Have you ever thought about why you’re not supposed to swallow most oral hygiene products?

Most toothpastes contain fluoride or a remineralising agent which helps prevent and fight dental decay, but it is harmful when swallowed. The many other ingredients in toothpaste which act as foaming agents, abrasives, detergents, nanoparticles, flavours and preservatives are not for human consumption. Mouthwash commonly contains alcohol and artificial ingredients which can be toxic if ingested. And we haven’t even discussed titanium dioxide yet!

Think about this:

If we don’t swallow toothpaste and mouthwash, where does it go? Mostly down the sink. And where does it go if it is disposed of down the sink? Into the oceans!

Recent research has shown that the toxic ingredients in these products (predominantly titanium dioxide, triclosan and microbeads) are affecting marine life, contributing to contamination, reproductive disruption in some fish species, damage to coral reefs and morbidity of marine life. If an ingredient is not suitable to ingest, it shouldn’t be suitable to be disposed into the ocean. Especially because there are better options.

Luckily, many nations and organisations (checkout www.oceanunite.org) are recognising the impacts of these ingredients on the environment and hopefully this will drive improvements in the oral and personal care industries. Until then, here are some changes you can make: First know that the toothbrush does all the hard work when it comes to cleaning your teeth. While toothpaste and mouthwash makes your mouth “feel” or smell clean, 2 minutes of careful brushing with water does the trick. Secondly, there are products which don’t contain the problematic ingredients. If you want a natural alternative, you could brush with coconut oil or one of the many alternative products that are coming onto the market. Look at the ingredients list and make wise choices. Be careful of ingredients that come in powder forms, especially those that contain charcoal powders as these are easily aspirated (inhaled) which can lead to serious health issues.

Just because we’ve used traditional toothpastes and mouthwashes in the past doesn’t mean we have to in the future. We know more now, make better choices. For your health, and for the ocean’s sake.

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