In Summary
  • Many popular toothpastes and mouthwashes contain potentially harmful ingredients, which are made up of very small molecules that may penetrate through the tissue of your mouth, enter the blood stream, and build up in the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, and tissues.

It is ironic how we worry so much about carcinogens in our food when we could actually be liberally ingesting them daily through our toothpaste. According to dentists some of the popular toothpastes on the market contain ingredients that are doing more harm than good for your overall health. The most common ones are fluoride, antibiotics and other drugs used to prevent cavities, tartar or teeth sensitivity.

Dr. George Bwesigye, a General Practitioner from Najeera Hospital, reveals that most toothpaste contain monofluorophosphate fluorine aka floride meant for whitening of teeth which is very harmful if ingested because it weakens the bones if consumed in high doses. “Because fluoride is not normally digested, it goes into the bloodstream which results in skeletal fluorosis, a disease where there is excess fluoride in the bones. It causes damage to the bones and joints,” Dr. Bwesigye adds. In children who have not developed permanent teeth, it can prevent enamel from forming normally and cause discoloration.

Another chemical to look out for is triclosan, a chemical that kills bacteria that toxicological studies found to affect estrogen-mediated responses. Triclosan also cuts off the thyroid hormone and therefore is an endocrine disrupter. Previous research showed it disrupted thyroid hormone associated gene expression even at low levels and decreases circulating concentrations of the thyroid hormone thyroxine.

Artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharin have been linked to an increased risk to heart disease, higher body mass/obesity, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. It is made up of three chemical compounds: phenylalanine (amino acid), aspartic acid (amino acid) and methanol. Dr. Moses Hamya, a dentist explains that in large doses the amino acids can be toxic. When phenylalanine is chemically bound to other ingredients it is absorbed almost immediately into the bloodstream and not slowly in the digestive system (normal process of enzyme breakdown and liberation).

Musoke says microbeads are designed to get into hard to reach places and can get trapped in your gums. “In such cases when one remains lodged in a crevice of a tooth, it opens up the tooth and gum to bacteria which can lead to gum disease,” he explains.

Artificial Dyes
Color dye, most common in toothpaste: blue 1, blue 2 and red 40. Artificial coloring has been linked to behavioral problems (Europe requires it to be on the label), and to being carcinogenic.

Hydrated Silica
It can cause damage to the enamel and prevents re-mineralization which is so important for teeth health. Think about it like sandpaper against glass, eventually it will cause wear and tear. It not only can cause damage to your teeth, but the gum mucous membrane as well. It also can be contaminated with crystalline quartz which has shown to be carcinogenic.

Different dental practitioners have divergent views about the use of fluroide in toothpaste.
John Musoke a public health dental office says fluoride used in minimal amounts is good for the teeth. It only becomes dangerous however, when used in excess.
“One way it becomes excessive is when people already have enough of this mineral salt in their water. We usually see this problem in people who come from mountainous places such as Kisoro, Fort Portal and Mbale,” Musoke explains.
Musoke recommends the use of fluoride toothpaste for the good of the teeth. But he cautions people with preexisting conditions to use it carefully.

How to use toothpaste well
• You are using too much, just use as much as the size of a pea. And too much foam can make you lose track of where your teeth actually are located.

• You are not taking enough time. You need at least two minutes. Any less and you are missing spots.
• You are not paying attention. The toothbrush needs to touch every crevice of every tooth. It is the toothbrush friction that cleans your teeth, not the cleaning product. Plaque is a growth, like the pink or grey mildew that grows around the edges of your shower. You have to rub it off to get it off. No tooth cleaning liquid, paste, creme, gel, or powder is going to make as much of a difference as your attention to detail will.

You can use baking soda, or coconut oil, or your favorite toothpaste, or even just plain water. The key is to have a good technique and to brush often.