Buying guide for Toothpaste products
What to look for
Choose products made with ingredients that carry no or low health concerns, as assigned by the GoodGuide Science Team. Look for products that are certified sustainable by Cradle-to-Cradle or as compliant with the standards set by EcoLogo or the Natural Products Association for personal care products. Avoid purchasing products that include ingredients with medium or high health concerns, and regulatory bans.
The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day. According to a recent consumer survey, about 25% of Americans use toothpaste four times each day. Because of the frequent use and slight change of ingestion, toothpaste products can contribute to chronic exposure to low levels of potential hazards.
Some issues associated with toothpaste products include:
Health concerns — Toothpaste ingredients can carry human health concerns. Products with a lower GoodGuide Rating include ingredients like Propylene Glycol that are suspected of causing toxicity to respiratory, skin and sense organs, and suspected carcinogens like Titanium Dioxide.
Ingredient disclosure — Complete ingredient lists for shaving cream products are often unavailable, creating a significant barrier to assessing the safety of personal care products. Although companies are required to disclose the ingredients in personal care products, these lists rarely contain information about percent composition (needed to assess potential exposures) and often rely on generic terms which make it impossible to assess whether there are any problematic ingredients present.
Contamination concerns — The Food and Drug Administration only requires cosmetic firms to list “intended” ingredients in products, which allows manufacturers to hide the presence of other ingredients from consumers.
Inadequate regulation — Personal care products are not subject to safety reviews by the FDA before they are put on the market, and the agency is frequently criticized for its lax approach to regulation. The European Union, for example, has banned the use of more than 1,000 substances in cosmetics; in contrast, the FDA has only prohibited the use of eight substances in cosmetics. There is widespread skepticism that the current regulatory system is sufficiently protective of human health.
Rating Toothpaste products
To rate a personal care product, GoodGuide considers the following attributes:
- A health hazard rating based on the number of product ingredients categorized as low, medium or high health concern;
- Indicators that the product exhibits other negative aspects (e.g., does the product contain ingredients that have been banned or subjected to regulatory restrictions);
- Indicators that the product is among the best on the market in its category (e.g., has the product been certified as safe or healthy by a credible third-party);
- Indicators of data gaps that preclude evaluation of the product (e.g., no or inadequate disclosure of product ingredients).
Categorizing ingredients by levels of health concern
Defining Levels of Health: In order to identify ingredients of health concern, we utilize the science of health hazard assessment and rely on lists of chemicals labeled hazardous by various authoritative organizations. GoodGuide tracks whether chemicals are recognized or suspected of causing any of twelve major types of human health problems, ranging from cancer to endocrine toxicity to skin or eye toxicity. We combine this hazard data with chemical potency, human detection frequency and toxicity testing information, in order to assign ingredients to four levels of health concern: none, low, medium and high.