Is your Toothpaste Toxic?

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Welcome to watchdog for news about the hidden dangers in toothpaste.

Many groups are concerned about fluoride in toothpaste but we feel this danger has been exaggerated. It is true that younger children should not be exposed to high levels (especially before the age of six years) but like salt/iodine a certain level of fluoride is beneficial. The guidelines for fluoride recommendations as related to toothpastes are being carefully reviewed by the dental associations.

IF YOUR CHILD HAS SWALLOWED A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF TOOTHPASTE CONTACT A LOCAL POISON CENTER ASAP (Dial 911 if in doubt). Further information may be found on this link.  Death is rare but you should play it safe and take it seriously.

According to our research, the amount of toothpaste recommended for children under six has been reduced to the size of a grain of rice. After that the size of a pea has been suggested, and regardless of the age toothpaste should be spit out. People with a higher decay risk should ask their dentist for advice and one tip may be using a higher fluoride toothpaste, spitting after brushing (but NOT rinsing out with water). Again, many experts feel the toxicity of the fluoride is NOT the problem, but there are potentially other risks to consider.

Tartar Fighting Toothpastes & Toxic Reactions

A recent press release reviewed the concerns related to chemical additives in the tartar control formulations and "total" protection brands. The belief that these chemicals cause harmful effects is related to the increased risk of occurrence of painful mouth sores (aphthous ulcers). These lesions have no known cure and heal slowly over 7-10 days. These painful ulcers occur in approximately 20% of the population*, so it is estimated that a typical family would have a greater than 60% chance of having a person react to this formulation of toothpaste.

Some sources have blamed other additives (like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): is the foaming agent found in most toothpaste and mouthwash formulations) for the ulcer reaction, but the author of the book 'Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist' (Michael Zuk DDS) feels it is the tartar control formulation that has the highest risk.

The author suggests that the large companies that sell 'tartar control' toothpastes will be negatively affected if the regulatory commissions acted appropriately to reduce the chemicals used in certain formulations. According to the Colgate website, the company stock has outpaced the S&P 500 by about four times the return over the last 25 years. If you add the drop in sales together with class action suits related to this issue the cumulative effect could be enormous.

It is very likely that the FDA will eventually take this issue seriously and create a consumer 'flight to safety' away from certain toothpastes and towards 'all natural brands'.

*Reference: Textbook of Oral Pathology, 4th edition- Shafer, Hine, Levy. p.368- aphthous ulcer

Review of the Chemicals in Toothpastes

Numerous websites have described the assorted chemicals in dental products and some of the links include:

  • Check this link specifically for a new treatment for aphthous ulcers which may reduce the healing time. Do not confuse the aphthous ulcer with the herpes (canker sore), which is viral and not related to the theme of our website. These terms are sometimes used interchangeably by mistake.
  • FDA reviews chemicals which are also found in toothpaste.
  • The Oral Health Bible - available on

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