Is Toothpaste Safe? A Dentist Explains

Yes, toothpaste is safe, and it has multiple vital roles in our health, including removing food particles, bacteria, and plaque from our teeth and gums through our daily brushing routines.

Additionally, formulations containing remineralizing agents such as nano hydroxyapatite can stimulate remineralization, strengthening tooth enamel and reducing the risk of tooth decay.

Despite these benefits, it's important to be aware of potential drawbacks associated with certain toothpaste ingredients, including fluoride, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), and artificial additives, which may cause adverse reactions or environmental concerns.

When choosing toothpaste, opting for fluoride-free alternatives with safe and effective ingredients like nano hydroxyapatite can help you maintain good oral health without compromising safety or efficacy.

In this article, I'll explain everything you need to know about toothpaste and how to pick the safest option.

First, why do we need toothpaste?

A woman holding toothbrush and toothpaste

While some people suggest toothpaste is bad, the truth is that we need toothpaste for several different important functions in maintaining our oral health. First, toothpaste helps to remove food particles, bacteria, and plaque from our teeth and gums when we brush.

This mechanical action of brushing combined with the abrasive particles in toothpaste physically scrubs away debris and bacteria which can prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

Additionally, remineralizing toothpaste with sodium fluoride or nano hydroxyapatite, a mineral that strengthens tooth enamel, can stimulate remineralization and reverse tooth decay.

Essentially, nano hydroxyapatite makes our teeth more resistant to acid attacks from the bad bacteria living in our mouth, thus reducing our risk of enamel erosion.

Moreover, toothpaste may contain ingredients that freshen breath, such as mint or menthol, leaving your mouth feeling clean and refreshed after brushing. Overall, toothpaste plays a crucial role in maintaining dental health and preventing dental problems, and it's an easy practice to implement.

Why might toothpaste be bad for us?

a woman brushing her teeth

While toothpaste is crucial for maintaining our oral health, it's essential to be aware of potential drawbacks associated with certain formulations. Whitening toothpaste, for example, can be abrasive and might not be suitable for everyone, particularly pregnant women and kids.

Further, commonly avoided ingredients like fluoride and sodium lauryl sulfate found in many toothpaste varieties have been linked to side effects like dental fluorosis and canker sores, so it's important to choose products that work well for your specific needs.

Additionally, artificial flavors, dyes, and preservatives commonly found in toothpaste may not agree with everyone's sensitivities, particularly those of us with sensitive teeth, and could lead to adverse reactions.

Lastly, the environmental impact of toothpaste tubes is a concern due to the plastic waste they generate, so we recommend considering eco-friendly toothpaste alternatives if possible.

What to Avoid in Toothpaste

A man experiencing toothache

Of all of the controversial toothpaste ingredients out there, fluoride, triclosan, and charcoal are three of the most common offenders.

By and large, these ingredients are controversial for their potential to induce toxicity or irritation to the sensitive tissues in your mouth. Thankfully, we have other safe ingredients that can replace this list, including nano hydroxyapatite which is a safe and effective alternative to fluoride.

Now, let's walk through what to avoid in toothpaste.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Ever wondered why your toothpaste foams? Well, SLS is a surfactant commonly used in personal care products, including toothpaste, to create foam and aid in the distribution of ingredients.

However, SLS can also strip away the protective layer of saliva on the gums, leading to dryness, irritation, and gum inflammation. Additionally, some individuals may experience allergic reactions or increased sensitivity to SLS, manifesting as mouth ulcers, canker sores, or a burning sensation in their mouths.

For those with sensitive gums or a history of oral sensitivity, avoiding toothpaste containing SLS can help minimize discomfort and maintain oral health without exacerbating existing issues.

Fluoride Toothpaste

A fluoride toothpaste

While fluoride is commonly used in toothpaste for its ability to prevent tooth decay and strengthen enamel, you may prefer fluoride-free alternatives due to concerns regarding potential adverse effects associated with fluoride exposure, such as dental fluorosis.

For example, those with fluoride sensitivities or allergies may experience discomfort or irritation when using fluoride-containing toothpaste.

Additionally, excessive fluoride intake, particularly in young children who may swallow toothpaste, can increase the risk of dental fluorosis, a condition characterized by white or brown discoloration of the teeth.

To mitigate these risks, parents and pregnant women may opt for fluoride-free toothpaste formulations to maintain good oral health without the potential drawbacks associated with fluoride exposure.

Triclosan

You might want to avoid triclosan in toothpaste due to concerns about its potential negative effects on both oral and overall health. Among some of the most controversial toxic toothpaste ingredients, triclosan is an antimicrobial agent commonly used in personal care products, including toothpaste, to prevent bacterial growth and maintain oral hygiene.

However, several studies have raised concerns about the safety of triclosan, including its potential contribution to antibiotic resistance and disruption of the body's hormonal balance.

Additionally, the  American Dental Association (ADA) has stated that there is insufficient evidence to support the long-term safety and effectiveness of triclosan in toothpaste, leading to some skepticism regarding its use in oral care products.

Charcoal

Charcoal Toothpaste

Did you know charcoal is an abrasive ingredient with the potential to damage tooth enamel and negatively affect your dental health?

Charcoal toothpaste contains finely ground particles of activated charcoal, which can be abrasive and harsh on tooth enamel when used regularly over time. One cause of tooth decay, continuous use of charcoal toothpaste may lead to enamel erosion, causing increased tooth sensitivity and making your teeth more susceptible to damage.

While some people suggest that activated charcoal can absorb toxic chemicals and stains, its abrasive nature may outweigh its benefits in the long run, especially if you have sensitive teeth or already weakened enamel.

Side Effects of Fluoride Toothpaste

Fluoride, when used in appropriate amounts, is generally safe and effective for strengthening teeth and promoting overall oral health. However, excessive fluoride intake can lead to potential side effects.

Dental Fluorosis

Dental fluorosis  is a condition that affects the appearance of tooth enamel, typically occurring during the early stages of tooth development in childhood.

It manifests as white streaks or spots, brown discoloration, or pitting on the tooth surface. Dental fluorosis occurs when children ingest too much fluoride during tooth formation, often from swallowing fluoride toothpaste or consuming fluoridated water in excess.

While mild forms of dental fluorosis may be barely noticeable, severe cases can lead to significant aesthetic concerns and may require cosmetic dental treatment to improve the appearance of affected teeth.

Skeletal Fluorosis

Skeletal fluorosis is a bone disorder caused by long-term exposure to high levels of fluoride, typically from drinking water with naturally occurring fluoride concentrations above recommended levels.

In skeletal fluorosis, fluoride accumulates in the bones, leading to changes in bone density and structure. Symptoms of skeletal fluorosis may include joint pain, stiffness, and skeletal deformities.

While skeletal fluorosis is rare in areas with controlled fluoride levels, it remains a concern in regions where natural fluoride levels are high or in populations with excessive fluoride exposure.

Fluoride Toxicity

Fluoride toxicity occurs when individuals ingest large amounts of fluoride, either accidentally or intentionally. This can happen through the ingestion of fluoride-containing products such as toothpaste or mouthwash, especially by young children who may swallow these products instead of spitting them out.

Symptoms of fluoride toxicity may include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and in severe cases, convulsions and cardiac arrhythmias.

While acute fluoride toxicity is rare, it can occur in cases of accidental ingestion of concentrated fluoride products or intentional misuse of fluoride supplements.

Good Ingredients to Look For in Toothpaste

NOBS Toothpaste Tablets Ingredients

When considering toothpaste ingredients, it's helpful to look for the following categories:

  1. Remineralizing Agents: Ingredients hydroxyapatite or nano hydroxyapatite can aid in remineralizing weakened enamel, repairing microscopic imperfections, and strengthening teeth against decay.

  2. Abrasive Ingredients: Mild abrasives like hydrated silica, calcium carbonate, or baking soda can assist in removing surface stains and plaque buildup without damaging the enamel.

  3. Antimicrobial Agents: Compounds such as zinc citrate can help inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth, reducing plaque formation and the risk of gum irritation.

Thankfully, NOBS Toothpaste Tablets contain all of these great ingredients without any controversial ones, such as fluoride or SLS.

Can I use fluoride free toothpaste instead?

A woman brushing her teeth

Yes, you can use fluoride free toothpaste if you prefer to avoid fluoride for personal reasons or if you have specific sensitivities.

Fluoride free toothpaste options are available and can still effectively clean your teeth and gums when used as part of a thorough oral hygiene routine including flossing and tongue scraping.

However, it's important to ensure that the fluoride free toothpaste you choose contains other ingredients that stimulate remineralization, like nano hydroxyapatite, to help prevent and reverse tooth decay.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is toothpaste harmful if swallowed?
Yes, toothpaste can be harmful if swallowed, especially if it contains fluoride. For this reason, it's important to stick to non-fluoridated toothpaste, such as nano-hydroxyapatite, especially for kids and pregnant women. Swallowing fluoride-containing toothpaste may lead to fluoride toxicity, which can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and in severe cases, even organ damage. Therefore, it's crucial to use toothpaste that is safe if ingested, particularly for those who may be more sensitive, such as children and expectant mothers.

Do dentists recommend toothpaste?
Yes, dentists do recommend toothpaste as part of a regular oral hygiene routine. However, it's important to note that not all toothpaste is created equal. Dentists increasingly advocate for the use of nano hydroxyapatite toothpaste over fluoride-based alternatives. Unlike fluoride, which may carry potential risks such as toxicity if ingested and sensitivity in some individuals, nano hydroxyapatite toothpaste offers effective cleaning and remineralization without adverse effects.  Therefore, dentists often recommend nHA toothpaste as a safer and more beneficial option, particularly for children, pregnant women, and those with sensitivities to fluoride.

Is it safe to use toothpaste?
Yes, using toothpaste for oral hygiene is generally safe. However, it's crucial to be cautious about ingredients such as fluoride, SLS, or charcoal, as they can cause issues if used excessively. Fluoride, despite its benefits in preventing tooth decay, can lead to fluorosis when overused. For those concerned about these ingredients, nano hydroxyapatite toothpaste serves as a suitable alternative. This natural mineral aids in enamel remineralization without associated risks. Therefore, while toothpaste is safe, it's essential to be mindful of its ingredients and consider alternatives like nano hydroxyapatite. Seeking personalized advice from a dentist is always recommended.

Do we really need to brush your teeth?
Yes! Brushing your teeth is essential for maintaining good oral hygiene and preventing issues like tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. It helps to remove plaque, bacteria, and food particles that can build up on your teeth and gums. Brushing twice a day, along with flossing, scraping and regular dental check-ups, is key to keeping your teeth and gums healthy.

Is it better to brush without toothpaste?
No, it's not better to brush without toothpaste. While brushing without toothpaste may remove bacteria and prevent inflammation to some extent, it won't effectively aid in remineralization or prevent tooth decay and cavities. Toothpaste contains essential ingredients like nano hydroxyapatite that help strengthen enamel and prevent dental issues. Therefore, using toothpaste is crucial for maintaining optimal oral health.


NOBS Toothpaste Tablets
NOBS Toothpaste Tablets
NOBS Toothpaste Tablets
NOBS Toothpaste Tablets
NOBS Toothpaste Tablets
NOBS Toothpaste Tablets
NOBS Toothpaste Tablets
NOBS Toothpaste Tablets
NOBS Toothpaste Tablets

NOBS Toothpaste Tablets

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NOBS is everything toothpaste should be - all the good stuff, and none of the junk.

Fluoride Free
Never any fluoride, and no harsh abrasives.

We used the magical remineralizing power of 5% nano-hydroxyapatite to protect your teeth long-term. It's the safest alternative to fluoride!

Unlike messy tube toothpaste, NOBS are easy to store and use anywhere.

Thanks to our unique blend of natural ingredients, NOBS will make your breath as fresh as you look. Instead of gross sweeteners that cover up a natural slightly bitter aftertaste, our organic mint will leave you so kissable. Trust us, your date will thank you.

Cleans Effectively Without Damaging Enamel

With an enviable RDA of 21.38, NOBS Toothpaste Tablets are intentionally designed to help you gently buff out surface stains and break up plaque biofilm without causing damage to your enamel. Thanks, baking soda!

Flex on TSA

NOBS toothpaste tablets don’t apply to the 3.4oz limit. Fly with confidence that you won’t be condemned to a dirty mouth while you travel.

No Mess

Never worry about your toothpaste tube exploding over your other toiletries. NOBS toothpaste tablets come in an air-tight glass jar, free of plastic and without the mess. Unscrew, chew, and renew your mouth.

No Plastic

We want you to disrupt your brushing routine, not your endocrine system. Unlike other brands, our product is free of all plastics and BPAs.

Perfect Size

NOBS toothpaste tablets are individual and perfectly dosed. No more squeezing, no more tube sliding against the edge of your sink and definitely no wasted toothpaste.

Safe for Children

Protecting little ones is our top priority. NOBS provides the safest oral care for pregnant women and their families. Just monitor and ensure that your child can chew and swallow safely before introducing them to NOBS.


This product is not suitable for pets. Humans only, please!

While xylitol is great for supporting the human oral microbiome, it can be toxic to pets. Please keep NOBS away from your furry friends, and contact your veterinarian immediately if consumed by your pet.

Fluoride Free Toothpaste Tablets

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