The average hygiene-conscious American uses about 8-10 cups of toothpaste in a year. But we don’t swallow toothpaste, so does it really matter? Because of the absorbency of the mucosal membranes lining the mouth, the answer is a resounding yes. Most commercial toothpaste brands include fluoride in their ingredients. But do the health risks of fluoride outweigh the potential benefits?
How Our Mouths Absorb Chemicals
The lining of our mouths absorb of drugs and other chemicals quickly. Substances entering the mouth diffuse through mucous membranes beneath the tongue. Because this area has a vast amount of capillaries, it is a fairly direct route into your bloodstream. This direct absorption also bypasses the harsh conditions of the digestive system. This is why taking medicines sublingually often produces faster results than oral ingestion.
So even though we do not swallow toothpaste, every ingredient—good or bad—in your toothpaste is getting a fast pass into your bloodstream as you brush.
Fluoride. . .Good or Bad?
The majority of toothpastes contain fluoride for its supposed cavity fighting benefits. In fact, the American Dental Association won’t put its seal of acceptance on any toothpaste that doesn’t contain fluoride. But this chemical is also a known neurotoxin that may be responsible for a host of health issues. Neurodevelopmental disabilities include autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and other cognitive impairments.
In addition, fluoride acts as an endocrine disruptor. It is mistaken by the body as iodine. Iodine is a trace element necessary for nearly every major body function on a cellular level. Mistaking it for iodine, the body absorbs fluoride into tissues. Since very little fluoride is excreted in urine or sweat, it builds up in the body and prevents proper iodine absorption. Iodine deficiency can lead to thyroid issues, cognitive impairment, and pregnancy complications.
As if that weren’t enough, dental fluorosis may also cause some forms of kidney damage.
The Good News
Fortunately, there are lots of good toothpaste options that don’t contain fluoride or other undesirable chemicals. Check out this post about one ingredient you want in your toothpaste to protect your teeth. And you can read about the benefits of Bentonite Clay here.
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