While no one needs triclosan in toothpaste, per our Oct. 4th “Daily Tips,” what about fluoride? Should we brush with it, or not? Quick answer: Yes, children should use fluoridated toothpaste to help prevent cavities, says the American Dental Association, except for those younger than two years, who might swallow rather than spit it out.
Why the concern? Risks of too much fluoride exposure include skeletal fluorosis, or brittle bones, and dental fluorosis, or discoloration of teeth. And 67 percent of Americans are already swallowing fluoride in their tap water. Fluoride has been added to New York City drinking water since 1965. Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and other Southern California counties, on the other hand, are scheduled to start fluoridation of public water supplies in November, despite opposition from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which argues that children get enough protection in toothpaste, the form in which fluoride is most effective against cavities, and that adding fluoride to drinking water will expose up to 64,000 children to levels that exceed safety thresholds established by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Association of Science.
Note: Most water filters, including Brita and Pur, do not remove fluoride.
Fluoride or not, unsavory and possibly unhealthy ingredients in conventional toothpastes can include triclosan, saccharine and other artificial sweeteners, phthalates, parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium hydroxide (lye).
GreenerPenny’s Better Toothpaste Picks
Tom’s Natural Anticavity Baking Soda toothpaste uses fluoride to fight cavities and peppermint oil for taste. Free of artificial sweeteners. $3.99 at http://www.drugstore.com/, $2.99 on the shelf at Whole Foods.
Jason Power Smile All Natural Whitening CoQ10 Tooth Gel contains fluoride, but the flavors are all from plant essential oils (no phthalate-laced synthetic “fragrances”), $7.49 at http://www.drugstore.com/.
A fresh find, Tate’s Natural Miracle Toothpaste, made in Ohio, is fluoride- and petrochemical-free, made of plant extracts such as peppermint, geranium and sage. Pricey but tasty at $14.95 for a 5-oz bottle, http://www.ourtatefamily.com/Tate.
More affordable, Jason Sea Fresh, Deep-Sea Spearmint and Power Smile All-Natural Whitening toothpastes are also fluoride-free, $5.69 at http://www.drugstore.com/, $3.99 at Whole Foods; Kiss My Face AloeDyne Whitening Toothpaste, $5.99 at http://www.drugstore.com/.
Sick of Mint? Auromere Mint-free Herbal Toothpaste is flavored with cinnamon, rose apple and clove, $5.99 at http://www.davidsnaturalmarket.com/.
In this month’s Plenty Magazine (http://www.plentymag.com/) an editor seeking saccharine-free toothpastes preferred these 5 out of a test group of 12: Jason Power Smile with fluoride (above); Kiss My Face Triple Action Certified Organic Aloe Vera Toothpaste CoQ10 Tooth Gel, without, $6 (http://www.kissmyface.com/); The Natural Dentist Healthy Teeth & Gums Toothpaste, fluoride-free with Xylitol, $5.99 (http://www.thenaturaldentist.com/); TheraNeem Herbal Neem Toothpaste, without, $7.49 (http://www.organixshop.com/); and Weleda Salt Toothpaste,without, $4.99 http://www.weleda.com/, or at Whole Foods.
For the science on fluoride, and safety tips, see www.thegreenguide.com/doc/110/healthnews and http://www.ewg.org/
For an excellent overview of the current fluoride controversy in Southern California, see http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/health/20070916-9999-1n16fluoride.html