There’s only one thing better than a bright, happy smile: keeping that grin clean the natural way. Oral hygiene is an important part of the natural market since customers want to keep their teeth shiny, gums healthy and breath fresh. In addition to offering natural oral care products in your personal care aisles, tell shoppers how their diets can help keep their dental hygiene fresh. Calcium and vitamin D are important to keep teeth strong while magnesium can help prevent swollen gums (1).
The natural oral health care market is growing at an incredible rate. As natural and organic health care products are becoming more widely distributed, more people are realizing their many benefits over many traditional products.
Why Go Natural?
Shoppers often turn to natural oral care products because they generally contain fewer chemicals than conventional products. Many popular toothpastes contain chemicals such as saccharin and triclosan. These, among other artificial sweeteners and preservatives, can be hazardous in large quantities or if overused (2). Rather than chemically enhanced pastes and gels, more people have been considering their natural alternatives.
One area that has diverging support among natural products enthusiasts is the use of fluoride in oral care products. Some shoppers want to avoid them altogether because the ingestion of fluoride has been linked to health problems. Others see a benefit in cavity protection and fighting tooth decay. Retailers may be best served by offering a full variety to meet consumers’ needs.
You Don’t Have to Sacrifice Your Sweet Tooth
While older natural oral care products had a bad-wrap for their chalky, less-sweet taste, the market has been welcoming many new, great-tasting choices coming in flavors like spearmint, cinnamon and peppermint. Some natural toothpastes even offer whitening components; these products use ingredients such as bamboo powder and silica, rather than lye, which is in many commercial whitening solutions (2).
Only the Cleanest Ingredients
There are a number of ingredients used in natural oral hygiene products to give the same impact as the chemicals used in their conventional counterparts. Xylitol, for example, is used very frequently. It works to stop bacteria from creating the acids that destroy teeth as well as aiding in the mineralization of tooth enamel. Xylitol also has a naturally cool, sweet flavor and, like all sweeteners, increases salivary flow, which improves the mouth’s pH level, making it a great addition to toothpastes (3).
Neem is another ingredient used in natural dental products. It has been shown to lessen the growth and accumulation of bacteria on teeth (4). Neem also has antimicrobial properties that help prevent plaque buildup and gingivitis, while its antiseptic components work to fight tooth decay and sore gums (5).
Baking soda, a substance commonly associated with freshness and cleanliness, is also used in many natural oral care products. It has been shown that using a toothpaste containing baking soda can significantly lower plaque buildup (6).
Aloe vera has also been becoming a popular choice in natural oral care products. It is believed to cut down on cavity-causing bacteria and is considered a less harsh substance than those used in conventional toothpastes (7).
Another natural choice for oral hygiene is green tea. Some studies have shown that the antioxidants in green tea enhance the health of teeth and gums, along with decreasing the chances of periodontal disease (8).
There are numerous other assorted components used in natural dental products. For example, mint and thymol are used to fight tooth sensitivity, the antioxidant CoQ10 is employed to help keep gums healthy, tea tree oil is said to offer antiseptic properties and the fiber peelu is added to products to clean teeth (2).
Tools of the Trade
Along with toothpastes, there are many other natural oral care products on the market. Natural flosses and mouthwashes are also available. Floss made with cranberry, tea tree or myrrh can help fight bacteria. Natural dental care tools like dental picks made with neem and essential oil can be used throughout the day to help remove plaque buildup after meals (1). WF
1. K. Gardner, “Keep Smiling with Natural Dental Care,” Taste for Life,www.tasteforlife.com/spa-and-beauty/natural-beauty/keep-smiling-natural-dental-care, accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
2. S. Vartan, “The Natural Smile: New Toothpastes Clean without the Chemicals,” E: The Environmental Magazine, Jan-Feb 2003, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1594/is_1_14/ai_96195514, accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
3. “Information for Dental Professionals,” www.xylitol.org/dental-info-about-xylitol, accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
4. L.E. Wolinsky, et al., “The Inhibiting Effect of Aqueous Azadirachta Indica (Neem) Extract upon Bacterial Properties Influencing In Vitro Plaque Formation,” J. Dent. Res. 75 (2), 816–822 (1996).
5. “Neem Benefits in Nature Cure Treatment,”www.naturalhealthcure.org/healing-medicinal-herbs/neem-benefits-treatment-uses.html, accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
6. A. Ghassenu et al., “A Four-Week Clinical Study to Evaluate and Compare the Effectiveness of a Baking Soda Dentifrice and an Antimicrobial Dentifrice in Reducing Plaque,” J. Clin. Dent. 19 (4), 120–126 (2008).
7. S. Pitman, “Aloe Vera Gets Thumbs Up As Natural Oral Care Ingredient,” www.cosmeticsdesign.com/Formulation-Science/Aloe-vera-gets-thumbs-up-as-natural-oral-care-ingredient, July 28, 2009, accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
8. American Academy of Periodontology, “Green Tea for Healthy Teeth and Gums” release distributed Mar. 9, 2010, http://periodontist.org/green-tea-for-healthy-teeth-and-gums, accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
Meghan Coates is a freelance writer based in Clinton, NJ.
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, June 2011