Toothpaste Turmoil

By Nora Simmons

Find yourself standing perplexed in the middle of the toothpaste aisle, trying to find brands that don’t contain harmful chemicals like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)? Jot down the following guidelines before you return to the store.

Got sensitive teeth?
•Look for alkalizing agents such as baking soda, Co-Q10, and aloe vera, which reduce inflammation in the mouth and soothe irritated gums.
•Avoid SLS, which can dry out your mouth and may cause canker sores, says Harold Katz, DDS. Also steer clear of sugar (marked on the ingredients label as sucrose or glucose) and alcohol.
•We like SLS-free Natural Sensitive Care from Tom’s of Maine, which uses potassium nitrate and aloe to soothe sensitive teeth and gums. $5.99, 4 oz;

Want a brighter smile?
•Look for natural abrasives made from peelu or diatomaceous earth (soft sediment), which will gently remove stains without harming tooth enamel.
•Avoid hydrogen peroxide and glycerin, which are drying and can lead to tooth sensitivity. Also stay away from harsh abrasives, such as sand, chalk, or alumina.
•We like Peelu Toothpaste which uses the natural fibers of the Indian peelu tree to safely brighten your smile. $5, 7oz;

Need extra tartar control?
•Look for xylitol. This natural sugar fights and even heals developing cavities by stopping the growth of the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Also look for Co-Q10, which has been shown to heal and prevent gingivitis, as well as gum-soothing aloe.
•Avoid fluoride, a common ingredient in tartar control and cavity-fighting toothpastes. Once you’re 25, fluoride no longer strengthens enamel, says Katz.
•We like Kiss My Face Tartar Control. Combining xylitol, Co-Q10, aloe, and olive-leaf extract, this toothpaste helps prevent cavities while boosting your whole-mouth health. $5.99, 4.3 oz;