Between the upcoming holidays (a.k.a. candy season) and mask mouth being prevailing offenders to your oral health, dental care is of utmost priority right now. We know the importance of brushing and flossing daily, not smoking, and cutting down on sugary foods, but what about the potentially damaging ingredients that can be lurking in our oral care products? When it comes to the ingredients that go into dental care, the waters can be murky. From fluoride to hydrogen peroxide and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), there’s a lot to learn when it comes to cleaning up your oral care routine. Here, the experts break it down.
What It Means to Be ‘Natural’
Similar to the beauty and personal care industries, there is no one definition of ‘clean’ or ‘natural’ in the oral care space. But there are some general things to keep in mind when choosing products. “To us, natural oral care is all about caring for your mouth and body by using solutions that are naturally derived and maximize the best of what nature has to offer, rather than relying on chemically-produced ingredients,” explains Tara Tan, the founder and director of Grin, a natural oral care brand. This means more natural flavors, less preservatives, reduced foaming agents, and ethically sourced alternative ingredients.
Take, for instance, hydrogen peroxide. “Hydrogen peroxide, a bleaching agent, can lead to mouth irritation and increase tooth sensitivity,” Tan explains. Grin substitutes with baking soda, which is known to remove plaque and acts as a cleaning agent. Another ingredient that natural brands tend to avoid is sodium lauryl sulfate. While SLS is an ingredient found in traditional toothpaste, “it is a surfactant and industrial detergent added for its ability to create foam and provides little cleaning benefits,” Tan shares. The foaming agent may create the illusion of polishing teeth, but “studies show it can cause canker sores, dry mouth, gingivitis, and allergies – so really, not an ingredient you want lurking around in your mouth,” she cautions.
But it’s not just toothpaste. Mouthwash and breath sprays can also feature irritants. Aloe and tea tree oil are common natural swaps that leave the mouth clean but not dry. If you read our deep dive into mask mouth, you know that dry mouth creates an acidic environment for plaque and bacteria. The result? Gum sensitivity, bad breath, and even tooth decay.
Natural Oral Care Brands to Try
Mass production and marketing trends tend to be the primary factors in why big name brands choose to cut corners and offer poorly sourced ingredients. Natural brands are aiming to change these practices. “Your mouth is one of the most absorbent parts of your body, hence why a lot of medication is taken under the tongue,” Tan explains. “So, you want to have confidence that the toothpaste you’re putting into your mouth twice daily, only contains ingredients that are safe for not just your mouth, but the rest of the body as well.”
If you’re ready to clean up your dental products, dig your teeth into this list.
The Family Friendly Pick: Grin
Designed for children and adults alike, Grin offers natural flavors, biodegradable packaging, and a cute design. Along with the charcoal-infused bamboo toothbrushes and biodegradable dental floss sticks, the brand’s toothpastes are free of SLS, added sugar, preservatives, artificial colors and fragrance, fragrance, and harsh abrasives. Our pick? The Grin Kids Complete Oral Care Pack, which is sure to make your little ones look forward to brushing their teeth. $37, grin.com
The Chic One: Klēn
Founded by Brian Harris, DDS, Klen products are the kind you’ll want to leave on your vanity. From toothpaste to tongue scrapers (there’s a lot of bacteria that lives on your tongue), this is a one-stop shop. Try the products à la carte or opt for a subscription to limit waste with reusable mouthwash containers. We’re partial to the Klēn & Whiten Bundle, which includes the brand's natural mint toothpaste, refillable mouthwash, and stainless steel tongue cleanser. $31.50, klenproducts.com
The Minimalist: Davids
What Davids cruelty-free, vegan, and fluoride-free natural toothpaste offers is a clean feel that you can feel good about. Made in the United States from start to finish (that goes for ingredient list, too), the metal tubes are lined with a food-grade, non-BPA liner (meaning no metal in your paste) and come with an individual key to ensure you get every last drop. We like the Peppermint Charcoal flavor because it contains coconut charcoal for enamel-safe whitening. $30, davids.com
The Old School Favorite: Dr. Bronner’s
A classic, Dr. Bronner’s has been a market staple since 1948 (i.e. they’ve been doing clean before it was cool). The All-One Toothpaste is made with 70 percent organic ingredients and no parabens, flaming agents, or artificial flavors. It might not get sudsy, but it does get you clean. $6.50, drbronner.com
The Sustainability Superstar: Bite
Bite is a plastic-free, vegan, and clean brand that takes a new approach to sustainability. All of their items are made without fillers, artificial dyes, or hard-to-recycle materials. The standout product? Their Toothpaste Bits, a dissolving tablet made with nano-hydroxyapatite (nHAp), a fluoride alternative. The minty tablets render the tube obsolete, so you can say goodbye to your carbon footprint and hello to a fresh smile. Try the Daily Habits Set for a full intro to the range. $60, bitetoothpastebits.com
All products featured are independently selected by our editors, however, AEDIT may receive a commission on items purchased through our links.
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