The world of toothpaste

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The world of toothpastes seems full of conflicting information, scary recalls and a hodgepodge of products. But information is power, so dig a little deeper to make the healthiest choice for your family. Ingredients vary The ingredients in conventional toothpaste vary depending on the brand and often it's not as easy as checking the box or company website to find out exactly what you are putting in your mouth. Common toothpaste ingredients include detergents and chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulphate, flavouring or colouring agents, potassium nitrate (for teeth sensitivity), pyrophosphate (for tarter control) and possibly the most universal and controversial ingredient of all, fluoride. Controversial additive Fluoride is used to prevent cavities and is found in many leading brands of toothpaste not to mention mouthwashes, foods, drinks and in some area's drinking water. The appropriate use of fluoride is supported by both the Canadian and American Dental Associations among others; however skeptics point to its links with certain illnesses and to the fact that in the past fluoride was an ingredient in rat poison and there is enough fluoride in a tube of children's fluoride toothpaste to kill an average-weighing child under the age of 9. Natural choices If you are looking for something more natural to clean your teeth with you don't have to return to the historical method of brushing with charcoal. Although you may not find them on the shelf at your local drug store quite yet there are organic oral care choices out there. Spirit Bear Body Care in British Columbia sells an all-natural tooth powder made from peppermint, organic tea tree oil, arrowroot powder, grey sea salt (from France) and baking soda. The company has been selling the product for 10 years. The Colorado-based JASON sells a wide range of toothpaste choices depending on your needs. Dr.Hauschka sells a Neem and mint Toothpaste with a china clay, mineral Silica and natural mineral water. Aloe Vera Oral Care by Kiss My Face is a whitening toothpaste with certified aloe vera in a base of silica, Icelandic moss, peppermint, horse chestnut and tea tree oil. Druide's Certified Organic Toothpaste is a 100 percent vegan product rich in bamboo silica for whitening action and healthier gums. The vegan designation is important since glycerin, another toothpaste ingredient, can be a by-product of either a plant or an animal. Do your homework The best course of action is personal research. Talk to your dentist. If you are still committed to your traditional tube, why not buy an all-natural alternative, try it out and bring both to your next dental appointment. Get his or her opinion. Get a second opinion. Find out exactly what ingredients are in each and compare. Your teeth and your health will thank you. Shannon Wilmot is a freelance writer based in Toronto.