Toothpaste - How It Makes You Sick


A few years ago, shortly after the scandal surrounding tainted Toothpaste Imports from China we published the first article to create awareness for reading the Ingredients Labels on personal care products, particularly Toothpaste. The interest in this topic  continues to gain momentum, for good reasons: who wants to voluntarily ingest a blend of a dozen toxic chemicals several times a day, day after day. While that is exactly what we do without even thinking about it when we use toothpaste, the consumers do not read the product “Ingredients” Labels as they are totally overwhelmed by the terms alone, let alone understanding their functions. But parents caring for their children’s health should really buy Toothpaste by the label and not by the fancy design. Moreover, meanwhile a number of toxic ingredients commonly used in Toothpastes have shown up in tap water and the food chain, as these substances don’t break down in the environment. This article will guide you through the maze of toxic ramifications luring in Toothpastes and aid you in making informed buying decisions.


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Have you ever wondered why Allergies among children are widespread as never before, or why Autism, Attention Deficit and Bipolar Disorders are rampant? The multitude of toxic chemicals and their combination embodied in your tube of Toothpaste may hold the answer to many unexplained symptoms of ill-health, mood swings and fatigue.

Just look up the definition of the key ingredients of almost any Toothpaste, with intimidating terms such as: Sodium Fluoride, Triclosan, Polyethylene Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, FD&C-blue 1, FD&C-yellow 5, Methylparaben, Proylparaben, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-32, PEG-12, PEG-8, Polypropylene Glycol, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, PVM / MA Copolymer, Saccharin, Titanium Dioxide, Sorbitol, Glycerol, Potassium Nitrate, Strontium Chloride, Zinc Citrate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Chlorhexidine, Aluminum Trihydrate, Sodium Hexametaphosphate and Monofluorophosphate, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Silica, Allantoin, Hydrogen Peroxide, BHT, Manganese Gluconate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Thymol, Carrageenan, Fragrance, Flavors, and so on?

Now, which of the above “Ingredients” are benign and which are highly toxic health challengers? Which Toothpaste is safe and which must I avoid? The good news is that there are quite a few Toothpastes available that are free of known toxins, but these are definitely not be the ones that are placed at eye level in the supermarket shelves, or those that suggest to be healthy on the package. None of the main brand Toothpaste lists a single healthy or health promoting ingredient. Sadly though, the most popular heavily advertised brands seem to be the most toxic; it seems that large corporations invest more into marketing than research and have no concern for the sustained health of the consumers.

Case in point, the least toxic of hundreds of Colgate’s Toothpaste brands  ("Colgate Fluoride, Diego" Toothpaste) checks in at rank number 108 in the non-profit Environmental Working Group’s comprehensive “Cosmeticdatabase” (September 2010). In the highest Health Hazards category, Colgate brands  are no longer present, but it used to own 3 of 11 positions. That doesn't mean that any of these products are now less toxic, it just means that now a rivals product poses even greater health risks. Nevertheless, Colgate's Toothpastes clearly dominate the list with 50 of 81 products in the second highest toxin class, including all of the "Total" family. Mentadent, Aquafresh, Crest and Sensodyne  each hold several positions in the second most toxic class. Johnson &Johnson’s "Rembrandt  Plus Peroxide, Wintergreen Flavor" Toothpastes are now the sole contenders in the most toxic category.


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dangers in toothpaste



List of Toxic Chemicals - Ingredients of commerical Toothpastes


Alumina, Aluminium Hydroxide

Although not considered highly toxic, it is cited for developmental-, reproductive-, neuro- and organ system toxin that bioaccumulates in the body and doesn’t break down in the environment, meaning it can end up in the food chain and drinking water. May cause constipation. It is used as a drying ingredient or colorant. Present in Rembrandt products.

Benzoic Acid

Skin, eye and lung irritant, cancer causing, organ system toxin; more toxic than Parabens, found in some Crest products.

BHT – Butylated Hydroxytoluene

This toxic chemical is present as a preservative and antioxidant in Colgate Simply White Advanced Whitening Toothpaste. But this substance is known as causing cancer and allergies, developmental and reproductive system, neuro- and immunotoxicity, endocrine disruption, skin and eye irritant and it bioaccumulates in the body while it doesn’t break down in the environment. Seems like enough reasons to forego this product one this one ingredient alone, yet there are many of the other toxins in the product.


– its intended use and (unwanted) risk can be determined from the official FDA web site: “The effect of Chlorhexidine Gluconate on periodontitis has not been determined. An increase in supragingival calculus was noted in clinical testing in Chlorhexidine Gluconate oral rinse.” Side effects include tartar buildup, change in taste, and increase in plaque, staining of teeth, mouth, tooth fillings, dentures, or other appliances in the mouth. So it seems this chemical is aimed at solving one oral problem (gingivitis) while spawning others (plaque and tartar buildup)! In Elgydium “Anti-Plaque Toothpaste as Chlorhexidine Digluconate.

Cocamidopropyl Betaine

Used in many Colgate, Aquafresh, Rembrandt and Crest products as a foam booster – even children’s Toothpaste, can cause Allergies and weakens the immune system which means an impaired capacity to fight disease. Although this is not a desirable ingredient in (children’s) Toothpaste, it is being used because it is foamy.


The problem with Flavors as Ingredients is the fact that the term may be used to disclose the actual ingredient which may not be desirable. Nevertheless, Flavors are used in hundreds of mainstream brands to mask less desirable tastes and to suggest desirable flavors. There may be unknown interactions with other ingredients, as the manufacturer is not required to study ingredients of ingredients.


Used in Toothpaste as a deodorant, to mask undesirable taste and to add suggestive smells to the product. Immunotoxins, neurotoxins, allergy causing and unknown interaction with other toxic ingredients. Present in Mastic Spa “with Vitamins” Toothpaste.

Hydrogen Peroxide

A bleaching and oxidizing ingredient prevalent in teeth whitening Toothpaste such as in many Mentadent, Crest, Rembrandt, Listerine and Colgate types, but is known as skin irritant, neurotoxin and endocrine disruptor and is also linked to cancer. Its use in oral products is restricted in some countries, including Canada.


Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Methylparaben and Propylparaben – p-Hydroxibenzoate, are widely used as preservatives in almost every cosmetic product and in some Toothpastes. Parabens are linked to cancer, allergies, neurotoxic and immunotoxic effects and as endocrine disruptor. There is no justification for their use in Toothpaste and products listing parabens should be avoided.

PEG-6, 8, 12, 32, 75

A polymer of ethylene oxide where the number refers to the liquidity, the higher the number the harder the composition.PEG-6 is widely used by Crest in whitening Toothpastes. PEG-12 is listed as ingredient in Colgate’s Kid’s 2- in 1 Toothpaste, but also in Sensodyne, Reach, CVS, Ultra Brite, Crest, BreathRx and many other Colgate products. PEG-32 is found in Aim, Close-Up, Listerine, Mentadent and Pepsodent; PEG-75 is found in Sensodyne and CVS brand whitening Toothpastes but the compound is cited for developmental and reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity, endocrine disruptor and skin irritant  - and as contaminants in tap water and food.

Sodium Fluoride

– never mind its widespread use even in public drinking water (as hydrofluosilicic acid, silicofluoride or sodium fluoride)Fluoride is the most popular active ingredient in Toothpaste due to its proven ability to prevent cavities, but high fluoride exposure is also proven to reduce the IQ and is linked to Thyroid disease. Most brands use a concentration of Fluoride in Toothpaste for adults is 1000 to 1450 ppm max. In contrast, Fluoride is more toxic than lead and is also considered toxic waste! The US EPA has set the maximum contaminant level for Fluoride at 4 ppm! The US Public Health Service has stated that Fluoride makes the bones more brittle and the dental enamel more porous. The Safety Officer in Physical Chemistry at Oxford University states: “Very toxic by ingestion, inhalation and skin contact. 4g may be fatal. May cause burns. Severe eye irritant. Chronic exposure may cause lung damage.”

How much Fluoride is too much? As little as 0.04 mg/kg/day has been proven to cause adverse health effects. Retention of 2mg a day will produce crippling skeletal fluorosis (a bone disease exclusively caused by excessive consumption of Fluoride) in one's lifetime. And – Yes, Fluoride accumulates in the body and the kidneys can only eliminate a part of the daily onslaught of Fluoride. At risk are particularly children, because Fluoride is found not only in Toothpaste, but also in water, mouthwash, Dentist's treatment, Fluoride pills, fruit juice, soft drinks, canned food, commercial fruit and vegetables, and salt. Children's ingestion of Fluoride from juices and juice-flavored beverages can be quite substantial and a crucial factor in developing fluorosis (The damage in tooth development occurs between the ages of 6 months to 5 years, from the overexposure to Fluoride.). Grape juice has been found to contain up to 6.8 mg/L of Fluoride, a can of chicken soup up to 4 mg of fluoride. Fluoride interacts with dairy products, thus drinking milk after brushing teeth may create calcium Fluoride, a substance which cannot be absorbed by the body. Do the math: if you live in an area where you are exposed to high involuntary exposure to forced fluoridation (city water, food additives), your health is in acute danger!

Sodium Hexametaphosphate

Graham’s Salt, an emulsifier and texturizer, used as water softener and detergent. Organ system toxin and skin irritant that bioaccumulates in the body and doesn’t break down in the environment. Widely used in Crest products.

Sodium Hydroxide

Also known as Caustic Soda, Soda Lye. Its ingestion causes vomiting, prostration and collapse, inhalation causes Lung damage. A neurotoxin that accumulates in the body, a skin irritant and organ toxin, widely present in Colgate Total range, Sensodyne, Oral B, Rembrandt, Ultra Brite, Aquafresh, Crest and others

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

- this chemical is a very effective foaming agent, known as surfactant. Unfortunately, SLS is also very dangerous, highly irritating chemical. It has been associated with Eczema and it is a skin irritant and causes skin drying. A study at the University of Georgia Medical College, indicated that SLS penetrated into the eyes as well as brain, heart, liver, etc., and showed long-term retention in the tissues. The study also indicated that SLS penetrated young children's eyes and prevented them from developing properly and caused cataracts development In adults. SLS is used in Garages as engine degreaser and to mop the oil strained floors! Is that what we want to put into our children’s mouth? For all that, even “Tom’s of Maine”- who is portraying itself as a eco friendly business, but is owned by Colgate - is using SLS, pretending it is a natural product “derived from coconut oil” (a deceiving statement and gross distortion of the fact that SLS is very highly chemically processed) and citing its long history of use and declaring its dangers as “rumors”. However, the company falls short of proving safety and – once again: the FDA does not require manufacturers to test their products for safety! The American College of Toxicology says that SLS stays in the body up to five days. Other studies show it easily penetrates the skin and eyes, and enters and maintains residual levels in the heart, liver, lungs, and even the brain and has shown long term retention in tissue. So why is SLS used at all? Because it is cheap and the consumers (yes us!) are requesting cheap buys – and foamy, bubbly products.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

– because of mounting criticism and pressure of consumers to replace SLS, some companies are switching to SLES, claiming it is “much safer”. Although Sodium Laureth Sulfate seems somewhat less irritating than SLS, there is no proving that it is safer. SLES as SLS cannot be metabolized by the liver and its effects are therefore much longer-lasting. This not only means it stays in the body tissues for longer, but much more precious energy is used getting rid of it. Examples: Pepsodent “Anti-Cavity”, Tom’s of Maine “Anticavity Fluoride Cinnamint”

Sodium Monofluorophosphate

- is widely used in major brand Toothpastes to protect tooth enamel from attack by bacteria (cavities, also known as caries). It was developed to avoid infringing on the Crest patent for stannous fluoride. The active part of the molecule is the fluoride ion, which is why two other fluorine containing compounds, sodium fluoride, and stannous fluoride are also used. As Sodium Fluoride becomes inactive when used with abrasives that contain calcium, Sodium Monofluorophosphate can be used and remain effective. MFP seems to be less toxic than Sodium Fluoride and is used in quantities of less than 1% in most Toothpaste and is said to reduce cavities by 17-38%. It is not used in drinking water fluoridation nor is it added to foods. In Colgate, Aim, Ultra Bright, Aquafresh, Tom’s of Maine, Close-up, Aim, Pepsodent, Sensodyne, Rembrandt, Natural Dentist, GoSmile, Biotene, Listerine, Mentadent and others in the US, but its use is restricted in other countries, including Canada..

Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate

– is used in a major Toothpaste branded for “sensitive teeth” and is a Nitrosating Agent, the chemical can cause nitrosamine contaminations, which have been determined to form cancer in laboratory animals. There are wide and repeated concerns in the USA and Europe about the contamination of cosmetics products with nitrosamines. It is rated “unsafe for cosmetics” in the EU and “unsafe for infant products” in the US and is banned – yet present in Toothpaste such as in Sensodyne.

Strontium Chloride

– a de-sensitizing agent that works by blocking the tiny crevices (microtubules) that enable cold and heat sensations to reach the tooth's nerve. It is a radioactive isotope and is toxic on skin and eyes and a cause of indigestion when eaten. Some products have replaced Strontium Chloride with Potassium Citrate or Potassium Nitrate which acts differently in masking pain – by blocking the mechanism of pain transmission between nerve cells. However, since the pain that is being masked is there as a warning that dental treatment is inevitable, these compounds promote the cause of a wide array of misdiagnosed disease symptoms caused by hidden dental problems. Watch out for these compounds in “Toothpaste for sensitive teeth”, such as Sensodyne, Rembrandt, Tom’s of Maine and others.


Also known as FD&C Yellow # 5, a colorant derived from coal tar, used in Colgate’s Kid’s 2 in 1 Toothpaste and Mouthwash. An immunotoxin known to spawn allergies, a neurotoxic endocrine disruptor and skin irritant, bioaccumulates in the body and does not break down in the environment, thus it may show up in the food chain and water supply as contaminant. The same product marketed for children hosts a number of other potent toxic substances.


The industry favored, popular antibacterial ingredient, registered by the EPA as a pesticide, making it a high risk human health and environmental hazard. Nevertheless, Triclosan is present in 47 supermarket brand Toothpastes, including Colgate’s Total brand series - reacts with the chlorine in the tab water to form chloroform gas and chlorinated dioxins, both known carcinogens. Triclosan bioaccumulates and is present in human breast milk, this is rather significant considering Triclosan is a major active ingredient in all antibacterial soaps, mouthwash, deodorants, shower gels and even in makeup, powders, clothing and children toys. Triclosan is lipophilic, thus accumulates in fatty tissue. And – No, your teeth are not exposed to it for just a short instance; Colgate’s “Total series’ claiming that their Toothpastes "continue working" or "stay on the teeth" for up to twelve hours after brushing. As for the environment, consider that wastewater cannot neutralize Triclosan and thus the substance can be detected in lakes and rivers where it can find its way into our tap water. It also endangers the ecosystem: Triclosan has been found to act as endocrine system inhibitor in bull frog tadpoles and is being studies for its effect on Thyroid function. The reality of genetic damage to amphibians in water where Triclosan traces are found may be indicative of long term health problems that we don’t even know yet. There are other concerns too, such as Allergies including Asthma and resistance building of bacteria by its widespread over-use. Avoid Triclosan containing Personal Care products, including Toothpaste – and you do yourself and generations after you – a great service.

Other Ingredients

Sorbitol, Glycerol, Saccharin, Titanium Dioxide, Zinc citrate, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, Allantoin, Silica, Aluminium Trihydrate, Mica, Sucralose,  – there are many more ingredients in Toothpaste, such as flavors and colorants and other compounds that produce the intended brand appeal. These are to numerous to list here and may be less important in the context of toxins that can cause many “unexplained” disease symptoms.



A Consumer's dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients; Ruth Winter, M.S.; Three Rivers Press, 2005.

Environmental Working Group, "EWG" Skin Deep Cosmetic Database, Oral Care, Toothpastes:


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Summary – is there a safe Toothpaste ?

According to the EWG database “Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database”, the following 55 products have a zero to one rating, meaning that there are none or one, relatively benign toxic chemical in the product. These are products sold in the US; in other countries the same brand may have different ingredients according to government regulations. Moreover, the EWG database seems to be limited to commercial products sold through conventional stores, but there are other products sold through the Internet, Mailorder or Network Marketing.

One such product is “ORA MD ” a Toothpaste substitute that comes in small bottles and a few drops on top of the toothbrush do the job effectively and naturally. These work with double action: Mouthwash and Toothpaste in one product. It is available through the Internet / Mailorder.
Remember all of the major branded Toothpaste feature at least some, often many of the highly toxic ingredients. While they may all claim to be safe, their claims are limited to their product and do not account for accumulation of toxins by repeat use and by use of additional products with these toxins. And of course, no consideration is given to Bioaccumulation (in the body) and Biodegradation (in the environment) Unfortunately, the consumer is left alone figuring out what toxic levels are tolerable to them. The Environmental Working Groups’ not for profit web site “Skin Deep” features a detailed, searchable database and ratings of Toothpaste and other Personal Care products, which can be useful – but unfortunately it is limited to commercial products sold in the United States: and even  there, it might reqiure some searching to find non toxic products.  As  per September 2010 the EWG named the following 25 products with a rating of "0 Toxins":


1. Tooth Soap® Peppermint Liquidtoothpaste
2. Solay Smile Spearmint Natural Tooth Powdertoothpaste
3. Solay Smile Tangerine Natural Tooth Powdertoothpaste
4. Herbal Choice Mari Natural Tooth Gel Fennel 100mltoothpaste
5. Herbal Choice Mari Natural Tooth Gel Ginger 100mltoothpaste
6. Solay Smile Lemon-Lime Natural Tooth Powdertoothpaste
7. Miessence Anise Toothpastetoothpaste
8. Miessence Lemon Toothpastetoothpaste
9. Miessence Mint Toothpastetoothpaste
10. Goodness Essentials Tooth Powder-Plaintoothpaste
11. Tooth Chips - Soap for Teeth Tooth Chip Spritz - Peppermint with Neem Bark and Xylitoltoothpaste
12. Goodness Essentials Spearmint Tooth Powdertoothpaste
13. Anarres Natural Health Anarres Own Tooth Powdertoothpaste
14. Tooth Chips - Soap for Teeth Peppermint with Xylitoltoothpaste
15. Tooth Chips - Soap for Teeth Pepperminttoothpaste
16. LaMari Minty Toothpowdertoothpaste
17. Tooth Chips - Soap for Teeth Neem Bark and Xylitoltoothpaste
18. Tooth Chips - Soap for Teeth Spearmint with Xylitoltoothpaste
19. Tooth Chips - Soap for Teeth WinterMint with Xylitoltoothpaste
20. Tooth Chips - Soap for Teeth Spearmint toothpaste
21. Tooth Chips - Soap for Teeth WinterMint pain relief,toothpaste
22. Tooth Chips - Soap for Teeth Cinnamon with Xylitoltoothpaste
23. Tooth Chips - Soap for Teeth Clove with Xylitoltoothpaste
24. Tooth Chips - Soap for Teeth Cinnamontoothpaste
25. Arganat All Natural Clay Toothpastetoothpaste, whitening


Finally, you can make your own healthy Toothpaste like inthe olden days:

Take Virgin Coconut Oil mix with Baking Soda and add Spearmint or Peppermint oil for the fresh taste and fragrance you are looking for in Toothpaste.

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