My patients often ask, “are there any ingredients that I should avoid when shopping for dental products?” The multitude of products and ingredients can be overwhelming, especially if you are shorn on time or you are trying to be “natural” or “organic” in the world today. While we are seeing more fluoride-free toothpastes, fluoride isn’t the greatest enemy when it comes to ingredients. In fact, fluoride is very effective when it comes to protecting your teeth from cavities, tartar, etc. However, I will leave you to weigh the pros and cons of fluoride toothpaste yourself. Today I’ll go over some other ingredients, which you may not have even heard of, yet they are used in many products, and you may want to treat them with caution.

Titanium Dioxide

While the common name is titanium dioxide, it is often referred to by its chemical name, titanium oxide. It is an odorless and colorless powder that is currently on the Right to Know Hazardous Substance List. It is a carcinogen, which is dangerous for the lungs and eyes when ingested. Titanium dioxide is also suspected of crossing the skin barrier when applied to injured skin, which means that it can go in your blood stream. It is banned in Europe and other parts of the world. However, it made its way to many foods that we consume (such as M&M’s until recently) as well as toothpaste. Although it is FDA-approved in toothpaste specifically, this ingredient is controversial, and I would avoid it if possible.

Artificial Coloring

Unfortunately, artificial coloring is almost everywhere nowadays. Artificial food dyes have been linked to many terrible health ailments, such as hyperactivity, including ADHD, behavioral changes like irritability and depression, hives, asthma, and tumor growth (three of the primary food dyes contain benzene, a known cancer-causing substance). Yet foods such as cereal, ice-cream, candy, and toaster pastries contain all 6 of the most used artificial food colors (Blue 1, Blue 2, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, & Yellow 6). Watch out for these in dental products as well!


This is another controversial one because it is FDA-approved and it does have some benefits, such as supposedly preventing gingivitis through its antibacterial properties. However, triclosan has been shown to interfere with hormones, contribute to antibiotic resistance, and kill gut health. Unfortunately, many toothpastes still contain this ingredient.

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)

SLS has been used as a foaming agent in toothpastes since the 1930s. Contrary to popular belief, it does NOT cause cancer. That was a hoax that was disproven. However, it can be harmful nonetheless, especially for people with sensitive tooth or gums. SLS adversely affects the protective mucus layer that lines the mouth. It was found to cause “desquamation” which is a sloughing off or peeling of the topmost layers of the inside lining of the mouth. No wonder SLS might make canker sores worse.

Bleaching Products

Many conventional whitening toothpastes/ strips, etc. contain abrasives and bleaching agents such as silica, pyrophosphates, hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Although they are effective at removing stains, thereby lightening the teeth color, these ingredients can strip your enamel and induce damage to the tooth surface. Many rinses, for example, can present a low pH, with an erosive potential. I recommend staying away from teeth bleaching products altogether.

Additionally, make sure the product you choose has an ADA seal of acceptance. The seal is rooted in science, and it ensures that a product has gone through testing in order to be approved. Remember that the most important step of your dental hygiene and health is seeing your dentist regularly. I am Dr. Onatsky, and I am happy to assist you with all your oral health needs. Call today to schedule an appointment: 718-621-0827. Onatsky Dental Clinic is located at 2960 Ocean Ave., 1st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11235. We look forward to seeing you!