2019 Master List: Toothpaste

In my post, The Quick and Dirty Guide on how to Clean Yourself Up, we covered a lot of no-gos and pitfalls when trying to shop more ethically. Sadly, there’s so much crap to worry about that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and psych yourself out from doing the research.

In the interest of making your life easier, I’ve been coming up with lists of (gender-agnostic) self-care products, in addition to home cleaning products, that you can trust are safe bets for both your health and the planet. You can find all of the 2019 Master Lists here.

For this post, we’re going to be covering toothpaste.

Before I get into the product picks though, I think it’s probably pretty important to address the issue of fluoride in dental care, since there’s a pretty large movement forming that’s anti-fluoride (in general, and for dental products).


Author’s Note

If you don’t know anything about fluoride, you can review this summary, which will give you a decent intro into what fluoride is, why it’s controversial, and why we’re talking about it in this post.

If you already know the whole story about why fluoride is controversial and have the right context to understand the options offered in this post, feel free to skip to the
product picks.

What function does fluoride in dental products serve that makes it important?

For a fuller explanation on why fluoride is added to dental care, read this.

Fluoride that’s added to dental care products is designed to help treat and protect tooth enamel, which is the exceptionally hard protective outer layer of our teeth.

As we move through the world, our tooth enamel comes under constant fire — sugars; acids; food in between our teeth we don’t brush out that starts to decay; random bacteria from the air we breathe; really, just life — and it doesn’t ever get a break. Eventually, if left uncared for, our enamel can completely erode, and once that happens, there’s no way to regrow it. That means that once your teeth are made vulnerable from compromised enamel, they’re pretty much stuck that way. Holes (aka “cavities”) can begin to develop in your teeth that, when left unchecked, can tear through your now-soft teeth and get all the way down to the nerve-endings in your jaw. If you’ve ever had a root canal before, you probably know firsthand how excruciatingly, mind-numbingly painful that can be.

This is where fluoride comes in. For decades, dentists have attested to its efficacy by pointing to all the studies that show fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel, which it does through the process of re-mineralization (source, source). Essentially, fluoride hardens our tooth enamel and helps prevents further tooth enamel degradation.

Additionally, a recent study has shown that fluoride helps tooth enamel for other reasons. Based on its findings, it seems as if fluoride reduces the ability for bacteria adhere to hydroxyapatite surfaces. Essentially, the study indicates thatfluoride doesn’t just strengthen tooth enamel, it also protects it by making it harder for the bad bacteria to stick to your teeth and start the erosion process.


Should you go with fluoride or fluoride-free dental products?

I would say that it’s smart to be concerned about fluoride exposure, because there are real risks at play, and I don’t want to minimize them. That said, I think it’s important to not let panic or fear dictate your decisions, because there’s a lot of evidence that shows that fluoride use (within a certain acceptable range) is immensely beneficial for your dental health.

If, and only if, you’ve done your research and have found reasons to believe that your exposure to fluoride would be uncomfortably high if you were to buy fluoridated dental care products, please consult with your dentist to come up with a plan that will enable you to healthily pursue fluoride-free dental care options. I do not encourage under any circumstance transitioning away from fluoridated toothpaste without at least first consulting a licensed healthcare provider. I also suggest you make sure to take extra steps to naturally protect your tooth enamel, since you will be more at-risk for cavities.

If your current dentist discourages you, or has discouraged you in the past, from making the transition to fluoride-free dental care, it’s okay seek a second professional’s opinion! Please keep in mind, though, that a lot of dentists are just like us, and most of them care about their patients more than pushing an agenda; they may have a medical reason they’re not good at communicating as to why you might not be a great candidate.


Product Picks

Now that we’ve gotten all that context out of the way, let’s actually get into the whole point of all this post!

As before, the below products meet the following criteria:

  • cruelty-free: no animal testing has been done for the product to reach market, and no animal-derived ingredients are included if the harvesting process can cause harm to the animal (e.g., lanolin harvesting).
  • environmentally responsible: the ingredients listed on the label are of nonexistent or relatively low risk to the environment.
  • non-hazardous: the phrase “non-toxic” isn’t a regulated phrase, so we’re sticking with “non-hazardous” to keep a safe distance from meaningless marketing terminology. In this case, you should take “non-hazardous” to mean that the product, when used as intended (don’t drink it or bathe in it if the label doesn’t tell you to do so), poses overall less risk of experiencing negative side effects associated with exposure to various chemical compounds.
  • consistent results: the product delivers comparable results to conventional products, and works the way you want it to work significantly more often than it does not.

Author’s Note

As usual, this list isn’t sponsored in any way. The products listed below are products that come from brands with which I have experience (direct or indirect, through friends and family) or into which I personally have done extensive research.

Fluoride Options


JĀSÖN Anticavity Toothpaste

Pros

  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free, Leaping Bunny certified
  • Free from Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
  • Relatively low cost per ounce

Cons

  • Contains glycerin, which is often a palm derivative
  • Harder to find their fluoridated toothpastes in stores
  • Some ingredients rank as known irritants and allergens according to EWG (although it’s worth noting that most ingredients listed are not actually “toxic”)


DENTTABS Dentifrice Tablets with Fluoride

Pros

  • Vegan
  • Plastic free
  • Minimal production and post-consumer waste
  • Fairly easy to purchase within the EU and the UK
  • Travel and adventure friendly

Cons

  • Contains “aroma” as ingredient (who knows what that means?)
  • Virtually impossible to purchase without high delivery fees in the United States or hiked-up costs
  • No organic ingredients (where applicable)


Hello Oral Care

Pros

Cons

  • Contains glycerin, which is often a palm derivative
  • Few organic ingredients
  • Contains “flavor” without indication as to origin
  • Contains titanium dioxide
  • “Extra Whitening” option contains Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), which, although considered safe, can cause irritation to some people. It can also cause dryness, which is counterproductive to protecting against enamel erosion

Hello Oral Naturally Whitening Toothpaste

$24.89 for 18.8oz ($1.33/oz)
$21.16 for 18.8oz with 15% off through Amazon Subscribe & Save

Hello Oral Whitening Toothpaste

$24.87 for 18.8oz ($1.33/oz)
$21.14 for 18.8oz with 15% off through Amazon Subscribe & Save

Hello Oral Sensitive Relief Toothpaste

$27.27 for 18.8oz ($1.45/oz)
$23.18 for 18.8oz with 15% off through Amazon Subscribe & Save

Hello Oral Extra Whitening Toothpaste

$24.87 for 18.8oz ($1.33/oz)
$21.14 for 18.8oz with 15% off through Amazon Subscribe & Save
(contains SLS)

Tom’s of Maine

Pros

  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free, PETA certified
  • Works with TerraCycle to help consumers recycle their products after use
  • Comes in multiple flavors
  • One option is free from Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Cons

  • Although certified as cruelty-free, Tom’s of Maine’s parent company is Colgate-Palmolive, which is a company that tests on animals
  • All products contain (vegetable) glycerin, which is often a palm derivative
  • Many of Tom’s of Maine toothpastes contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), which, although considered safe, can cause irritation to some people. It can also cause dryness, which is counterproductive to protecting against enamel erosion
  • There’s a waitlist to join the TerraCycle program, so participating drop-off locations may be your only way to recycle the containers
  • Prices are somewhat inconsistent, and vary according to retailer and flavor (though sometimes bundling options are available)
  • Availability for some of the selected products is limited / hard to find in stores

Tom’s of Maine Cavity Protection Toothpaste

$8.18 for 2 5.5oz tubes ($0.75/oz)
$6.95 for 2 tubes with 15% off through Amazon Subscribe & Save
(contains SLS)

Tom’s of Maine Enamel Strength Toothpaste

$35.94 for 6 4oz-tubes ($1.50/oz)
$30.55 for 6 tubes with 15% off through Amazon Subscribe & Save
(contains SLS)

Tom’s of Maine Luminous White Toothpaste

$4.89 for 4.7oz ($1.21/oz)
$25.45 for 6 tubes with 15% off through Amazon Subscribe & Save
(contains SLS)

Tom’s of Maine Simply White Toothpaste

$28.74 for 6 4.7oz tubes ($1.02/oz)
$24.43 for 6 tubes with 15% off through Amazon Subscribe & Save
(contains SLS)

Tom’s of Maine Whole Care Toothpaste

$5-6 for 4.7oz ($1.07-$1.28/oz)
$8.82 for 2 tubes with 15% off through Amazon Subscribe & Save
(contains SLS)

Tom’s of Maine Wicked Fresh Toothpaste

$11.34 for 2 4.7oz tubes ($1.21/oz)
$9.64 for 2 4.7oz tubes with 15% off through Amazon Subscribe & Save
(contains SLS)

Fluoride-Free Toothpastes


Davids Natural Toothpaste

Pros

  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free, Leaping Bunny certified
  • EWG Verified as safe
  • Comes in a metal tube, so minimal plastic waste
  • For US buyers: 95% of ingredients and 100% of final product produced in the US

Cons

  • Contains “vegetable” glycerin, which is often a palm derivative
  • Only comes in one flavor
  • Most expensive toothpaste option on this list


JĀSÖN Fluoride-Free Toothpastes

Pros

  • Free from Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free, Leaping Bunny certified
  • Some flavor options are incredibly affordable

Cons

  • Contains glycerin, which is often a palm derivative
  • Contains carageenan, which some studies have reported cause inflammation
  • Some ingredients rank as known irritants and allergens according to EWG (although it’s worth noting that most ingredients listed are not actually “toxic”)


Dr. Brite Toothpaste

Pros

  • Most ingredients are organic
  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free, Leaping Bunny certified
  • No SLS or other foaming agents
  • Several flavor options available
  • Some flavors EWG Verified
  • Developed by dentists

Cons

  • Contains glycerin, which is often a palm derivative
  • No foaming agents of any kind might not appeal to everyone

Dr. Brite Berrylicious Toothpaste

$9.99 for 5oz ($2/oz)
$8.49 for 5oz OR $23.79 for 15oz with 15% off through Amazon Subscribe & Save

Dr. Brite Coco Chai Whitening Toothpaste

$9.99 for 5oz ($2/oz)
$8.49 for 5oz OR $23.79 for 15oz with 15% off through Amazon Subscribe & Save

Dr. Brite Mint Activated Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste

$9.99 for 5oz ($2/oz)
$8.49 for 5oz OR $23.79 for 15oz with 15% off through Amazon Subscribe & Save

Dr. Brite Mint Chip Whitening Toothpaste

$9.99 for 5oz ($2/oz)
$23.79 for 15oz with 15% off through Amazon Subscribe & Save

Even More Options!

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