Currently there are 66 million people living in the UK, each person goes through an average of 3 tubes of toothpaste a year some maybe more, so that is 198,000,000 tubes of toothpaste that at sometime or other head there way to a landfill.
Each empty tube of toothpaste weighs 8g, which means that there is 125,000 tubes to a tonne, equaling to 1,584 tonnes each year ends in a landfill. Based on what i found i decided to make my own and to take a look at the ingredients in toothpaste to find out what i was really putting in my mouth.
The five main ingredients used in each tube of toothpaste are Flouride, Glycerol, Sorbitol, Calcium Carbonate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.
FLUORIDE is used in toothpaste to help fight tooth decay, basically making the enamel harder on your teeth, this is also the reason why the local authorities put it in our water. However research has shown that to much fluoride is actually toxic to us, it can cause a condition called dental fluorosis which leaves white streaks on the teeth, to much exposure over a period of time can cause damage to our bones and joints leaving them more hardened and less elastic giving us a increased risk of fractures. The fact is Fluoride is a highly toxic substance in the U.S. poison warnings are now put on any tube containing the stuff, it is more toxic than lead and slightly less than arsenic and is used in some rodenticides and pesticides to kill rats and insects.
GLYCEROL is used in many things we find in the store, it is used in toothpaste to ensure it does not dry out and so it glides smoothly from the tube. It can be taken orally but you have to watch out for side effects such as bloating nausea, vomiting and thirst but thats if you take it in large quantities, it has many benefits such as it is used to reduce pressure on the brain for stroke victims, so as long as you not looking to drink it neat you should be ok with this ingredient.
SORBITOL has been used for sometime as a sugar alternative for people with diabetes as helps sweeten food, it is commonly used in toothpaste to give it a sweeter taste as it does not give you cavities. It can be taken if you suffer from constipation (make sure you don’t go anywhere to far from the toilet if you take it) it can also be used to help reduce weight however you have to be careful how much you take as to much can cause extreme weight loss, in fact there has been recordings of this were people have chewed around 20 sticks of gum a day which has caused extreme stomach upsets from it.
CALCIUM CARBONATE this substance is used as a abrasive to help remove plaque from your teeth, calcium is a important part of bone health and is also used to help our muscles function however it does have the negative side of causing kidney stones but in the amount found in toothpaste should not really be a issue, you should also be aware it can make some drugs less effective.
SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE is a detergent used in toothpaste to give you bubbly foam, it has been used in many cosmetics for many years, SLS can cause irritation to the eyes, lungs, cause mouth sores and has been known to cause cancer in laboratory animals, i would suggest you to steer clear of any products containing these just to be on the safe side.
From what we can see the ingredients used in toothpaste have some benefits but also a few negatives and personally anything containing SLS is a big no for me, so what are the options available, for the last week i have been trying a alternative toothpaste i made myself from three ingredients Coconut Oil, Bicarbonate of Soda and Peppermint Oil, i have found my teeth to be clean, they also feel stronger before swopping i found my teeth were starting to move a little however since changing i find they move less, my gums don’t bleed and my breathe feels fresh, even as the day goes on i still find no change in this, i would often brush my teeth at night and wake in the morning feeling like i had not brushed at all, now i find my teeth still feel clean in the morning. The only thing you need to remember is that coconut oil melts at room temperature so its best to keep it in a fridge, however even when i have used it at room temperature it still has done a good job of cleaning my teeth.
To make your own toothpaste you will need Organic Coconut Oil 1 x tablespoon, Bicarbonate Soda 1 x teaspoon and about 20 drops of peppermint but you can adjust this to taste, you will also need a small jar to keep it all in. Mix it all together well and as mentioned keep it in the fridge until you need it, i take mine out before bed to brush my teeth and then return it in the morning when i have brushed them in the morning i find this better than running up and down the stairs unless of course you plan on installing a cooler in the bathroom. The big plus is by making your ow toothpaste you are not buying tubes of toothpaste that are going to end up in a landfill, you might want to also consider next time you change your toothbrush to look at more sustainable options eg made from bamboo however remember the bristles are still made from plastic, but at least its a step in the right direction. Now remember the figures i have used are based on the UK if we took the world wide population based on the use of 3 tubes of toothpaste a year at a population of 7.7 billion, tell you work it out and comment below.
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