The use of toothpaste is considered by many to be beneficial to the prevention of tooth decay and gum disease. Common chemicals, such as, Fluoride, Triclosan (TCS), Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Artificial Sweeteners, and Propylene Glycol are often found in many popular brands of toothpaste. While each ingredient serves as an aid to good oral hygiene they also pose a risk to consumers. Many of these substances are known carcinogens and have been linked to health problems associated with endocrine disorders, gastrointestinal complications, and neurological diseases. In this review we will examine the exposure and absorption of each chemical, the health risks that each of these substance poses, and alternative products that may reduce the consumption of these toxins.
Exposure of Fluoride, Triclosan (TCS), Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Artificial Sweeteners, and Propylene Glycol happen via inhalation and the use of topical treatments, such as toothpaste. Once a person comes into contact with these substances they are absorbed into body tissues and can be passed into the bloodstream. The passage into the bloodstream is where the potential for adverse effects to occur. In the case of TCS, studies have shown the ability for it to cause adverse effects in human cells. Some of these substances are also transmitted through breast milk and pose risks to infants. They also come with the risk to be passed to developing a developing fetus in utero.
Fluoride is commonly used in dental products in order to help strengthen tooth enamel which aids in the prevention of tooth decay. In small doses fluoride is not found to be harmful. However, once it is ingested adverse effects may arise and usually pose a risk to small children, often due to poor dental practices. Health effects like dental fluorosis and skeletal fluorosis can become a problem. Dental fluorosis is the hypo mineralization of tooth enamel that can cause permanent tooth discoloration and physical damage. While, skeletal fluorosis is a bone disease linked to high amounts of fluoride in the bones. This often leads to pain in the joints, and in some severe cases deformation of the bones and spine.
Triclosan is an antimicrobial used in most personal care products. While, analysis on the effects of TCS on humans is limited there have been alarming health concerns shown in studies on mice. The studies have been so troubling that in 2016 TCS was banned from hand soap because of links to problems with developmental health, as well as, reproductive concerns and thyroid hormone disruption. However, due to its properties to effectively inhibit the growth of bacteria that may lead to gum disease it remains in most brands of toothpaste. When ingested TCS poses a health risk because it can enter the bloodstream and become imbedded in fatty tissue. This then allows it to be transmitted through urine and even breast milk, posing a threat to infants. It also has the potential to initiate changes in cells. Studies conducted on mice implicate that TCS imitates thyroid hormones and can inhibit production. This, ultimately, disrupts the reproductive system and its function. Properties of TCS that kill bacteria are also linked to a weakened immune system. Findings show that when TCS is ingested and goes through the gastrointestinal tract it has the ability to kill off beneficial bacteria in the gut. Once this bacteria is killed off it lowers the body’s capability to combat illness that is normally neutralized.