With the rise of 'clean' skincare and haircare, we’re more conscious than ever about what we keep in our bathroom cabinets. But, what about what we put in our mouths? More and more of us are now looking to explore natural oral care, from toothy tabs to charcoal-infused toothpaste – and luckily it’s never been easier to try out a chemical-free clean.
So, what is natural toothpaste?
Dr Theo Sioutis, dental director at MyHealthcare Clinic, a doctor-led private healthcare business with clinics across London, explains that natural toothpastes are pretty much what they say on the tin.
"Natural toothpastes are made from natural ingredients, the most common being sodium bicarbonate and clay, but anything that has a scrubbing or plaque removing effect on the teeth could be used," he begins. "In modern toothpastes, people want something with a better taste and something that appeals from a marketing point of view, not just from a functional point of view."
Over time, Dr Sioutis adds, people have taken clays and sodium bicarbonate and started adding things like glycerin to make it into a paste, and added other elements to change the colour and the taste. "That said, natural toothpastes don’t have some ingredients that can be very helpful to teeth, like fluoride or enamel repairing ingredients."
Will natural toothpaste really clean my teeth?
"What we want is for patients to use toothpaste which will have something to help them remove plaque from the teeth to help keep them safe and healthy," explains Dr Sioutis. "Whether they use natural or chemical ingredients, it’s exactly the same thing from a dentist's perspective.
"Toothpaste alone will not clean the teeth but will assist in the removal of plaque from the teeth. You can also find natural toothpastes containing charcoal."
What should I look out for in natural toothpaste?
Dr Theo Sioutis, explains that fluoride, from his perspective, is still a must as it protects against decay, any enamel repairing substances and – depending on your social or dietary habits, like smoking or drinking a lot of tea and coffee – acts as a sort of whitening agent. "Whitening agents are normally acids and in non-natural forms, we normally use carbamide or hydrogen peroxide which is in a stable form and is broken down naturally into oxygen and water," he notes.
"A substance that could be found in nature is strawberries. Acids from the white heart of the strawberry could be used as a whitening agent but making it at home is very difficult and not advised. However, the consumption of strawberries will help." The more you know, eh?
However, for those looking to avoid fluoride due to concerns overconsumption (although this mostly occurs through water infused with fluoride rather than dental hygiene products), which can in rare cases lead to fluorosis. According to the NHS, mild dental fluorosis can lead to minor cosmetic imperfections, such as white spots on the teeth, and research between fluoride intake and cancers "have so far found no convincing evidence to support these concerns".
Ready to try out an all-natural toothpaste yourself? Here are our top picks (including a couple of fluoride-free options too):
Georganics makes natural toothpaste in paste, powder and tablet form. They use organic ingredients and have collections that feature peppermint oil, activated charcoal, eucalyptus, orange and spearmint. All of their packaging is recyclable, making them kind to the planet and your teeth.
The activated charcoal toothpaste from Pro Teeth Whitening Co. is designed to whiten your teeth using natural ingredients. The charcoal is very finely ground to ensure that no damage is done to your teeth enamel, making it a perfect whitening option for those with sensitive teeth.
The Jason Powersmile Toothpaste doesn’t use any sulphates, artificial preservatives or artificial colours. Instead, it’s packed with peppermint oil to freshen breath and kill harmful bacteria. Plus, it’s flavoured with grapes!
Lush’s Toothy Tabs were the OG natural toothpaste for many of us, and they’re still going strong today. These solid toothpaste tablets are easy to use and ideal for travelling, just chew then brush with a damp toothbrush, and finally rinse. Flavoured with spearmint, their ingredients list only uses 12 products.
Kingfisher makes natural toothpaste without using artificial colourings, flavourings or preservatives, and instead uses natural ingredients like fennel, strawberries and peppermint. They’re all in a traditional toothpaste squeezy tube, so can be a good choice for someone who doesn’t like the idea of using toothpaste from a jar or the mess of powdered toothpaste. And for those looking for a fluoride-free toothpaste option...
Another great option from Kingfisher, only without fluoride for those who are looking to avoid it.
Green People’s Fennel and Propolis Toothpaste is designed for people with sensitive teeth and gums. Its ingredients include organic fennel, cloves and cinnamon, as well as propolis. It’s 100% natural and uses 86% organic ingredients. It’s easy to use, as it comes in a traditional squeezy toothpaste tube.
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