Making the decision to switch to natural toothpaste is an obvious one when you're trying to follow a sustainable personal care routine. Simply spotting the word "natural" on a toothpaste tube doesn't tell you much, however. You might be left wondering—what is toothpaste is made of? And how does it keep your mouth healthy?
What Is Toothpaste Made Of?
As the American Dental Association (ADA) explains, all toothpastes are typically composed of active and inactive ingredients. What differs between natural and conventional toothpastes are the ingredients used, as well as how they are sourced and processed. Natural toothpaste ingredients are naturally sourced and derived, whereas ingredients found in conventional toothpastes may not be.
4 Effective Natural Toothpaste Ingredients
Natural toothpaste ingredients can do various things, such as prevent cavities, fight germs, whiten teeth, and freshen your breath. Here are some of the ingredients commonly found in natural toothpaste and how they help your oral health.
Fluoride is an example of an active ingredient found in both conventional and natural toothpastes. All toothpastes carrying the ADA Seal of Acceptance must contain fluoride, even natural toothpaste. However, how that fluoride is sourced and derived can differ.
Fluoride is naturally occurring and can be found in many places on Earth, from the ocean to the bones in our own bodies. In nature, fluoride exists only in compound forms, such as the ore fluorspar (calcium fluoride) in soil and rock. Sodium fluoride and sodium monofluorophosphate—two of three types of fluoride recognized by the Food and Drug Administration to help prevent dental cavities—are derived from natural sources, such as fluorspar and phosphoric rock.
2. Hydrated Silica
Silica is the second-most abundant mineral in the Earth's crust, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. It's naturally crystalline; sand and obsidian are common forms. Hydrated silica comes from silicon dioxide. To create hydrated silica, the silica crystals are heated and dissolved in water to form liquid sodium silicate. The liquid is then mixed with acid and precipitated, resulting in a fine, white powder, or granules.
As RDH Magazine explains, hydrated silica acts as an abrasive to help remove plaque and other particles from your teeth when brushing with toothpaste. In addition to aiding with the removal of plaque and food particles, abrasives like hydrated silica can also help to remove stains—which makes them potentially useful for whitening.
Inulin is a prebiotic and soluble fiber that occurs naturally in many plants, such as agave and chicory root. The naturally occurring inulin can be extracted from the plant using hot water. Once extracted, it undergoes further purification, and then it is spray-dried to create a powder.
Prebiotics like inulin are nutrients that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria. When used as an ingredient in natural toothpaste, inulin feeds the good bacteria that already exists in your mouth. This, in turn, crowds out the odor-causing bad bacteria and helps to maintain the balance of your mouth's natural microbiome.
4. Zinc Citrate
Zinc is an essential element found in air, water, and all living organisms. Zinc citrate is a zinc salt derived from citric acid. Once collected, this mixture is precipitated, dehydrated, and milled.
As an ingredient in natural toothpaste, zinc citrate helps to freshen your breath. Bacteria in your mouth can create volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), which lead to bad breath. The zinc reacts with the compounds and reduces the odor components, leaving your mouth feeling fresh.
The Benefits of Choosing Natural Toothpaste
Whether you're looking for a toothpaste that gently whitens teeth or one that fights cavities, there are many benefits to choosing a natural toothpaste. You can feel confident knowing that your toothpaste is an effective part of your oral care routine. In addition to helping maintain a healthy mouth, you can also feel good that your purchase supports your focus on making eco-friendly choices.
What to Look for in Natural Toothpaste
You should not only consider the question, "What is toothpaste made of?"—you should also consider what is it not made of. In addition to using naturally sourced and derived ingredients, you can find natural toothpastes that are also free from artificial flavors, fragrances, colors, sweeteners, and preservatives.
Every ingredient in toothpaste has a purpose. When you learn what your natural toothpaste is made of, you can be confident that you're protecting your mouth without sacrificing your natural lifestyle.
Learn more about the ingredients that go into natural products on the Ingredients from Nature board from @tomsofmaine on Pinterest!
Image Sources: Sher Warkentin | Sher Warkentin | Unsplash
The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.
Why It's Good
Choosing a natural toothpaste doesn't mean sacrificing your oral care in order to live a sustainable lifestyle. Toothpaste made with naturally derived and sourced ingredients can help to fight cavities, whiten teeth, and banish bad breath.