Be a Smart Mouth
How to Safely Maximize Oral Health

It’s time we had a serious discussion about your mouth and what you’re doing to it to promote its health. Are you harming you body without even realizing it? Chances are, you are. While many of us are fanatical about brushing and flossing, if you’re using a toxin-packed toothpaste and an alcohol-soaked mouthwash, you may be doing more harm than good. Here are a few thoughts on how to keep your mouth healthy without harming the rest of your body, what to look for and what to steer clear of:

Toothpaste is like brushing with flavored detergent.
Toothpaste. Come to think of it, you might be better off waxing the floors with it! If you take a moment to consider the ingredients commonly found in the average tube, it’s hard to ignore that toothpaste ingredients – and what they do to the body — are extremely alarming. In fact many of the chemicals found in toothpaste have been linked to skin disorders, rashes, sores, hormonal changes and even breast cancer. Among the top ingredients to avoid due to their carcinogenic and/or endocrine disruptive effects: titanium dioxide; parabens, proplybaraben, methylparaben; toxic-to-humans triclosan and sodium lauryl sulfate, also known as SLS or sulfate. Other ingredients to avoid: dioxane, blue dye 1 and 2, propylene glycol, sodium fluoride and hydroxide, hydrogen peroxide and sodium monofluorophosphate. And while some may scoff and think, “Well, it’s not like I’m eating the stuff,” the fact of the matter is, in effect, you are by delivering multiple doses of toxins directly into your body every time you brush. Though it might not seem like much, the cumulative effects can be health destroying, so I say, why take the risk?

Put on your HAZ-MAT suit and brush.
Here’s a better idea: switch to a toothpaste that’s lower on the biohazard scale. According to the consumer safety advocates and all-around smart scientists over Skin Deep, the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetics safety arm, among the best toothpastes are Cleure, Tom’s of Maine Natural Antiplaque Toothpaste and Arganat All Natural Clay Toothpaste. Although they are not completely chemical-free, they score highest in terms of safety, meaning they contain the fewest hazardous ingredients. Another interesting health-oriented brand is Retivin, which is infused with antioxidants, including CO-Enzyme Q10, Selenium, Vitamins C and E plus several homeopathic tissue salts to help balance the ecology of the mouth.

Don’t be “Listerine clean.”
Now I am all for a clean mouth – as a healthy mouth is essential to reducing inflammation and sustaining good health throughout your body – but for those of you who were raised on the notion of “Listerine clean,” it’s time to let it go. As in stop putting that stuff anywhere near your mouth. Why? Well, aside from the foul taste, Listerine, along with most other mouthwashes, is loaded with alcohol. The alcohol dries out the mouth and all that drying action has been linked to increased risk for oral cancer.

Rinse, don’t wash.
For the millions of mouthwash addicts out there, kicking the mouthwash habit can be a challenge. They say their mouths just don’t feel as clean unless they’ve finished with mouthwash – likening it to the icing on their dental care cake. Problem is, most mouthwashes can do more harm than good –they’re more marketing vehicle than an absolute mouth-health must have. My advice? Save your money, reduce your thrice-daily exposure to toxins (as well as those plastic containers) and just brush, floss and tongue-scrape after every meal to maintain mouth health.

I can’t quit ya’.
Not ready to kick the bottle just yet? Then switch to a less harmful brew or take it a step further, make your own and store it in glass. Lose the industrial mouth detergent cocktails and switch to gentler, alcohol-free washes like Miessence Certified Organic Freshening Mouthwash, Beauty with a Cause Mouthwash or Tom’s of Main Peppermint Mouthwash, all of which receive high marks from the Environmental Working Group. If you’re more of a do-it-yourself type, then brew up a few shots of your own mouthwash by combining 8 oz water (preferably filtered or spring, without fluoride) with heaping teaspoon of baking soda plus 4 -6 drops of organic peppermint oil. Swish, spit and enjoy!