My first mistake was going to the co-op when I hadn’t done my research.
Earlier that day, I squeezed the last of our Aquafresh out of the tube and I knew that I couldn’t come home without a new tube of something. But what?
I did some cursory research on my lunch break: why does toothpaste work? What’s the deal with fluoride? What’s the difference between organic toothpaste and non-organic toothpaste?
It turns out that the physical activity of brushing your teeth is more important than what exactly is in the toothpaste. Still, organic toothpastes use certified organic ingredients.
There are a lot of posts about fluoride on the internet that claim that we’re ingesting too much fluoride to be beneficial, and that it’s giving us all cancer. As someone who grew up with very good drinking water that was also treated with fluoride, I’m not opposed to fluoride.
My teeth are very strong, and I’ve had maybe two cavities in my entire life. Is this because I had fluoride in my water? Maybe, maybe not, but I’m not concerned about it in any case. Paris’ water has a very small amount of fluoride in it, so in any case, I’m likely getting less than I ever was.
I wanted to choose a toothpaste that was different than one of the big brands. I’ve had trouble with irritation from “whitening” and “freshening” particles in popular toothpastes before, so I’m no stranger to long contemplation in the toothpaste aisle.
I had just never tried to switch while on a time constraint and without very many criteria beyond something organic, minty, and not exorbitantly expensive.
I ended up with Logodent’s “bio peppermint” toothpaste. Bio is the French expression for organic, but not all of the ingredients in this toothpaste are marked organic.
I should have known it would have been “organic-ish,” because upon further inspection, this is the same brand that makes the “organic-ish” shampoo that I’ve found to be deeply unsatisfying…
The ingredients are as follows :
Aqua (Water), Calcium Carbonate, Glycerin, Silica, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Maris Sal (Sea Salt), Xylitol, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract*, Xanthan Gum, Algin, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil*, Aroma (Flavour), Limonene
This toothpaste scored a 2 on Skin Deep’s safety scale, and I clicked through to figure out if I’d bought a toothpaste that was basically just like one of the brands I’d tried to avoid.
As it turns out, it’s not.
The reason it scores a 2, as opposed to a 1, is because the last ingredient on the list “flavour,” which is apparently from “natural essential oils,” gives the Skin Deep scale a pause. Unlabeled flavours, even from natural sources, are a little weird, but I still peeled off the safety sticker and spread some toothpaste on my toothbrush.
I started to brush my teeth, and…
It tasted like poison.
My entire body cringed when the taste of the toothpaste hit my tongue. The same kind of primal sensation that steers you away from bitter foods as a child was ringing alarm bells in my head : THIS IS BAD GET IT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH.
I kept brushing. I wanted to cry. I wouldn’t normally cry about toothpaste I’ve been stressed, ok?
I had told E that I wouldn’t pick a terrible tasting toothpaste, and without knowing it, I’d brought home something that tasted unusable.
I spit and rinsed relatively quickly, and ran my tongue over my teeth. I hadn’t brushed long enough to feel clean. Instead of going to bed and accepting that I would just get a new tube of something with a familiar, commercial minty-ness in the morning, I tried again.
I’m an adult, and I bought this thing, and I’m not going to waste it just because it is gross.
5 or so days later, my opinion has shifted. It took me quite a few brushings to get used to this toothpaste, but the more I use it, the less terrible it tastes. Is it my favourite mouth-feel? No. Will I be looking for something a little sweeter next time? Probably.
But, for the moment, my foray into organic-ish toothpastes is not a total wash. I see my dentist in a few months, and she’ll be the true test of whether a switch from commercial to organic-ish is as good for my mouth as it is for the environment.