Boyfriend and I are often at bat with each other over one thing or another. Most recently, it’s been over fluoride and commercial toothpaste. Boyfriend is from Ontario, and in addition to using commercial toothpaste, he also uses a mouthwash with fluoride that he seeks out specifically because it has fluoride. And I’m from British Columbia where we make it our job to be skeptical about everything and to cultivate a distaste for anything processed. So what’s the deal? To fluoride? Or not to fluoride? Tube or no tube? What happens when one Crunchy 20 something ditches the tube for one month?
The Case For
Fluoride is recommended by dentists, and used by dentists in regular practice. Fluoride has been shown to improve the overall health of your teeth and gums and prevents cavities. Fluoride has been used for decades and there isn’t enough scientific evidence to date to overturn its use as a community problem. Fluoride does occur naturally, and many municipalities do not need to fluoridate their water because fluoride already exists. My community is one of these municipalities, and they are open about how they treat their water on their website.
The Case Against
Studies do not show that fluoride improves the overall health of your mouth. New studies show that fluoridation may actually hurt you and build up inside your body, specifically your bones. Ingesting fluoride should be voluntary, and families should be able to control the amount of fluoride that they intake. Young children especially may be at risk when ingesting fluoride if taken as a supplement.
I don’t have young children to worry about. My municipality doesn’t add additional fluoride, and the natural fluoride levels are very very low. The only way I’m intentionally putting fluoride into my body is through commercial toothpastes. Which opens a whole new debate
The Case For
It’s toothpaste. They give it to you for free at the dentist’s. Seriously, what’s wrong with it?
The Case Against
Most toothpastes contain terrible ingredients that harm the earth. And if it harms the earth, changes are it harms your body. Ingredients like Sodium Lauryl Sulphate directly contributes the deaths of baby otters worldwide (drama: mine.)
I do not want to contribute to the death of baby otters. So I made my own toothpaste.
Adapted From Bonzai Aphrodite
- 4 tablespoons of baking soda
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, warmed to a liquid state
- 3 teaspoons xylitol* OR a wee bit of stevia, to taste.
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of food grade peppermint oil
Mix everything in your toothpaste jar until it’s all good and friendly.
*Xylitol is kind of hinky and as I understand it, reacts differently with different people. In some, it’s a painful physical reaction that lets you be friends with the inside of your bathroom. In others, it doesn’t bother them at all. So do your research! It doesn’t bother me, and I’ve had no problems thusfar. Xylitol has been shown to be beneficial to your oral health.
What did I learn?
I learnt that the toothpaste I now use takes a bit of time to get used to. Really saline. Like really really. But after a while you don’t notice it. I find it easeir to handle the saline issue if you wet the tooth brush and paste before putting it into your mouth. You’ve got to scoop it with a spoon onto your brush. I’m thinking of trying a ziploc baggie strategy in the winter when my apartment isn’t so warm and the coconut oil isn’t so melty.
I noticed that since it doesn’t foam like a regular toothpaste, I dribble all over the place. Like, seriously dribble. Like oil-pulling dribble. I’m still trying to manage that. My mouth does feel just as clean as with commercial toothpaste, and it still feels clean in the morning. No sensetivity issues, no gum bleeding. I have the same kind of mouth fuzzies, so that’s no big deal.
But something that is a big deal, is last night. Last night I switched back to regular toothpaste, because I was too lazy to open my jar, grab the spoon on the counter and carefully place it on my toothbrush. And holy macaroni, my mouth BURNED. It hurt to brush my teeth with commercial toothpaste. I’m not sure what the reason is, since I’ve had no sensetivity problems. But it hurt. For a good two minutes.
I doubt I’ll ever do the tube again.
- Recommendations for Using Fluoride to Prevent and Control Dental Caries in the United States – Long. Really long.
- Water Fluoridation Controversy Wikipedia – Short, sweet and to the point. Remember to check out the “talk” tab on Wikipedia pages to see the ongoing discussions.
- Grassroots Environmental Education References Video for the one I posted above
- 50 Reasons to oppose Fluoride – Includes sources
- CRD FAQ on Fluoride in Victoria BC
- Toothpaste Ingredients to Avoid
- David Suzuki: Chemicals in Cosmetics
- Crunchy Betty on Xylitol – Read the comments too!
- Developing Public Health Interventions with Xylitol in the US – A paper on Xylitol as it is used in the US
- Advances in Food Research Vol. 25 – An extensive paper on xylitol, problems and benefits