What’s in Your Kids’ Toothpaste

Recently, I stayed over at a friends’ house. And, in the morning while I was brushing my teeth with my “all natural” toothpaste, I picked up a tube of one of their kids’ “sparkle fun” toothpaste to check out the ingredient list. I did not like what I saw.

I’m sure most of you know that there are loads of chemicals in our bodies and personal care products – and that there are loads of chemicals we should be avoiding. A group you may have heard of, Environmental Working Group, and their amazing cosmetic database site, Skin Deep, “created a core, integrated database of chemical hazards, regulatory status, and study availability by pooling the data of nearly 60 databases and sources from government agencies, industry panels, academic institutions, or other credible bodies. Collectively, these data sources detail more than 1,535 unique chemical classifications. EWG uses these databases to assess potential health hazards and data gaps for cosmetic ingredients.”

Anytime I’m in doubt about a product I check out its score on the Skin Deep site.

As a medical care provider, I am constantly encouraging my patients to go “clean” with their bodies and personal care products. Even though most all of them eat organic (when necessary) and avoid processed foods, they still use chemically laden products – and, they use them on their children.

What I think is the problem is that most of us don’t realize that the skin is the biggest organ and that putting products on your skin or scalp can actually be worse than ingesting them. You see, when you eat something the digestive enzymes in your saliva and the acid in your stomach break down this food, digest it and excrete it (not to say some of the chemical residues don’t get left behind, but that’s a much longer article than we have time for here). However, when you put these harsh chemicals on your skin, they get absorbed straight into the bloodstream and can directly affect your organs. When this happens, these chemicals accumulate over time and can harm your health.

What’s even more frustrating is that there are thousands of chemicals used in personal care and beauty products that the government does not require the testing of. And, the ones that are tested are done so in short term studies, not in longitudinal studies (over a long period of time, say 2-5 years) to see how these chemicals affect us in the long run.

Okay, back to the “sparkle fun” toothpaste. When I got home and looked it up on Skin Deep, I was shocked to find that it ranked at a “moderate hazard” on their website (I typically recommend avoiding any product that is not a “low hazard”) and it contained ingredients that were considered quite hazardous. One in particular, sodium fluoride, has been scientifically linked to: “Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Multiple additive exposure sources, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Occupational hazards, Use restrictions.”

Probably not something we want our children to be having.

And, much to my dismay, I even found that my “all natural” toothpaste contained a toxic chemical called sodium laurel sulfate. So I have since switched to a chemical free tooth powder (that ranks a zero hazard on the Skin Deep site).

Now that I’ve given you all of this worry-inducing information, what can we do to choose better products? First off, I would start looking for products that are free of parabens, sulfates, aluminum and toluene – as these four are hands down the most toxic. Next, I would become friendly with the Skin Deep site and check out the hazard score of the products that you commonly use for you and your family.

My personal mantra (and I understand this may be a bit extreme for you) is: if I can’t eat it, I’m not putting it on my skin.

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Aimee E. Raupp is a women’s health and fertility expert, author, and founder of the Aimee Raupp Wellness & Fertility Center. Her focus is improving health and beauty, preventing disease, and increasing fertility among women whose health and wellness are challenged by the demands of Western culture. Aimee launched her new fertility-friendly beauty product line in Winter 2013. Find Aimee on Facebook and Twitter @aimeeraupp.

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