The Kind Life is a community around Alicia Silverstone and The Kind Diet where friends, doctors, experts in green living, and members share vegan tips.

Kind 101

Healthy Toothpaste

My most recent mission has been to find a better, cleaner toothpaste. Up until now, I’ve been using Tom’s Clean Mint and Jason’s Peppermint Powersmile, since they offer fluoride-free versions (you can read more about why fluoride isn’t so great in my my Facts About Flouride post). But after doing a little research about the other ingredients in these products, I realized that there’s another surprising additive that could actually be bad to your health. It’s called carrageenan or at times poligeenan (the more processed harmful version), and it’s extracted from edible seaweeds. It’s used a lot in the food industry since it has gelling, thickening, and stabilizing properties. In theory, it sounds pretty great—it’s plant-based and from seaweed no less! But it turns out that like many other “natural” or even healthy-sounding ingredients, once it’s processed in a lab, it loses its beneficial properties and can even become damaging.

According to research conducted by Joanne K. Tobacman, M.D., at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, food-grade carrageenan is associated with conditions ranging from stomach problems to cancer. Additionally, she found that exposure to this additive causes inflammation, and in turn that chronic inflammation opened the door for a host of other issues like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. In fact, carrageenan used to be used by researchers to cause inflammation so that they could test the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs. In 2012, Tobacman’s findings prompted her to address the National Organic Standards board on this issue and urge them to stop using carrageenan in organic foods. Though Tobacman found this, the scientific community is still in debate about some of these findings.

Carrageenan is found everywhere, from packaged nut milks to, yes, toothpaste. You might be thinking, I don’t eat any toothpaste when I brush my teeth so what’s the big deal? Well, your skin is an organ, and one of the most absorbent ones at that, which includes the skin in your mouth. Plus, I generally think it’s a good idea to avoid any processed additives that could potentially lead to health issues—especially when there’s so many better options out there.

Some healthier toothpastes I’ve been checking out are PerioPaste and Himalaya Neem & Pomegranate, and so far Himalaya is my favorite. Though I like to err on the side of caution and avoid carrageenan all together, Himalaya does contain it (thanks to all you kind lifers for acknowledging this!) Fortunately, Himalaya uses a native, minimally processed type of carrageenan and are in the midst of looking for suitable replacement thickeners (in hopes of doing away with the ‘red flag’ word in their ingredients).

Earthpaste is another one I plan to try. I also got some of Jack N’ Jill’s Natural Calendula Toothpaste for Bear. By the time I get to brush to his little teeth he usually snatches the toothbrush out of my hand and eats the toothpaste- fun and cute for him but not so effective! If you were feeling adventurous, you could whip up a batch of your own using equal parts coconut oil and baking soda with some yummy essential oils (like eucalyptus, peppermint, or grapefruit).

Have any of you tried Earthpaste? Do you like it? What other healthy toothpastes are you into? Has anyone tried making their own?

 

Photo Credit: Earthpaste, Himalaya, Periopaste, and Preserve

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  • Lauren

    I use Uncle Harry’s Natural Toothpaste. No fluoride, no carrageenan, just goodness :)

  • Lauren
  • Heather Hart

    I really love the Healthy Mouth Blend from OraWellness. It is a blend of essential oils in an almond oil base, everything is organic, and it makes my mouth feel so fresh and clean! Their secret is tiny brush strokes to get under the gum line and it really does make a huge difference. While the consistency of the “toothpaste” is not a paste at all and it takes a little getting used to at first, it is absolutely my favorite tooth cleaner now.

  • Krysten

    Thanks for the info! I have also been using Tom’s due to their product being fluoride free-I had no idea about Carrageenan, I will definitely have to pass this along!

  • Erin

    I make my own tooth powder using bentonite clay and baking soda. With some cloves and peppermint oil thrown in for flavor.

  • Lauren Maher

    I use Earthpaste and I really like it. The only downside is that I have to order it online as no stores near me carry it.

  • C. Blake

    you can brush your teeth with Dr. Bronner’s Soap

  • Alicia Webster

    I use Grants of Australia Cinnamon and Orange toothpaste with Neem Oil….http://www.grantsofaustralia.com.au/products/toothpaste/toothpaste-natural-cinnamon/

  • Tomás

    I honestly use Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Oil , the shower gel (not the soap bar). The label said that you could use it to brush your teeth and, even if skeptical at first, but always the “experimenter,” I tried it…and it’s not bad at all (no matter the comments of people saying that it tastes horrible. It doesn’t for me)!

  • Colliemom

    I love Tom’s. If it contains carageenan that is of no consequence since we do not swallow it.

  • Phyllis Ida Concordia

    Coconut Oil works well.

  • http://cyborland.wix.com/organic-vegan-eating Christina Borland

    I use sea salt (coarse or fine grind) or sometimes sea salt mixed with baking soda, works great! Got the tip from an Indian friend whose 80 year old grandmother had been using sea salt her whole life to brush her teeth and never had a cavity. I figured that was enough evidence for me! I wet the toothbrush with water first, dip it in a little sea salt or the mixture, and scrub away! My teeth feel smooth and clean after brushing, fresh breath and clean tongue. If you want a little flavor, add a few drops organic peppermint extract (food grade – kind you would use for baking) or other favorite flavor (licorice, vanilla, cinnamon).

    I have also used Dr. Bronner’s peppermint or unscented soap to brush my teeth, works well, but foams alot and has a strong taste.

  • Mandy

    I like to use baking soda, and oregano oil in a water flosser. I haven’t heard of any problems with those not being safe. So if anyone has any input, that would be great.
    I was also hoping you could do an article on dentists and what to avoid, such as fluoride. What about what they use to clean their teeth… I’ve taken my daughter to a holistic dentist but he really only does adults. I can’t find a children’s holistic dentist here in Denver.

  • Noëlle Vieau

    Sometimes I brush with coconut oil mixed with sea salt. I let the salt dissolve a bit so that it doesn’t scrape my enamel. Try it–your teeth with feel very clean.

  • L Bryant

    The earthpaste is awesome!!! Tastes good and cleans really well!

  • Archena Dave

    I do use crest with scope and always follow with 2 parts to one baking soda and salt – I also use this for my tongue. Never have my mouth stink and love the feeling of my teeth so sleek.

  • milissae

    This was one of the easiest switches for my family. We use the Himalayma and my kids use Jack N Jills. We love both. I will have to try the Earthpaste.

  • Michelle K.

    i use tom’s but will not any longer b/c of the carageenan. i also use jack n jill’s blueberry for the kids! it’s fabulous! there are great tips from everyone here! thanks!

  • Sandra Whitlock Dwan

    Love the earth paste!!!

  • http://www.kris-tea.com/ Kristina

    Thank you for this article! I am looking for a better toothpaste and this helps me a lot : )

  • Linda C Hughes

    Wow, that is so scary use Toms too, guess it is ok as long as we don’t swallow it, hope so!

  • Carolyn Emole

    Thank you! I’ve been using Toms….now I’ll make the switch and try these.

  • Nutmeg

    Hi Alicia. :) I actually really love THIS toothpaste – their blends are ayurvedic. http://www.auromere.com/Dental_Care-Toothpaste.html

  • http://www.shortgirllongisland.com michelle with one l

    Have you tried Lush’s Toothy Tabs? They’re vegan + the company doesn’t animal test.

  • Shannon

    I’ve been making my own for almost a year now. Baking soda, coconut oil, and peppermint oil. I guess if I had kids, I’d probably have to sweeten it with a bit of xylitol or something. But I’ve gotten used to the taste and really like it as is!

    • tigger2767

      I do a similar. I brush with a very small amount of baking soda on my ionic toothbrush (the brush removes plaque all by itself) daily. Every other day or so, I pull coconut oil for 10-15 minutes while doing something not too athletic, then lightly brush with baking soda. I also rinse with H2O2 if I get any nicks or cuts or undetected slivers of food in the gums. It cleans up the wound so it will heal faster.
      I may try your method, seems you would have that cool mint breeze breath with the addition of peppermint.

    • Brandy Hawley

      I’m interested in trying to make my own. What is the ratio of the ingredients? And do you pre-make ahead of time. Any tips for storage, shelf life, etc? TIA!

      • Shannon

        I don’t ever measure but I use roughly equal parts coconut oil and baking soda, and mix it up into a thin paste. It firms up a bit afterwards but stirring coconut oil warms it up so that it approaches a more liquid form. Then I just add however many drops of peppermint oil I feel like. It still tastes mostly like salty oil, rather than mint, when I’m brushing. But it does leave a refreshing tingle in my mouth after I’m done. I mix up a small container, enough for a few weeks at a time. When it’s time to brush my teeth, I rinse my toothbrush well and then dip it into the paste.

  • Me

    I know this post is about toothpaste but instead of picturing a plastic toothbrush you should show something a little more eco-friendly like those from Brush with Bamboo.

    • jillianzed

      That toothbrush is SUPER eco-friendly in that its made from recycled yogurt cups. The company is called Preserve and their products are really great! :)

  • http://hauteangel.com/ HauteAngel

    What about the toothpaste from The Honest Company?

  • Laura

    I just tried the Earthpaste and I don’t like it at all. And it contains lead so I don’t want to use it anyway. I tried the unsweetened spearmint! Ugh! I have been using Jason Seafresh but now I need to try something better, especially since I have been using it for about 3 years and I now have inflammation in my joints that I never had before:( I am going to try the Himalaya Neem & Pomegranate. I hope I like that better!!

  • Michelle K.

    just bought the earthpaste, but read on the back that it has trace amounts of lead. i was so dissapointed to learn this.

  • Michelle K.

    that being said cinnamon earthpaste tastes pretty good

  • Meaghan S

    Arbonne toothpaste for the win!

  • TheKindLife

    Thanks for pointing this out Jennifer! We recently updated the post to address this.

  • TheKindLife

    Thanks for the note Dulce! We recently updated the post to address the carrageenan in Himalaya.

  • TheKindLife

    Hi Laura,
    We just updated the post to address this.

    Hope it helps!

    Thanks

  • Laura

    Thanks for updating about the Himalaya toothpaste. I think I might give it a try!

  • austin
  • Jenny

    We divide our brushings between Weleda (calendula for adults/myself, and peppermint-free for my daughter) and also bakingsoda for a great whitening shine. We go back and forth to get the best clean. I stay away from anything with Sodium Laureth Sulfate – if it isn’t good to put on my skin, it’s not going in my mouth, and at least in Canada, it’s the first ingredient in Tom’s, so I stopped using that.

  • Michelle Orton

    I have been using the Honest brand toothpaste for a couple years now. I use mint while my 4 year old daughter uses strawberry. We love it.

  • Joyryde

    This is probably the #1 best (healthiest) option for everyone…

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/04/25/coconut-oil-toothpaste.aspx

    Or Earthpaste if you’re lazy!

    http://amzn.to/1N8GIkW

  • Reese Daniel

    They are putting much nastier things in your toothpaste than carrageenan. Aside from polyethelyne glycol (PEG) which will strip the grease from an automobile, these psychofreaks that mass produce toothpaste like Aquafresh, Colgate, Crest , etc used the emulsified fat of euthanized (with dangerous drugs) veterinary animals AND road kill picked up by the State. It’s free $$$ for these beasts to profit off us. I’ve always been disgusted by mass produced toothpaste since I was a child without knowing why. I just instinctively felt disgusted by it. As an adult I began to use Weleda baking soda toothpaste without fluoride and sometimes I just used Red’s aluminum free baking soda. These psychopathic inhuman monsters who lead us and control all our food and medicine and cosmetic products put POISION and DISGUSTING THINGS in nearly EVERY SINGLE THING THEY produce. The foods are pastueruzed and dead (kills off the good bacteria that we need to stay healthy) and they keep us sick and having to come to THEM for chemical drugs that FEED the parasites we get from the inbalanced gut flora. It’s a HUGE MAFIA RACKET for these BEASTS (they are NOT human, I promise you, they only look human on the outside, we are two different species on this planet and TPTB DO NOT WANT ANYONE TO KNOW THIS. This is the most guarded secret of these liars and deceivers. Yes some of their pawns are human who have just gone over to the dark side but the PSYCHOPATHS and SOCIOPATHS at the top are NOT HUMAN. The Bible calls them “Tares”. They also put ABORTED FETAL ORGANS IN OUR FOOD! They call it Synomex and falsely claim that it is only a “natural flavoring derived from the cells of the aborted babies” but it is MUCH MUCH WORSE THAN THEY WILL TELL YOU@! Planned Parenthood (totally EVIL) aborts late term babies ALIVE and keeps them ALIVE until the organs are ready to be harvested for our “food” and then they EXTRACT THE ORGANS WITH A SCALPEL FROM THE LIVE BABY WITHOUT ANY PAIN RELIEF! THE BABY IS TORTURED which produces certain adrenal acids in the body which these MONSTERS CLAIM IS A FLAVOR ENHANCER! EVIL. BASTARDS! Now we know why the Bible talks of a HELL that is a lake of eternal fire! Only these kinds of inhuman monsters could conceive of such wickedness. Nestle, witchKRAFT, Nabisco, Cadbury, Frito Lay Pepsi, Little Debbie, Rice A Roni, Taco Bell, KFC and many other corporate food companies use this ABOMINATION IN THEIR PRODUCTS! ALL “APPROVED” BY YOUR CRIMINAL SCUM BAGS AT THE FDA! (Boy aren’t they “protecting” you well!!!) So they are turning us into CANNIBALS WITHOUT OUR CONSENT! (Also an abomination to the God they HATE!) I have boycotted every last one of them and written to most of them to let them know of their PURE EVIL and you should too. Campbell Soup backed out of using Synomex after getting a huge outpouring from enraged customers. Needless to say, carrageenan in toothpaste and other products is the least of our worries. That’s child’s play for these monsters. They have long since moved on to “other things” with regard to feeding the goyim (Hebrew word for human cattle as they refer to us secretly).