When it comes to living naturally, oral hygiene sometimes seems to be the final frontier. Indeed, many people who are comfortable switching their diets, trying out new skincare products, and even cleaning their homes with natural alternatives may still be on the fence about using more natural dental health products.
But what if research showed that traditional oral hygiene products aren’t as good for your teeth as you might think?1
It's true: many oral health products contain ingredients that can do more harm than good––and research demonstrates that science-backed natural toothpaste can take your oral hygiene to a whole new level.
To understand how, let’s begin by taking a look at your oral microbiome.
Oral Microbiome 101
Just like your gut, your mouth is home to hundreds of species of bacteria.2 Most of them are beneficial, like L. paracasei and S. salivarius, but a few of them are invader species, like S. mutans and P. gingivalis. When you've got an appropriate balance of bacteria, your oral health tends to be good: you don't have too many unwanted bacteria in the biofilm that coats your teeth, so your enamel and gums are moderately healthy. Additionally, when your bacteria are balanced, your saliva stays at a relatively neutral pH and contains appropriate levels of the enzymes that jump-start good digestion.3
When the bacteria in your mouth become unbalanced though, three things happen:
• Your mouth tends to become more acidic, creating ideal conditions for unwanted bacteria to take over. If the imbalance goes unaddressed, these bacteria can damage your teeth and gums and cause bad breath.4
• Your immune system suffers. Your mouth plays an important role in your immunity, since it's the gateway to the gut, where 80% of your immune system resides. But when numbers of the pro-immune bacteria in your oral microbiome decrease, you're more likely to feel under the weather, especially from ENT-related complaints.7
3 Ways Traditional Dental Products Do More Harm Than Good:
If that list has you reaching for the toothpaste and mouthwash, hang on a minute, because many traditional dental products contain ingredients that destroy bacteria indiscriminately and create conditions that allow undesirable bacteria to thrive. This includes antibacterial ingredients that wipe out both good bacteria and bad, sweeteners and chemical additives, alcohol, and even the banned hormone-altering ingredient triclosan.8
Besides the damage that these ingredients do to your oral microbiome (and your gut microbiome, from swallowing small amounts during brushing and swishing), they can also help contribute to issues they're supposed to be solving––notably, bad breath. While oral hygiene products can mask or temporarily destroy the bacteria that cause foul odors, they also often set up conditions that allow those bacteria to regroup, instead of increasing the number of beneficial bacteria to address the underlying cause of bad breath.
Finally, many hygiene products contain ingredients to whiten teeth that are effective, but wear down your enamel in the process. Peroxide and abrasives are too harsh for your enamel, leaving it weak and prone to further damage.
You might notice this as your teeth becoming more sensitive after a whitening treatment. (Acid erosion from an unbalanced oral microbiome can also leave the nerves in your teeth closer to the surface of the tooth than they should be, which is why you might notice sensitivity even without whitening treatments.) And while you can take steps to remineralize your teeth over months or years, once your enamel reaches a certain degree of damage, it's gone for good.
Choosing the Best Natural Toothpaste
So what can you do if traditional oral health products are off the table? While you may have had few options in previous years, more and more safe, science-backed natural toothpastes are coming onto the market now. (Including our own Hyperbiotics Activated Charcoal Probiotic Toothpaste!)
To make sure that your oral hygiene products are really working for you, look for ingredients that support your oral microbiome. The best toothpaste should also be free of flavorings and synthetic additives that could undo the good work of the other ingredients, and shouldn't contain harsh whiteners.
Here are five especially beneficial toothpaste ingredients to keep an eye out for:
These powerful microbes aren't just good for your gut––they can also help repopulate your oral microbiome! L. paracasei is particularly beneficial here: it's been clinically shown to crowd out S. mutans, the number one culprit when it comes to holes in your enamel and irritated gums. It's also a natural enemy of P. gingivalis, one of the main types of odor-causing bacteria.9
2. Organic coconut oil.
Coconut oil has been used for centuries to clean teeth, and new research is backing the practice up. Studies show that coconut oil significantly reduces the number of S. mutans in the mouth, decreases biofilm formation, and can help keep gums from becoming temporarily inflamed.10
Xylitol is actually really beneficial for your oral health. It attracts undesirable bacteria because it's sweet like sugar, but its molecular structure is different: the bacteria can't digest it or get nutrition from it, so they end up starving.11 Even better, xylitol doesn't affect beneficial bacteria, so they get a chance to repopulate your oral microbiome while the less-hospitable bacteria are out for the count.12 The result? you get the sweetness and good taste you're used to in your toothpaste, all while supporting your microbiome––talk about a win-win!
4. Activated coconut charcoal powder.
It might seem counterintuitive to put black powder on your teeth to whiten them, but activated coconut charcoal powder is one of the best natural ways to gently whiten your teeth. It's abrasive enough to remove stains, but not so harsh that it damages your enamel. What's more, it helps to balance the pH of your mouth, which also works to keep your oral microbiome in balance.
5. Diatomaceous earth.
Similarly, diatomaceous earth acts as a gentle cleaner, physically removing biofilm buildup from your teeth without damaging the enamel. Its abrasive qualities also make it a good polishing agent for your teeth, removing surface stains from tea, coffee, tobacco, and wine.
When the stakes are as high as they are with your oral health (and its connection to your overall well-being), it makes sense to ensure that your teeth and gums are getting the care they need.
So keep up your healthy brushing habits, and use a premium microbe-friendly activated charcoal toothpaste like Hyperbiotics Activated Charcoal Probiotic Toothpaste to keep your good guys thriving and your teeth strong. Even better, try pairing our black charcoal toothpaste with microbiome-boosting PRO-Dental––your bad guys won't know what hit them, and you'll be able to enjoy that shiny smile and sweet breath knowing that you're giving your teeth and gums the best possible support. Want to know more? Read our blog - Activated Charcoal Probiotic Toothpaste.
1. Blinkhorn, A., Bartold, P.M., Cullinan, M.P., Madden, T.E. . . . Seymour, G.J. (2009). Is There a Role for Triclosan/copolymer Toothpaste in the Management of Periodontal Disease? British Dental Journal, 207. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.2009.669
2. Dewhirst, F.E, Chen, T., Izard, J., Paster, B.J., Tanner, A.C.R. . . . Wade, W.G. (2010). The Human Oral Microbiome. Journal of Bacteriology, 192(19). doi: 10.1128/JB.00542-10
3. Tiwari, M. (2011). Science Behind Human Saliva. Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine, 2(1). doi: 10.4103/0976-9668.82322
4. Hajishengallis, G. (2014). The Inflammophilic Character of the Periodontitis-associated Microbiota. Molecular Oral Microbiology, 29(6). doi: 10.1111/omi.12065
5. Han, Y.W., Wang, X. (2013). Mobile Microbiome: Oral Bacteria in Extra-oral Infections and Inflammation. Journal of Dental Research, 92(6). doi: 10.1177/0022034513487559
6. Shoemark D.K., Allen S.J. (2015). The Microbiome and Disease: Reviewing the Links Between the Oral Microbiome, Aging, and Alzheimer's Disease. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 43(3). doi: 10.3233/JAD-141170
7. Pierro, F. D., Donato, G., Fomia, F., Adami, T., Careddu, D., C., & Albera, R. (2012). Preliminary Pediatric Clinical Evaluation of the Oral Probiotic Streptococcus Salivarius K12 in Preventing Recurrent Pharyngitis and/or Tonsillitis Caused by Streptococcus Pyogenes and Recurrent Acute Otitis Media. International Journal of General Medicine, 2012(5). doi: 10.2147/IJGM.S38859
8. Gaulke, C.A., Barton, C.L., Proffitt, S., Tanguay, R.L., Sharpton, T.J. (2016). Triclosan Exposure Is Associated with Rapid Restructuring of the Microbiome in Adult Zebrafish. PLoSOne, 11(5).
9. Chuang, L-C., Huang, C-S., Ou-Yang, L-W., Lin, S-Y. (2011). Probiotic Lactobacillus Paracasei Effect on Cariogenic Bacterial Flora. Clinical Oral Investigations, 15(4). doi: 10.1007/s00784-010-0423-9
10. Peedikayil, F.C., Sreenivasan, P., Narayanan, A. (2015). Effect of Coconut Oil in Plaque Related Gingivitis — A Preliminary Report. Nigerian Medical Journal, 56(2).
11. Nayak, P.A., Nayak, U.A., Khandelwal, V. (2014). The Effect of Xylitol on Dental Caries and Oral Flora. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dentistry, 6. doi: 10.2147/CCIDE.S55761
12. Bahador, A., Lesan, S., Kashi, N. (2012). Effect of Xylitol on Cariogenic and Beneficial Oral Streptococci: a Randomized, Double-blind Crossover Trial. Iranian Journal of Microbiology, 4(2).
Rachel Allen is a writer at Hyperbiotics who's absolutely obsessed with learning about how our bodies work. She's fascinated by the latest research on bacteria and the role they play in health, and loves to help others learn about how probiotics can help the body get back in balance. For more ideas on how you can benefit from the power of probiotics and live healthier days, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter. To learn more about how a healthy microbiome can enrich your life, subscribe to our newsletter.