Since toddlerhood, we’ve been told to brush our teeth after every meal. Every time we go to the dentist this is emphasized. Most of us do it twice a day. Dental insurance is quite expensive, so many people limit their preventive visits hoping a good brushing and flossing routine might keep their teeth healthy. Yet, dental caries and gingivitis ( gum inflammation) are still a major public health problem. The health of our teeth has been linked to chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. So, it is important to not only get those check-ups but to prevent tooth decay and gum inflammation.  Do this through eating a whole foods diet and proper oral hygiene.  This is where toothpaste comes in. 

However, is the toothpaste we are currently using more helpful or harmful to our health? 

Fluoride in Toothpaste

Fluoride, the major component of toothpaste that aids in cavity prevention, is needed for good quality tooth enamel development. It occurs naturally but in small quantities in most water supplies. Fluoridating water has been considered one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th Century. There are some who argue that water fluoridation is unnecessary, but in communities without fluoridation, dental caries are significantly higher.

Fluoride can be toxic to young children, so it is recommended that children under two use non- fluoridated toothpaste. There is some evidence that too much fluoride can cause a specific type of bone cancer, but more study is needed. It is also good to be mindful of how much fluoride you are consuming as an adult- water, toothpaste, mouthwash and sealants all increase your load. For those of us that can’t process toxins and metals well, this could lead to body overload and negative health effects. 

Other Toothpaste Ingredients

If you look at the ingredients list on a toothpaste box, you see more than fluoride and many times you can’t even pronounce their names.  The list below highlights other toothpaste ingredients that can present major health issues. 

  • Triclosan is an endocrine disruptor.
  • Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS), and similarly named ingredients stay in the body for over 5 days and forms nitrosamines, a cancer causing compound.  This also causes canker sores in some people.
  • Propylene Glycol is rapidly absorbed into tissue and can cause brain, liver & kidney abnormalities.
  • Dyes have been shown to cause cancer.
  • Parabens are endocrine disruptors.
  • Diethyanolamine ( DEA) is a hormone disruptor.
  • Abrasives( i.e. silica) can strip away enamel.
  • Saccharin is a known human carcinogen.


Are these other ingredients safe? 

As you can see, many of them disrupt our delicate hormonal balance or are known to cause cancer. Although we spit out much of the toothpaste, some will get swallowed or absorbed in the mouth and add to our toxic load.

The health of our teeth has been linked to chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Organic & Natural Toothpaste Options

Are organic and natural toothpaste any safer?  Organic/natural toothpastes tend to use natural ingredients, not chemicals, to achieve the same effect.

  • Tea tree oil is a common ingredient because it is antibacterial.
  • Baking soda is an abrasive without the harmful effect to tooth enamel.
  • Xylitol increases saliva and prevent cavities.
  • Dicalcium phosphate helps remineralize teeth.
  • Flavors and colors are naturally derived from plants so they’re not toxic. 


Healthy teeth are critical to our overall health and wellness. It is never too late to start a consistent routine of brushing and flossing after every meal. Just as with organic and natural food choices, to reduce your toxic load, try switching to a natural toothpaste. For the slight increase in cost, your body will thank you. The Environmental Working Group rates all toothpaste so you can check you current one and look for something more natural.

Click here for more information.


Donna Bacchi, MD, MPH has over 30 years of clinical experience improving patient health and wellbeing using a broad- based approach that focuses on the four pillars of wellness- nutrition, physical activity, stress reduction and mindfulness. Dr. Bacchi received her bachelor’s degree in nutritional science from Cornell University, a medical degree from University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and a Master of Public Health degree from Johns Hopkins University. She has lectured across the country on a variety of nutrition and public health related topics. She currently resides in Southport, NC where she is on the Brunswick County Health Advisory Board, is a co-chair of the Way to Wellness Initiative, and sees clients looking to improve their health by addressing the root causes using the four pillars of wellness.