpaste with well-assessed natural ingredients, but do not compromise on efficacy under the assumption that “natural” equals to “better”. The safety and effectiveness of specific components are more important factors. Consider options that blend thoughtful choices of plant-based ingredients with substances clinically shown to enable good oral defense against disease and decay.

Assessing Ingredients in Our Toothpaste

My take is that you don’t have to sacrifice safety OR efficacy when choosing a natural toothpaste. Look for ones that thoughtfully include beneficial botanicals as well as substances proven to deter disease and decay.

SuperMouth toothpastes strike a careful balance between natural ingredients shown to benefit oral health and key additives like fluoride and patent-pending Hydroxamin™ that defend against disease.

As a dentist with over a quarter of a century’s experience, I am a firm believer in educating my patients about how our mouths work (through my book If Your Mouth Could Talk as well as blog posts like this one). I also believe in empowering my patients by explaining why certain ingredients are controversial.

But that’s not enough for me. Because I am firmly committed to providing solutions, and I noticed that the dental care market was missing products that address the “who” of the equation (that’s you!), I created the SuperMouth line of products.

Further, I organized the SuperMouth line of products into unique categories catering to patients of different ages, stages, and abilities, with the understanding that mouthcare products that are right for you might not be right for others. (When it comes to dental care, what’s often missing from expert opinions and answers is context!)

Not interested in SuperMouth? You’re missing out 😉… But seriously, if you came to this blog post thinking “Geez, I just want some info on natural toothpaste ingredients, not a dissertation on oral care!”, then I hope you will still find the following information helpful.

Watch for These Ingredients in Your Toothpaste

“Natural” Ingredients Often Thought to Be Healthy

Have your friends or loved ones encouraged you to take a sacred oath to ban all toothpaste and make your own? While doing so isn’t necessarily impossible, please proceed with caution; here’s why you should exercise caution when attempting to make your own DIY toothpaste (or buying one at the store labeled as “natural”):

  • Essential Oils: Some essential oils like peppermint and tea tree have antimicrobial properties. While antimicrobial products serve a purpose (i.e. staving off infection), they also destroy the delicate balance of the oral microbiome indiscriminately. Furthermore, and perhaps even more importantly, essential oils can cause life-threatening breathing issues in young children.
  • Lemon Juice: Highly acidic, lemon juice can damage enamel and lead to sensitivity or even tooth decay.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: ACV, as it’s often known, is highly acidic like lemon juice and can lead to tooth decay when used frequently or in excess.
  • Activated Charcoal: Often used as a “natural” tooth whitener, activated charcoal can be too abrasive, leading to sensitivity or tooth decay, similar to lemon juice.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (In High Concentrations): When used in high concentrations, hydrogen peroxide (which can be an effective tooth whitening agent) can cause gum tissue and tooth enamel damage.
  • Baking Soda: This common household ingredient is often used in DIY toothpaste for its abrasive and deodorizing properties but using it excessively over time can lead to tooth sensitivity, enamel erosion, and by extension, cavities.
  • Alcohol: While more applicable to natural mouthwash than toothpaste, alcohol can dry the mouth out, disrupting the delicate balance of saliva and leading to bad breath and increased infection risk.

It’s crucial to approach natural oral care ingredients with caution and to consult with dental professionals before incorporating new products or homemade remedies into your oral hygiene routine.

Other Ingredients to Watch For

  • Fluoride: Fluoride has been the go-to FDA-recognized ingredient to restore tooth enamel, for years. It is, however, toxic. Then again, it is also extremely effective at restoring enamel. So is it good or bad? It depends! I encourage patients to choose products and ingredients based on pros, cons, and risk factors. If you are very prone to cavities or have had many cavities, the benefits of using fluoride may outweigh the drawbacks. If not, you may wish to explore other options, such as toothpastes with Hydroxamin™ or Hydroxyapetite, which offer many advantages both when combined with fluoride or as a stand-alone without fluoride.
  • Triclosan: This hormone-disrupting pesticide has been found in major toothpaste brands. It also disrupts the oral microbiome.
  • Diethylene glycol: This toxic and extremely-hazardous substance is often found in commercial toothpastes.

The Bottom Line

While “natural” labels can be enticing, and natural products may be healthier overall than “big-brand” products, there are often reasons that “big-brand” products include such ingredients. Further, the word “natural” does not inherently indicate that a toothpaste is safer or will better support oral health versus traditionally formulated pastes.

The takeaway? Be intentional. Scrutinize any toothpaste’s ingredients before deciding if it meets your needs and provides crucial cavity protection.

Want to learn more about the importance of oral health for overall health? Read Dr. Kami Hoss’s book, If Your Mouth Could Talk today!

Looking for toothpaste that’s been developed for its safety and effectiveness? Purchase SuperMouth mouthpaste with Hydroxamin™ today!

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About the Author

About Dr. Kami Hoss

Dr. Kami Hoss is a nationally sought-after expert with a master’s in craniofacial biology from USC, a doctorate in dental surgery from UCLA, and a post-doctorate in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. With over 25 years of experience in the dental field, Dr. Hoss is a #1 National Best Seller author frequently featured on NBC, ABC, FOX, NPR, and CBS affiliates, and founder of The Super Dentists, one of the leading multi-specialty dental practices in the country.

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