In any case, this article aims to answer any questions you may have about switching to a clay-based toothpaste or clay-based tooth powder.
One of the most appealing things about natural clay toothpaste is that they are much safer... often made with naturally-sourced, wholesome, and organic ingredients (the good ones, anyway).
On the other hand, most "regular toothpaste" brands are full of toxic chemicals—even the more popular and sometimes most expensive brands.
Is Your Toothpaste Toxic?
Are you still using one of the conventional white or blue mint-flavored pastes found in tubes across supermarket shelves under dozens of big brand names? If yes, you might want to pay extra close attention because your toothpaste could be hazardous to you and your family’s health.
It's not an overreaction or paranoia to be concerned about the chemicals in "regular toothpaste”. The chemicals found in most traditional toothpaste are, in fact, insanely dodgy. And with the amount of them also in other personal hygiene products, it's no wonder chronic disease is a regular part of everyday life for many people.
But you are here reading this article. Likely, you've at least begun to question the safety of some of the ingredients in toothpaste too.
It's not very hard to see for yourself. The best way to determine if your toothpaste is toxic or not is to look at the ingredients list. Several commonly used toothpaste ingredients can stress and harm various body systems.
You can decide for yourself if it’s worth the risk to you and your family or not. Here are some of the most commonly used toxic toothpaste ingredients to look out for and what you need to know about them.
Fluoride is the only active ingredient in toothpaste and probably the most contentious. Fluoride is the negative ion of the gas fluorine, which creates a “salt” when combined with other atoms like Sodium fluoride, Stannous fluoride, and others. Calcium fluoride is easily found in nature in trace amounts within rocks, plants, and soils.
Fluoride is said to "re-mineralize" tooth enamel by bonding to areas of decay and attracting other minerals, like calcium to the site of the damage.
Fluoride isn't a chemical our body needs like other vitamins and minerals, so the push to add this controversial chemical into our water and oral hygiene care is somewhat unclear.
Studies were done in the 1940’s on certain Colorado Springs and Idaho populations where fluoride was added to the drinking water supply of people with a dental disease called “mottled teeth”. Supposedly, the children in those selected towns and cities showed a 50-70 percent reduction in dental decay over 15 years. However, to this date there is still no data available to support the cavity reduction claims of these studies, nor were there any comparison groups analyzed. And even now, the amount of long-term, high-quality, unbiased research on fluoride for tooth decay is minimal.
It became standard to add fluoride to municipal drinking water supplies in the 1960’s, and the push to add it to all oral hygiene products came soon after.
But is it worth the risk even if fluoride is great for teeth? Fluoride significantly affects the body in a negative way when consumed or absorbed in large amounts. For example… fluoride is a known neurotoxin that can pass through the blood-brain barrier meant to protect the nervous system and brain. It can even pass into the placenta of an unborn child. (1)
Also, some fluoride does go into your bones and teeth and some passes through your urine, but it’s also known to accumulate in calcified areas of the body like the brain, thyroid and pineal gland. (2) (3)
Fluoride has been linked to:
- Sleep Issues
- Brain damage
- Thyroid Problems
- Nervous System Disorders
- Memory Problems
- Moderate Cancer Risk
- Increased Risk of Bone Fracture / Disease
- Early Puberty
- Diabetes Risk
Yep… the very same pickling liquid the pig you had to dissect in the eighth grade was in. And the same stuff morticians use to embalm bodies... may be in your toothpaste.
The formaldehyde comes from the addition of sweeteners such as Aspartame and Saccharine, which mutate into methanol and formaldehyde inside the body. (4)
By the way, these are the same sweeteners usually found in “diet” products.
Formaldehyde or Aspartame’s purpose in toothpaste is to kill unwanted bacteria while you are sleeping and to give your toothpaste a desirable taste but… there are simply better solutions.
Aspartame is carcinogenic and also a known neurotoxin. Aspartame came onto the scene in 1980, but the FDA quickly banned it per their own toxicologist, Dr. Adrian Gross, after three independent studies linked it to brain cancer and tumors. (5) It only took four years and some influential financial investors to approve aspartame for regular use, and to this day, it is commonly used in foods, supplements and hygiene products.
Most recently (2022), an extensive study involving 102,865 French adults found that artificial sweeteners — especially aspartame and acesulfame-K — likely increased cancer risk. Higher risks were also observed for breast cancer and obesity-related cancers. (6)
Aspartame has also been linked to:
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Stroke, Dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease
- Neurotoxicity and Brain Disorders
- Mood Disorders
- Headaches and Migraines
- A Decline in Kidney Health
- Metabolic Problems
- Intestinal Dysbiosis
- Pregnancy Abnormalities
- Sperm Damage
- Liver Damage
What is it with this war on bacteria?
Triclosan is used in many hygiene products, including oral hygiene products, deodorants, laundry detergents, mattresses, toilet fixtures, hand sanitizer, and more. This chemical has assertive antibacterial and antifungal properties, but it’s also been linked to numerous health problems. (7) For example, Triclosan inhibits thyroid function, is a suspected endocrine disruptor, and may even cause cancer.
Ohhh and Triclosan has been banned from use in soaps... but not in toothpaste. Weird huh?
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sometimes when people switch to all-natural toothpaste, one of their biggest hurdles can be the lack of "foam" and bubbles created during brushing, which is mostly a mental thing. We've all learned to associate bubbles and a minty flavor with a clean mouth.
Those bubbles often come from a dangerous chemical known as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)—another likely cause of cancer. SLS is used to thicken toothpaste and create that cascade of minty bubbles. It's also supposed to help dissolve plague around the gumlines, but in addition, it's a skin irritant and dangerous to flush down the waterlines as it pollutes water supplies. Further, SLS is hazardous to fish and wildlife, which we know because it's also used in pesticides and herbicides.
The industrial-grade Propylene Glycol is an active ingredient in engine coolants, antifreeze, paints, and, varnishes.
But in its pharmaceutical form, Propylene Glycol is used as a solvent. This questionable substance is added to many products, including most toothpaste. It's essentially a mineral oil and has been shown to lead to cancer, reproductive issues, skin problems, and chronic disease. (10)
DEA is also a foaming agent and stabilizer, often in toothpaste, shampoo, and other frothy products. The problem is that DEA has known side effects like throat and skin irritation. It’s also been tied to nervous system problems, blood conditions, liver, kidney problems, vision issues, and reproductive damage. (11) (12)
This is a relatively brief list and doesn't cover all harmful chemicals in "regular toothpaste". But honorable mentions include other preservatives, coloring, flavoring, sweeteners, and micro-plastics—all with their own list of unwanted side effects.
This information may be a bit unfortunate in some ways, but many natural kinds of toothpaste are safe, effective, and completely free from harmful chemicals, flavorings, and preservatives. And some of the most effective natural toothpaste and toothpowders today come from Primal Life Organics' dental hygiene line. Primal Life uses a blend of natural clays that are free from toxic chemicals and even help remove toxins from the body.
Earth clays have been utilized for their detoxification and healing properties for bygones. Primal Life toothpaste and toothpowder contain a blend of French green clay, Bentonite clay, and Kaoline clay.
This natural toothpaste contains zero fluorides. Other ingredients include baking soda (aluminum-free), Hydroxyapatite, monk fruit extract, colloidal-silver (toothpaste), and essential oils.
Absolutely no junk to be found in this most effective natural toothpaste. And Primal Life toothpaste and tooth powders are also gluten-free, glycerin-free, and vegan. Take your pick from several naturally tasty flavors.
What is Hydroxyapatite?
Hydroxyapatite, is a natural form of calcium phosphate. Calcium phosphate is a mineral that is highly biocompatible to your teeth. Hydroxyapatite can re-mineralize teeth, fend off and even stop the growth of cavities.
Up to 90% of your tooth enamel is calcium phosphate, along with a large percentage of your bones. Over time and through the consumption of acidic foods, your teeth can become exposed and even corrosive. Hydroxyapatite's job is to fill in any micro cracks and rebuild the teeth.
Hydroxyapatite is also known to reduce sensitivity in teeth, especially after whitening.
Fluoride has been known and used for its re-mineralizing qualities for a very long time now, but as discussed throughout this article, it can be unsafe and even toxic.
Hydroxyapatite is an excellent alternative to fluoride. Fluoride sits on the surface of the teeth, while Hydroxyapatite works from the root up as a natural source of re-mineralization.
One 2018 control study showed that hydroxyapatite was effective in re-mineralizing initial enamel lesions in young permanent teeth and their ability to resist secondary caries under dynamic pH cycling quantitatively and qualitatively. (13)
Another study determined that Hydroxyapatite was superior to fluoride in its ability to restore and repair teeth and a much better source of free CA. (14)
The benefits of Primal Life Organic and natural dental hygiene products go far beyond their simplicity and lack of harmful chemicals. Each clay has a specific set of benefits to offer.
Bentonite Clay is nontoxic and rich in important minerals found in your teeth – calcium and potassium.
Fun fact... Bentonite clay got its name from Fort Benton, Wyoming where you will still find its largest deposits today.
Bentonite Clay is cleansing as it gently scrubs and illustriously polishes the teeth.
Bentonite Clay is not only nontoxic, but many use it to remove dangerous toxins from the body. Scientific studies show that Bentonite clay can absorb negatively charged toxins like metals, mycotoxins, mold, fungus, bacteria, pesticides, herbicides, copper, cadmium, and lead. (15) (16)
Clay toothpaste can help undo the damage done by using toxic dental hygiene products in the past!
French Green Clay (also known as Illite Clay or Sea Clay) is very absorbent and helps cleanse the tissues from things like oils, toxins, and impurities found on the surface.
Consumption of mineral-rich clays is an age-old practice called geophagy and although you don’t eat Primal Life tooth care products, you get many of the benefits of clay just by using them for brushing.
Green clay is unique and used in Primal Life Organic products because of its antimicrobial properties and ability to improve circulation and tone. (17)
White Kaolin Clay is high in calcium, silica, zinc, and magnesium. It helps to whiten and polish the teeth. Kaolin clay and Bentonite clay are part of a class of naturally occurring minerals and consist of hydrated aluminum silicates. Kaolin clay has been used in animal feed for many years as a pellet binder and detoxifying agent. This kind of clay is much gentler and mild than other clays, which is why it's often used in facial masks and other skin products. Kaolin clay has also been touted for its capacity to tone skin and gums and reduce inflammation.
Natural Detoxification Action of Clay
Clays carry a uniquely strong negative charge which causes them to magnetically entice any substance with a positive ionic charge (i.e., bacteria, toxins, metals, parasites, fungus, etc.). The clay absorbs toxins sticking to the outside by drawing them inside via their super sponge-like clay molecules. Interestingly, these clays will actually ignore negatively charged ions like valuable nutrients.
Removing toxins from the body immediately affects multiple bodily systems and calms inflammation, improving circulation in teeth and gums. And the unique antibacterial properties can help regulate microbiome levels in the mouth. (18)
Detoxing Metals with Clay
Overexposure to certain heavy metals can harm your health. However, some metals are unavoidable as they are all around us in our food, air, and environment. In addition, some minerals are metals and are even necessary for normal bodily functions like calcium, copper, magnesium, zinc, potassium and others.
The FDA classifies metals like arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury as priority metals due to their high toxicity and danger to public health.
Earth clays, especially Bentonite clay, have been proven to remove many of these toxic metals from the body. (19)
The clays used in Primal Life Organic oral hygiene products are smectite clays. Smectite clays are a category of earthen clay minerals with a three-layer crystalline structure (one alumina and two silica layers) known to expand with the addition of liquid.
These clays are tightly bonded because of their molecular structure. Most of the minerals within the clays are fused tightly together, forming a massive shell of negative charges between tiny layers of clay particles. These negatively charged layers act as super-strong magnets, drawing in positively charged viruses, yeasts, molds, toxins and heavy metals found in the body and removing them. (20)
One study showed that feeding supplementation of Bentonite clay to pigs for 100 days lowered lead concentration in blood, brain, liver, bone, kidney, and hair altogether.
Other studies found Bentonite clay effective for decreasing copper toxicity in sheep.
Additionally, Bentonite clay decreased cadmium-induced cytotoxicity and genotoxicity in tilapia fish and even reversed cadmium-induced oxidative damage in the liver and kidneys. (21)
In general, it would seem that Bentonite clay is a steadfast treatment for heavy metal poisoning.
Now… there has been some debate surrounding the question of whether or not there are trace amounts of natural lead in Bentonite clay, which is actually pretty easy to address.
Do Natural Clays Contain Lead and Other Metals?
In short… yes, BUT (and it’s a biiiggg BUT) they aren’t really bioavailable to the body.
The truth be told, there are a ton of foods we eat that contain trace minerals including lead. Bentonite clay contains less than half the amount of lead than spinach, which happens to be lower in lead than sweet potatoes, collard greens, brussels sprouts and nuts.
Most trace minerals are actually necessary to the body in appropriate amounts; however, lead is not one of them.
Clays contain around 70-90 trace minerals, all of which have an important job to do… creating that tight bond discussed above as well as contributing to the negative ionic charge of the clay molecules.
In other words, the minerals in the clay are so tightly tied together that they only function as the whole clay molecule rather than the individual minerals. Therefore, they are not free minerals.
When you extract or alter specific compounds, they can become toxic and unfit for the body. Often when industrial compounds and chemicals are produced, there is a rearrangement, extraction and mutation to the molecular structure of the compounds, even if they are originally from natural sources. As a result, trace minerals and metal ores can become isolated, rendering them toxic to humans, animals, plants, and the environment.
Something to keep in mind is that products developed with more natural and unaltered ingredients are generally more compatible with the human body than those developed with lab-altered ingredients.
A review of the scientific literature reveals no evidence in the available information to suggest that earthen clays like Bentonite clay, French green clay, and Kaolin clay produce any hazard to the public when used correctly. (22)
The FDA rates clays like Bentonite clay as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe). (source)
You are not going to get lead poisoning from clays. If anything, we’ve proven how wonderful clays can be for removing heavy metal toxins.
Further, when it comes to lead specifically, it’s important to understand the difference between “bound lead” and “freelead.” To do this, we can look to the California law, Proposition 65.
Proposition 65 is a California law that requires businesses to warn California consumers about significant exposure to chemicals that may be present in products they purchase or in their homes, workplace or environment. Warning labels must, by law, be placed on all clay-containing products because of their trace metal content.
The chemical list for Proposition 65 contains around 900 chemicals; from synthetics to elemental impurities, which can naturally occur in organic ingredients.
ICP-MS is a very sensitive and precise analytical technique for determining the lead content of products. Yet, it cannot distinguish between “bound lead” and “free lead.” Thus, it can only detect total lead counts.
This is a critical contrast to understand because “bound lead” is not typically absorbed by the body, whereas “free lead” can be.
Again, Bentonite clay has a unique crystalline structure and a negative charge on its surface. Therefore, any lead ions in Bentonite clay are trapped inside these crystalline structures and bonded with surrounding atoms.
We’ve come a long way as a society as more families are searching for wholesome and safe personal hygiene products. We are right there with you. Primal Life Organics is proud to help pave the way and provide you and your family with quality and healthy hygiene products.
Hopefully, this article provided some helpful insight so you can make the best decisions for you and yours. Honestly, nothing matters more than the health of those you love.
Other blogs you might enjoy:
- Benefits of Bentonite Clay
- Hydroxy-what? Hydroxyapatite: The Secret Ingredient That Will Transform Your Oral Health
- Grandjean P. Developmental fluoride neurotoxicity: an updated review. Environ Health. 2019 Dec 19;18(1):110. doi: 10.1186/s12940-019-0551-x. PMID: 31856837; PMCID: PMC6923889.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6923889/
- Kheradpisheh Z, Mirzaei M, Mahvi AH, Mokhtari M, Azizi R, Fallahzadeh H, Ehrampoush MH. Impact of Drinking Water Fluoride on Human Thyroid Hormones: A Case- Control Study. Sci Rep. 2018 Feb 8;8(1):2674. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-20696-4. PMID: 29422493; PMCID: PMC5805681.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5805681/
- Luke J. Fluoride deposition in the aged human pineal gland. Caries Res. 2001 Mar-Apr;35(2):125-8. doi: 10.1159/000047443. PMID: 11275672.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11275672/
- Jacob SE, Stechschulte S. Formaldehyde, aspartame, and migraines: a possible connection. Dermatitis. 2008 May-Jun;19(3):E10-1. PMID: 18627677.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18627677/
- Olney JW, Farber NB, Spitznagel E, Robins LN. Increasing brain tumor rates: is there a link to aspartame? J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 1996 Nov;55(11):1115-23. doi: 10.1097/00005072-199611000-00002. PMID: 8939194.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8939194/
- (Charlotte Debras ,Eloi Chazelas,Bernard Srour et al., 2022) https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003950
- Weatherly LM, Gosse JA. Triclosan exposure, transformation, and human health effects. J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 2017;20(8):447-469. doi: 10.1080/10937404.2017.1399306. PMID: 29182464; PMCID: PMC6126357. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6126357/
- Lee, C. Y. G., Huang, Y. S., Hu, P. C., Gomel, V., & Menge, A. C. (1982). Analysis of sperm antigens by sodium dodecyl sulfate gel/protein blot radioimmunobinding method. Analytical Biochemistry, 123(1), 14-22.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0003269782906170
- Herlofson BB, Barkvoll P. Desquamative effect of sodium lauryl sulfate on oral mucosa. A preliminary study. Acta Odontol Scand. 1993 Feb;51(1):39-43. doi: 10.3109/00016359309041146. PMID: 8451922.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8451922/
- Zar T, Graeber C, Perazella MA. Recognition, treatment, and prevention of propylene glycol toxicity. Semin Dial. 2007 May-Jun;20(3):217-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-139X.2007.00280.x. PMID: 17555487.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17555487/
- El-Sawy, A. E. S. F., El-Maddawy, Z. K., & Ibrahiem, H. S. (2018). Reproductive Effects of Clanobutin Sodium or Menbutone Diethanolamine. Alexandria Journal for Veterinary Sciences, 59(1).http://alexjvs.com/fulltext/31-1529690670.pdf
- Abdl-Razzaq, H. T., & AL-AZZAWİ, M. N. A. (2017). Toxicology Study the Acute effects of Diethanolamine in Mice Blood and Liver (Oral study). Journal of International Environmental Application and Science, 12(1), 14-23.https://dergipark.org.tr/en/pub/jieas/issue/40287/480602
- Daas I, Badr S, Osman E. Comparison between Fluoride and Nano-hydroxyapatite in Remineralizing Initial Enamel Lesion: An in vitro Study. J Contemp Dent Pract. 2018 Mar 1;19(3):306-312. PMID: 29603704.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29603704/
- Pepla E, Besharat LK, Palaia G, Tenore G, Migliau G. Nano-hydroxyapatite and its applications in preventive, restorative and regenerative dentistry: a review of literature. Ann Stomatol (Roma). 2014 Nov 20;5(3):108-14. PMID: 25506416; PMCID: PMC4252862.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4252862/
- Yadav, V. B., Gadi, R., & Kalra, S. (2019). Clay based nanocomposites for removal of heavy metals from water: A review. Journal of environmental management, 232, 803-817.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301479718313859
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