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Find out the 7 toothpaste ingredients you should avoid

It’s hard to believe that a product we use everyday (hopefully twice a day as recommended) can cause harm to our overall health. Shockingly, some toothpaste brands out there contain harmful ingredients that we should avoid. To make things easier for you, we’ve put together a list of 7 ingredients you should avoid in your next toothpaste shop.

1. Fluoride

Most individuals might already know that too much fluoride can cause fluorosis (discoloured spots on teeth). However, it can also cause a number of serious adverse health effects, including neurological and endocrine dysfunction(3)(7).

In 2012, researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and China Medical University found a strong connection that fluoride may negatively affect cognitive development in children(3). There is still much we do not know about the effects of fluoride, and we should be cautious about adding it to our diets.

Moreover, in a 2006 study by the US National Research Council of the National Academies they found evidence that fluoride affects normal endocrine function(7). The endocrine is a system of glands that help control many functions within the body by releasing hormones. Such functions help determine how your heart beats, and how your bones develop and grow, to name a few.

So next time, check the back of your toothpaste and make sure it is fluoride-free!

2. Triclosan

Triclosan is an ingredient that can be found in toothpaste, body wash, antibacterial soaps and cosmetics.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a study conducted found a decrease in some thyroid hormones(4). However, there is no significant data yet on the effects in humans in relation to the study.

Thyroid hormones help control your metabolism and keep it regulated. A decrease in such hormones could result in a slow metabolism.

There are also several studies investigating the link between triclosan and antibiotic resistance and developing skin cancer. Troubling, these studies have not yet been completed to determine an outcome(4).

With such uncertainty evolving around triclosan, it might be best to avoid this ingredient in your toothpaste.

3. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate can cause skin irritation(2) and can aggravate aphthous ulcers(1).

In a preliminary study by the Department of Oral Surgery and Oral Medicine patients using a paste containing SLS over a 3-month period, patients had significantly more ulcers after the trial(1). Alternatively, when the patients switched to a SLS free paste, the number of ulcers reduced drastically(1).

Applying SLS to your gums in the form of toothpaste could therefore result in irritation. And for those suffering with mouth ulcers, this could worsen the symptoms further. For this reason, it might be best to avoid SLS in toothpaste.

4. Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol is used to improve a products shelf life, appearance and texture. In large quantities, propylene glycol has been linked to damage of the central nervous system, liver and heart(11)(12).

For individuals who have kidney or liver disease, these effects can be more severe as the breakdown process might not be as simple.

Propylene glycol can be found in items we use daily, such as cosmetics, flavourings, and prescription drugs. It might be wise to avoid overconsumption by ensuring this ingredient is not in our everyday toothpaste routine.

5. Artificial Sweeteners

There are currently inconsistent and contrary studies on the effects of artificial sweeteners (e.g. saccharin and aspartame) on the body.

Saccharin, in the past, has been linked to bladder cancer, brain tumours and lymphoma. However, to date, there is no conclusive evidence to support these claims.

Aspartame on the other hand, has been found to affect gut bacteria and increase blood glucose which has been linked to insulin resistance(9).

As research is currently ongoing, it is best to switch to natural sugar replacements like honey and stevia leaves.

6. Diethanolamine (DEA)

Diethanolamine (DEA) is a product that can be found in antifreeze and brake fluid. In a 1998 study, the topical application of DEA has been linked to cancer in animals(5).

In the same study, it was found that DEA induced hepatic choline deficiency (deficiency of the liver)(8).

This is an ingredient that should not be found in your toothpaste, or any consumer product for that matter.

7. Parabens

Parabens are used to preserve the shelf life of a range of cosmetics, including toothpaste.

Parabens can disrupt hormone function by mimicking the hormone estrogen. In some cases, parabens may lead to breast cancer(10). Some sites also claim that parabens are linked to developmental and reproductive issues, however this has yet to be confirmed.

The Food and Drug Administration is still evaluating the safety of parabens due to the limited information on the topic(6).

With such limited information on the safety of this ingredient, it would be sensible to steer clear of it in toothpaste.


If you’re looking for natural ways to clean your teeth, read our blog here.


[1] BB, H. and P, B. (2018). Sodium lauryl sulfate and recurrent aphthous ulcers. A preliminary study. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Aug. 2018].

[2] (2018). Toothpaste (sodium lauryl sulfate) and cancer – Cancer Council Western Australia. [online] Cancer Council Western Australia. Available at: [Accessed 27 Aug. 2018].

[3] Dwyer, M. (2018). Impact of fluoride on neurological development in children. [online] News. Available at: [Accessed 27 Aug. 2018].

[4] (2018). 5 Things to Know About Triclosan. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Aug. 2018].

[5] (2018). Diethanolamine. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Aug. 2018].

[6] (2018). Parabens in Cosmetics. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Aug. 2018].

[7] (2018). Fluoride Action Network | Endocrine System. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Aug. 2018].

[8] Lehman-McKeeman LD, e. (2018). Diethanolamine induces hepatic choline deficiency in mice. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Aug. 2018].

[9] Palmnäs, M., Cowan, T., Bomhof, M., Su, J., Reimer, R. and Vogel, H. (2018). Low-dose aspartame consumption differentially affects gut microbiota-host metabolic interactions in the diet-induced obese rat. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Aug. 2018].

[10] (2017). Disconnecting the Estrogen Receptor Binding Properties and Antimicrobial Properties of Parabens through 3,5-Substitution. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Aug. 2018].

[11] Terri Y. Lim, N. (2018). Propylene Glycol Toxicity in Children. [online] PubMed Central (PMC). Available at: [Accessed 28 Aug. 2018].

[12] Zar T, e. (2018). Recognition, treatment, and prevention of propylene glycol toxicity. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Aug. 2018].

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