Is gluten an issue with a member of your household? Celiac disease affects one in every 133 Americans, or about one percent of the population, according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Celiac disease is not the only medical condition linked to celiac sensitivity, either. Some people have an unexplained sensitivity to the protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
Keeping a gluten free house is not easy, especially when it is found in places you might not suspect like mainstream toothpaste brands. You might also want to limit the number of preservatives in your life, so natural toothpaste looks attractive. One question you need to ask is, are these products as good for your teeth as they seem?
The answer we like to give our patients is maybe. Like most things, it depends on the product and the ingredients in it. Smart shopping is essential when looking for natural and gluten free toothpaste.
Is Regular Toothpaste Bad for You?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allow manufacturers to include some chemical ingredients in toothpaste in safe dosages. Materials like titanium dioxide enhance the pigmentation of the toothpaste, making it more ascetically pleasing to consumers. You see brilliant white toothpaste and mentally associate it with white teeth.
These ingredients have little to do with the action of the product. They just enhance it in some way – better texture, snazzy appearance or sweet taste. Are the chemicals bad for you? Not if you brush your teeth correctly and spit out the toothpaste. No matter how diligent you are, however, you may still swallow some of the chemicals. Most of the time, this has little effect on your body unless you are sensitive to an ingredient or chemical like gluten.
Why is There Gluten in Toothpaste?
Gluten is present is some of the raw materials used by toothpaste manufacturers. The only way to know for sure if toothpaste is gluten free is not stated on the label is to ask the manufacturer. Some, like Crest, say on their website that their dental products are gluten free. If necessary, email the manufacturer and ask for confirmation.
Are Natural and Gluten Free the Same Thing?
If you or someone in your family cannot tolerate gluten, then understanding the difference between the labels “natural” and “gluten free” is important. One does not necessarily mean the other. Gluten free products are not always made with all natural ingredients and natural does not necessarily mean gluten free.
Learning the Vernacular
Marketing agencies spend hours developing labels and buzz phrases that sell their products. There are some terms consumers should be aware of when shopping for natural toothpaste.
Organic – Organic means made from organic raw materials, or products grown without pesticides or chemicals. When you see organic produce, it is grown without the use of chemically based pesticides or soil nutrients. Organic meats come from livestock fed organically and not injected with growth hormones or antibiotics.
Organic and natural are interchangeable when it comes to toothpaste. Both contain herbal ingredients used for traditional dental care.
Made with Baking Soda – This is something manufacturers advertise to make their products stand out. It means that baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is present in the toothpaste. It does not mean it is natural or gluten free.
Toothpastes sold in “Natural” stores are not necessarily natural products, either. They may still contain chemicals like sodium lauryl sulfate, an agent that creates lather, for example. SLS is linked to microscopic tears in tissue that can cause canker sores.
What to Look for in Natural and Gluten Free Toothpaste?
One thing any toothpaste product you are considering should have is fluoride. If the label doesn’t say fluoride, then look at the list of ingredients. You should see sodium fluoride or sodium monofluorophosphate listed.
The other contents vary based on who makes the toothpaste. Possible materials include:
- Cinnamon for taste
- Green tea extract to fight bacteria and prevent bad breath
- Papaya plant extract for whitening
- Zinc oxide to fight tartar
- Citric acid for tartar control
- Peelu to whiten
- Tea tree oil to fight bacteria and promote fresh breath
- Sea salt for gum support
Anything herbal or natural might be part of a specific formula.
How to Choose a Toothpaste?
If finding the best natural toothpaste is important to you, then it will be a process of trial and error. The one essential ingredient is fluoride. Beyond that, it is a matter of preference. Check the label for any toothpaste product you are considering to ensure it is natural. If you need gluten free, make sure the product specifies that feature or ask the manufacturer for clarification.
Can You Make your own Natural Toothpaste?
There are recipes available on the Internet for natural toothpaste. The problem is a homemade paste may not contain fluoride. If your water is fluoridated, then your homemade toothpaste will be, as well. If you don’t know if your water has fluoride, it is better to buy natural toothpaste made with it, instead.
Most all natural toothpaste recipes contain at least two common ingredients:
- Baking soda
You mix three parts baking soda with one part table to salt, then add a little water to create a paste. Other ingredients like peppermint oil and honey improve the taste and texture of the toothpaste. You can also add glycerine to enhance the way the toothpaste cleans your teeth. Glycerine is found in the soap-making section of craft stores.
Is natural or gluten free toothpaste right for your families dental needs? It can’t hurt as long as you choose a paste with fluoride. If you have kids, it might be a good idea since children tend to swallow more toothpaste.
If your only concern is gluten, then name brand products are acceptable in most cases. Here are some toothpaste brands we recommend that are gluten free:
(Please note: We recommend reading toothpaste labels to ensure that they are gluten free.)
- Arm & Hammer
- Desert Essence
- Tom’s of Maine