Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pretty, Pearly Whites

I have a confession to children have never been to a dentist.

At ages 4 and 2 respectively, this may not seem like a huge deal but it is certainly time to get them checked out. And those little teeth could use a good cleaning too, since trying to get my kids to brush their teeth is like...well....pulling teeth.

But there are a couple of reasons I've been putting off the whole dentist thing.

a) Even though my city boasts a FANTASTIC pediatric dentist who has been recommended by nearly every Mom I meet, I'm not exactly ready for a public tantrum in place where there are sharp objects present.

b)My daughter is a thumb sucker and has been since she was a month old. Her teeth show it. I'm nervous about being lectured for continuing to let her suck her thumb (like I can stop her) and my heart may just stop if they give me an orthodontic estimate. I KNOW she'll need braces. I'm just still in denial about it.

c) I'm afraid my kids will have cavities and/or super plaque build up. My kids don't eat a ton of sugar but as I mentioned, teeth brushing is NOT a favorite activity in my house. I fight many battles during the day and sometimes, I just don't want to hold down a squirming kid and scrub those pearly whites. So I don't. Judge all you want. After you've been bitten a few times, you tend to ease back on the forced brushings.

d) I don't use fluoride and I'm not going to. I feel very strongly about this and I don't want to be given that "you're screwing up your kids teeth" look because I won't use the bright colored, super sweet, sparkly toothpaste.

Toothpaste was one of the first personal care items to "go green" in our house. I'd been reading about the dangers of fluoride for some time, but when I dug a little deeper, I realized that fluoride was just one of many nasties I was scrubbing all over my mouth, and my children's, twice a day. Some common toothpaste ingredients include:

  • Fluoride-Before being sold under the guise of healthy teeth maker, it was used as a rat poison. It was also a popular insecticide, but discontinued as it was found to injure and kill plants. Granted, we use much less fluoride in common toothpastes now, but it's questionable past is enough for me to want it out of my house. My mother and sister in laws are allergic to fluoride and I've seen similar symptoms in my daughter when I use fluorided toothpastes on her.

  • SLS- I've talked about sodium laurel sulfates before. It's hard to escape. SLS is what makes things foam and is found in shampoos, conditioners, lotions and toothpastes. SLS is an irritant which isn't all that great for your gums and it enhances your mouth's ability to absorb other products into your bloodstream. 

  • Saccharin-Remember when the FDA tried to ban saccharin in the 1970's because numerous studies found it to be carcinogenic and cause cancer in lab animals? Yup. They put it in toothpaste. It's what give it a sweet taste. And thanks to the SLS, you are better equipped to absorb it into your body!

  • Synthetic Dyes and Flavors-When I was a kid, I brushed my teeth with bright blue toothpaste that tasted like bubblegum. Sometimes, it had sparkles. But man made colors and flavors are made with chemicals, and are quite often derived from coal tar. COAL TAR! GROSS!
Lucky for me, I'm not the only one concerned about my toothpaste. There are several brands of "natural" toothpastes that work great and will put your mind at ease. We are a Tom's of Maine family. Tom's has both fluoride and fluoride free formulas and their kids toothpastes come in lots of natural flavors. My daughter has declared cinnamon and mint toothpastes "too spicy" so our favorite is Silly Strawberry. They don't use artificial sweeteners like saccharin and have great botanical ingredients like fennel and myrrh. Tom's toothpastes DO CONTAIN SLS. Eventually I would like to step away from all products containing SLS but for now, I just like a foamy a toothpaste. Baby steps people, baby steps....


  1. Hey, I have good news for you... Tom's DOES make a SLS-free toothpaste! I've been using it for a few months now. I'm not sure if they do more than one kind, but take a look here to start:

  2. Hey there - growing up, my Mom had a small plate in our bathroom that was refilled with a bit of baking soda each morning. We'd wet our toothbrush, dip it in the baking soda, and brush our teeth. Simple!