Diet & LifestyleHealth

The Ingredients In Toothpaste Can Cause Cancer, Disrupt Thyroid Hormones and Affect Heart Function

Image via Kevin McShane/Flickr

Just read the label on any major brand toothpaste or mouthwash. You’ll see they are full of dangerous chemicals and toxins, like sodium fluoride, propylene glycol, sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), triclosan, and more.

Even the warning label on any conventional toothpaste states, “Do not swallow,” and “in case of accidental ingestion, contact the poison control centre.” I mean, it’s common sense that you wouldn’t put poison in your mouth, and yet, even with warning labels as clear as these, people still assume that it is safe to use toothpaste in their mouth.

Now, the main argument is usually that we spit out toothpaste and don’t swallow it, however, our mouth is one of the most absorbent places on our body. Anything that is in toothpaste has the capacity to absorb through the tissues of the mouth, and from under the tongue, and straight into the bloodstream.

This is why you should be very careful when choosing toothpaste, and to use ingredients that you wouldn’t be afraid of consuming yourself (such as the coconut oil and baking soda recipe below).

Dangerous Ingredients In Toothpaste

Any toothpaste with these ingredients should definitely be avoided!

1. Fluoride

Although fluoride has been hailed as the cure-all for decaying teeth, often touted by dental professionals, it has been receiving scrutiny in recent years, and for good reason. One study found that the fluoride formed on your teeth from toothpaste products is only six nanometers thick (1). To put that into perspective, that is about 10,000 layers needed to create the width of the strand of one piece of hair.

It is questionable, then, whether fluoride really helps the teeth at all. Fluoride is a toxic chemical that accumulates in your tissues over time. It produces many ill health effects, and does a number on your nervous system. Fluoride also causes dental fluorosis, a defect of tooth enamel caused by fluoride’s interference with developing teeth in children. It is often characterized by yellow or mottled teeth.

Besides, one study found that eating chocolate better repaired and re-mineralized exposed dentin than fluoride toothpaste (2).

2. Propylene Glycol

This additive is a type of mineral oil that is often used in antifreeze, paints, enamels and airplane de-icers. The stuff that is in toothpaste is pharmaceutical-grade form, with the role of surfactant (a substance that reduces surface tension between two liquids). Research has found that propylene glycol is a known skin, eye, and lung irritant, and can cause organ system toxicity (3).

3. Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and saccharin are often added to conventional toothpastes. These sweeteners have neurotoxic effects, as they break down into methanol (a harmful version that is free-floating, instead of bonded to pectin, such as the methanol found in fruit and vegetables). Once it reaches the brain, methanol is converted into formaldehyde, which causes major neurological problems like headaches, dizziness, nausea, weakness, numbness, shooting pains, and behavioural disturbances.

4. Artificial Colours

Artificial dyes and colourings are toxic, carcinogenic, and contribute to ADHD (4). These colourings are commonly found in kids’ gel-based toothpaste formulas. White toothpaste is often coloured with titanium dioxide, often in nano-particle form, which can absorb into the bloodstream through the gums. Titanium dioxide poses a potential risk for developing cancer or other genetic disorders (5).

5. Artificial Preservatives

Artificial preservatives like parabens are everywhere, including toothpaste. Studies have shown that parabens mimic the activity of the hormone estrogen in the body’s cells, and have even been found present in breast tumour samples (6). We’re exposed to parabens from many different sources, so keeping your intake to a minimum by actively avoiding paraben loaded toothpaste is crucial.

6. Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS)

This is used to make products foam, and can greatly irritate the skin or lining of the mouth. It is highly carcinogenic and can also cause hormone imbalances. The manufacturing of SLS also makes it contaminated with a highly carcinogenic byproduct called 1,4 dioxane (7). Definitely not something you want to be putting in your mouth.

7. Triclosan

This antibacterial agent that forms carcinogenic chloroform when it comes into contact with water is found in almost all conventional toothpaste. It is also a major endocrine-disrupting chemical that can promote problems related to hormone development in children (8).

8. Diethanolamine (DEA)

Another foaming agent, DEA is a known hormone disruptor and can react with other ingredients to create a carcinogen called NDEA (N-nitrosodiethanolamine). This chemical is readily absorbed into the skin, and has been linked with cancers of the liver, esophagus, stomach and bladder (9).

Safe Toothpaste Brands

If you don’t want to make your own toothpaste according to the recipe below (although I highly suggest you do), then you can opt for the toothpaste brands below:
– Earthpaste
– Miessence
– Poofy Organics

I’ve been using oil-pulling and coconut oil toothpaste for at least 6 years now, and have never had any complaints about my teeth. I got a check-up a year ago and the dental hygienist was amazed how good my teeth were. Keep in mind, however, that I do eat a high-raw plant-based diet, which in and of itself keeps teeth healthy, mineralized and strong.

How To Make Your Own Toothpaste

Making your own toothpaste isn’t that hard. Plus, it saves money on purchasing toothpaste from the store. I can make 1 cup of toothpaste for under $2, and it doesn’t run out for a good 6 months! How crazy is that? I’d normally spend $8 on natural, organic toothpaste and run out of it in half the time.

This recipe uses coconut oil, baking soda, and essential oils (optional). You can also brush your teeth with activated charcoal before the coconut oil toothpaste brushing if you want to whiten up your teeth (activated charcoal is even better at whitening teeth than toxic bleaching methods).


– 1 cup coconut oil
– 4 tbsp. baking soda
– 10 drops essential oil of choice (this is optional, but recommended. Peppermint, spearmint and cinnamon are the yummiest!)


1. Melt the coconut oil in a pot, and stir in the baking soda.
2. Add in essential oils if you want.
3. Let the mixture solidify by placing in the fridge or letting it sit at room temperature if it isn’t too hot outside.
4. Give the mixture a good mix once solidified, as the baking soda probably settled to the bottom.
5. Place in a glass mason jar and use as needed! This stuff lasts forever.

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