The 10 Best Organic Toothpastes
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in May of 2016. If you'd like to avoid sticking artificial preservatives, flavorings, and colorings in your mouth on a daily basis, then you'll probably appreciate our collection of organic toothpastes. These carefully selected oral cleansers are sure to leave your teeth and gums feeling healthy and fresh — no dubious chemicals necessary. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best organic toothpaste on Amazon.
A Brief History Of Toothpaste
Toothpaste underwent many changes and improvements throughout the 20th century.
Despite the convenience of a cream, tooth powder remained the more popular choice until after World War I.
Toothpaste's history dates at least as far back as Ancient Egypt, well before the toothbrush as we know it came into existence. Around 5000 B.C.E., Egyptians used a powder made of the ashes of ox hooves, burnt eggshells, pumice, and myrrh to clean their teeth. If that sounds less than appetizing, the Ancient Greeks added abrasives like crushed oyster shells and bones to the recipe. The Romans included flavorings like powdered charcoal and bark. Delicious!
Various iterations of tooth powders like those used by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans have been found around the world in places like China, India, and the Middle East, dating back over 2,000 years. In some cultures, it was likely rubbed onto the teeth directly, where others mixed it with water to create more of a paste. Others applied it with rags or the frayed ends of twigs, called chewing sticks. The Chinese added flavorings like ginseng, mint, and salt to their mixtures in an attempt to improve the taste and, most likely, freshen the breath of their users.
This remained the extent of oral hygiene in most parts of the world until the latter half of the first millennium, when the Chinese invented the first real toothbrush, using boar hairs as bristles attached to the end of a length of bamboo or animal bone. Still, few advancements were made in the toothpaste arena until the 1800s. In the meantime, the existing powders, with a variety of variations, made their way westward, through Europe, and eventually to the Americas.
In the 1800s in Britain and the United States, the dental trade evolved into a profession. While dentistry wasn't regulated in the UK until 1878, its practitioners began adapting tooth powder recipes for increased efficacy at the turn of the 20th century. First, a Dr. Peabody added soap to the mix, which made cleaning more effective, though it probably didn't do much to make it more palatable. Chalk was another popular addition, as was cinnamon, the ashes of burnt bread, a plant-based resin called dragon's blood, and burnt alum salts.
By 1900, dentists recommended using a paste made of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide with toothbrushes. Colgate released their first tubes of dental cream, inspired by painter's tubes, in 1896. They had previously been packaging it in jars. Despite the convenience of a cream, tooth powder remained the more popular choice until after World War I.
Toothpaste underwent many changes and improvements throughout the 20th century. Though some dentists recommended the addition of fluoride as early as the 1890s, it was initially criticized by the American Dental Association, and didn't receive their approval until the 1950s. In the 1980s, gels, whitening agents, and other ingredients were added, and the specialty toothpaste market grew rapidly. Blends created for children and those with sensitive teeth, for example, are still popular today.
Why Use Organic Toothpaste
These days, it can be hard to parse the list of ingredients on a commercial tube of toothpaste. They tend to be filled with things that are unfamiliar and hard to pronounce, some of which may be harmful if swallowed. Spurred on by the general movement toward more natural ingredients, many people are turning to organic toothpastes in order to escape the chemicals and synthetic ingredients found in conventional blends.
As a matter of fact, in 1997 the FDA began requiring toothpaste manufacturers to include a poison warning on all tubes containing fluoride.
If you don't believe there are ingredients in your toothpaste that might actually be harmful to you, I'd recommend you go get your tube before you continue reading. A few of the most common harmful ingredients in toothpaste include triclosan, a preservative and antibacterial agent that can irritate your skin and cause allergic reactions, and sorbitol, which can cause diarrhea if swallowed.
Another ingredient you may want to avoid is sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS, which is used as a foaming agent and can be found in most commercial toothpastes. It's also commonly found in shampoos and detergents, but it is known to be a skin and eye irritant, and some studies have found it to be carcinogenic.
The dyes in toothpaste can also be harmful, especially for children. Even fluoride, the chemical that is added to virtually all toothpaste and even municipal water supplies, is poisonous. As a matter of fact, in 1997 the FDA began requiring toothpaste manufacturers to include a poison warning on all tubes containing fluoride. A single tube of children's toothpaste contains enough of it to kill a small child, if ingested. Each year about 25,000 people report to poison control centers in the United States as a result of excessive fluoride ingestion. If that's not enough to get you to consider using a toothpaste without it, I'm not sure what is.
Organic toothpastes eschew all of these harmful additives in favor of natural substitutes. Baking soda is a common ingredient, as is sea salt. Tea tree, peppermint, coconut, and neem oils are also popular. While toothpaste has come a long way since its Ancient Egyptian roots, it might still be a good idea to use one with ingredients that existed back then.
What Does Toothpaste Actually Do?
While it's completely expected that we use toothpaste every day when we brush our teeth (at least twice!), it's not often we stop to think about its particular purpose. Surely, the brush itself is doing most of the work, right?
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that grows on your teeth and can lead to cavities, gum disease, and even tooth loss if it is not dealt with on a regular basis.
The truth is, dry brushing can get you a part of the way to keeping your teeth healthy, but it falls short of completing the job. The physical action of brushing does help dislodge food particles trapped between and around your teeth, but without the toothpaste, most plaque will stay put. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that grows on your teeth and can lead to cavities, gum disease, and even tooth loss if it is not dealt with on a regular basis.
Many toothpastes are also fortified with ingredients that help strengthen your teeth and make them less susceptible to cavities and decay. They also help keep your breath fresh, which you might not notice, but the people you interact with every day surely do.
Of course, brushing with toothpaste isn't enough on its own either. Most dentists recommend flossing every day to keep the spaces between your teeth clear of plaque, as well.
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