Beyond the Smile

Written by Miessence colleague, K.L.

I thought writing an article about toothpaste would be simple. I’ll just do some research about ingredients in common commercial toothpastes. As soon as I started, I realised I would need to provide some information about fluoride – and that’s where it gets interesting. I found myself scrolling the internet with page after page about the toxic effects of fluoride. Wanting to hear both sides of the story, I contacted a large toothpaste manufacturer who lists the benefits of fluoride on their website. I asked them to provide me with the references to support their claims. Two emails later, they have been unable to provide me with any information prior to publishing this article and asking that I be more specific with my question…

In this article, I will share with you my opinion and information about the history of toothpaste, fluoride and other toxic ingredients that you might like to avoid, as well as some receipes for mouth wash and toothpaste that you can make at home. This information is purely based on my research. Please feel free to do your own. At the end of the article are the references I have used to support my claims (unlike the large oral health corporation).

We all know that maintaining good oral health is essential to maintaining good overall health. The evidence is there on the “inter-google-web” for all to see. We know that good oral hygiene prevents tooth decay and gum disease; however, it is also associated with reducing the risk of more serious diseases including cardiovascular disease.

One theory is that bacteria from the mouth can travel through the bloodstream and set up inflammation elsewhere in the blood vessels in the cardiovascular system,” Dr Alldritt explains. “The other theory is that heart disease and gum disease have common risk factors – like stress, smoking and poor diet – so we see a link,” he adds. (1)

History of Toothbrushes and Toothpastes

Our ancient ancestors used twigs to scrape the plaque off their teeth. They even chewed aromatic tree twigs to freshen their breath. It is believed the first toothbrushes were made in China out of the hair from the neck of a pig that had been attached to a bone or bamboo handle. In 1938, the invention of nylon replaced the use of animal hair and the modern toothbrush was developed.

It is believed the ancient Egyptians and Romans used paste to keep teeth and gums clean and freshen breath. The paste was abrasive and included ingredients like burnt eggshells, crushed bones and oyster shells, powdered charcoal and bark.

In the 1850’s, early versions of toothpaste contained soap and chalk or charcoal and consisted of powders until a crème was developed with mass production starting in 1873. Fluoride toothpastes were introduced in 1914 and soap was replaced by ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulphate, to make it smooth, in the mid 1940’s.

Today toothpastes typically contain fluoride, artificial colouring, flavouring, sweetener and ingredients to make a smooth paste, foam and to keep it moist. (2)

Fluoride

Fluoride is a mineral and is added to toothpaste with the aim to help re-mineralise teeth that have been demineralised by bacterial plaque. Fluoride can make mineralisation happen more quickly as it can substitute to form part of the structure of the enamel, therefore helping to prevent cavities.

Fluoride is a neurotoxin and is not an essential nutrient for humans. No disease – not even tooth decay – is caused by a fluoride deficiency. It is not needed and in fact can interfere with many biological processes.

The trials about the benefits of fluoride were conducted between 1945-55 and have since been criticised for poor methodology. (3)

Over exposure to fluoride, known as fluorosis, is a condition that affects the teeth when the enamel is forming and can lead to white spots on the teeth.

Fluoride in the water supply is a controversial topic. What is interesting to note is:

  • 98% of western Europe has rejected water fluoridation
  • 90% of the UK does not fluoridate their water
  • China and Asia do not fluoridate water
  • India install filters on their water treatment plants to remove it

It appears that Australia, USA and Canada are the exceptions to the rest of the world.

The fluoride that is generally used to fluoridate water in Australia is made of three main compounds:

This is different to the fluoride mineral found in many rocks and the source of the naturally occurring fluoride ion in water supplies, which is calcium fluoride.

Some interesting information about the harmful effects and uses of fluoride include (4):

– Active ingredient in rat poison

– More toxic than lead

– Found to cause motor disfunction, IQ deficits, learning disabilities in children

– Affects thyroid function

– Damages bones and teeth and may lead to bone cancer

– Impairs memory and concentration

– Lethargy, depression

– Increase in suicide

– Can lead to onset of diabetes

Have you noticed the fine print on toothpaste packaging or well-known brand websites advising against using toothpaste for infants under 2 years old and that young children should be supervised when brushing their teeth to ensure they don’t swallow too much toothpaste?

I was raised in Tasmania until age 9 and we had fluoride added to our water supply back then in the 1960’s (showing my age now). Without testing the water for the ingredients and levels, it’s difficult to know how that may affect my health long term. I don’t have any fillings, however my sister who was raised with the same water supply until age 5 does.

I’m not convinced that putting something in our water supply that is not an essential nutrient is good for us. I am concerned about the potential health risks that we are regularly exposed to through ingestion and absorption of toxic ingredients and what they are doing to us. The effects identified appear to be on the increase…for me, that is enough to justify my decision to avoid fluoride.

I have used filtered tap water for over 15 years and now live on a property that relies on tank and bore water. I have also been brushing with the non-fluoride Miessence toothpaste (ask your Rep for his/her shop link) for 4 years. My last regular dental check-up resulted in a clean bill of health and for the very first time, I had no gum bleed after my scrape and clean.

Toothpaste Ingredients

“Over the course of your life it can be expected that you will use approximately 75 litres (20 gallons) of toothpaste!” (5,6)

“Whilst you spit most of it out (and then it goes down the drain and ultimately into our waterways), some of the ingredients will end up in your blood stream. What are these ingredients and could brushing your teeth potentially be causing you harm?” (7)

“Mainstream supermarket brands are full of toxic ingredients, some of which actually undermine teeth and gum health.” (8)

One of the main ingredients that I want to avoid in all products, not just toothpaste, is sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS). SLS is a surfactant that makes toothpaste (and other products) foam. It can irritate the mucous membrane in the mouth (mucosa) and cause white sores known as canker sores.

Another nasty ingredient that can be found in toothpaste is triclosan. This is an antibacterial agent, used in a range of antibacterial products and is bad news for both us and our environment. It is an endocrine disruptor, which means it affects our hormones. It also causes damage to the environment when it gets into our waterways. It has been removed from most brands due to safety concerns, however there are still one or two toothpastes on the shelves that contain it, so check the ingredients folks!

Brushing and Flossing

Dental plaque is a build up of the bacteria on our teeth and gums. Brushing and flossing our teeth helps to remove food debris and plaque. Brushing also helps create healthy gums by massaging and stimulating circulation. Even brushing without toothpaste helps promote good oral health.

Flossing is an important part of your oral hygiene routine which reduces your risk of periodontal disease. Depending on the brand of floss you use, it may increase your exposure to toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals which are used to make the floss glide easily between your teeth.

PFAS are a group of industrial, man-made persistent chemicals found in food packaging, household products and cosmetics, and are associated with some cancers, thyroid disease and ulcerative colitis. (9)

A healthier option is to use a dental floss free from toxins. There are several on the market with some containing beneficial ingredients like activated charcoal.

Homemade Baking Soda Toothpaste

This is all you need to make your own toothpaste at home:

  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2–4 tablespoons baking soda or a combination of baking soda and sea salt
  • Up to 1 tablespoon xylitol powder (optional)
  • 20 drops cinnamon or clove essential oil (optional)
  • 20 drops peppermint essential oil (optional)
  • small glass jar

Mouthwash

Most mouthwashes contain alcohol, which actually dries out the mucosa. Having a dry mouth can increase the risk of cavities. (10) There are healthy alternatives such as the Miessence Mouthwash (again, ask your Rep for his/her shop link). You could also try making your own with this DIY recipe:

  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. xylitol
  • 8 drops peppermint essential oil or other oil, optional
  • 20 drops mineral drops
  • 1 cup distilled water

Add all of the ingredients to a storage bottle and mix thoroughly. Shake before each use to help disperse the oils and any baking soda or traces of salt that may have settled to the bottom of the bottle.

Healthy Diet

The saliva in our mouths helps to maintain the right pH to look after our teeth and prevent demineralisation. Our digestive tract has a delicate balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria and includes our mouth. An acidic environment in the mouth caused by the ‘bad” bacteria can lead to cavities and poor oral health.

We can support the healthy bacteria in our mouth by limiting the food and drinks that cause an acidic environment by making sure we eat plenty of nutritious whole foods. Click here for a list of alkaline and acidic foods.

Closing

You now know a little more about what lies behind the smile. Whether you decide to ditch and switch your current oral health hygiene products is up to you. If you are interested in sourcing hand-crafted, truly natural products without harsh ingredients, please contact your Miessence Rep for more information.


BONUS: Click here to hear Narelle Chenery, founder of Miessence, explain why she will never use fluoride in the Miessence oral health products.


References

1- https://www.hcf.com.au/health-agenda/health-care/common-conditions/the-importance-of-oral-health

2- www.colgate.com

3-https://edgecastlo.onegrp.com/mwc/miaccount/business/en/resources/Product/Fluoride.pdf

4-https://fluoridealert.org

5-http://theconversation.com/four-myths-about-water-fluoridation-and-why-theyre-wrong-80669

6-https://edgecastlo.onegrp.com/mwc/miaccount/business/en/resources/Videos/FridaysWithNarelle-Fluoride.m4v

7-https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/09/09/toxic-toothpaste-ingredients.aspx

8-https://holistictoothfairy.com/optimize

9-https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2019/01/23/dental-floss-toxic-chemicals-exposure.aspx

10-https://thethingswellmake.com/diy-homemade-mouthwash/

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