If we visited your child’s hygiene products, what brand of toothpaste would we find?
If your answer is SpongeBob SquarePants or some other equally beloved character, we urge you to rethink this choice … and fast. Why?
The truth is, just because kids love the taste—and the icon on the package encourages children to brush and keep their teeth healthy—doesn’t mean the toothpaste itself is healthy. In fact, the opposite is likely true.
As shocked as you may be to hear it, there is alarming concern today when it comes to our toothpaste. If you’re like most people, the name-brand Crest or Colgate is probably sitting in your bathroom, and if so, you probably wonder what could possibly be wrong with the toothpaste you’ve grown up on and love.
For starters, you’ve probably never read the label. Like the majority of consumers who don’t think these products present risks, you likely buy what’s familiar and simply ignore the ingredients. After all, isn’t it safe to assume that it wouldn’t be available if it wasn’t harmless? Sadly, the answer to that is a resounding NO. Take a look at the label and you will find this:
Warning: Keep out of reach of children under 6 yrs of age. If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.
Isn’t it a little concerning that something we’re putting in our mouths has a label with the words Poison Control Center? Yes, warnings are found on most products for our protection, but toothpaste—poisonous? When it comes to our children—and ourselves—we can’t afford NOT to notice warnings like these. But, you may be thinking, if it’s approved by the ADA (American Dental Association), how could this be?
Well, let’s take a closer look at the ingredients, specifically sodium fluoride. Fluoride, as mentioned in an earlier post, can be a good thing, in moderation. The problem is that manufacturers have begun to use this essentially waste byproduct in so many things that we’re becoming overexposed to it. The result is leading to perilous health issues, especially for our children.
So what is it about fluoride that makes it so dangerous?
In small doses it has been proven to help prevent and reduce tooth decay, promoting healthy teeth. In large doses, however, side effects can include everything from dental fluorosis (decaying of the teeth) to death. Researchers are now finding links between overexposure to fluoride and brain development (lower IQs) as well as a connection to skeletal fluorosis, osteoporosis, and many other health concerns, including increased risk for cancer.
So how do we define overexposure?
Imagine removing your child from the fluoride pill at school, no longer using a fluoride rinse at home, and using water from a private well that isn’t treated. You’d probably think that your children were safe from overexposure, right? But if you take a closer look at your children’s food intake, you’ll find that fluoride is present in juice, cereal, and fruit-based products, to name just a few. (For more examples of fluoride-laden foods, please visit: http://www.fluoridealert.org/f-sources.htm.)
So how much fluoride is your child getting? Honestly it’s hard to tell. What we do know is that too much is dangerous to their health, so if you can eliminate all products you know have fluoride in them, you’ll be a huge step ahead. The 1Center for Disease Control has reported that up to 48% of US school children have dental fluorosis, a direct result of overexposure to fluoride. In addition, 2Tony Lees, a dentist for 40 years in Herefordshire, believes that “fluoride should be banned from toothpastes and water. The marginal benefit it displays for teeth does not outweigh its general dangers,” he says. He further states that “in the scale of toxicity, fluorides fall between arsenic and lead. Dental fluorosis is not just a cosmetic problem, but the visible sign of chronic fluoride poisoning, and children are more vulnerable than adults.”
Being armed with this information, you can now seek a toothpaste that doesn’t contain fluoride, as well as search out food products that don’t include it either. It all starts with awareness, and enough negative remarks and controversy on fluoride exist to motivate us to avoid it wherever possible.
For those ready to eliminate fluoride, at least first from toothpaste, Tom’s of Maine offers a children’s strawberry toothpaste without fluoride, and Burt’s Bees offers a Natural Multicare Toothpaste without fluoride, among others. But we particularly love Earthpaste made by Redmond Trading Company, which is made of natural clay and essential oils and is perfectly safe, even if swallowed in its entirety.
More articles on the topic can be found at the following links: