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Q. I am trying to reduce waste (like any diligent Grist reader), and one item I can't find in a recyclable or reusable container is toothpaste. Are there any toothpastes that come in recyclable containers and aren't made by big companies and full of chemicals? I've considered making my own paste from baking soda, but then there's no fluoride. How important is that?
Menlo Park, Calif.
A. Dearest Rachelle,
We’ve come a long way since the days of cleaning our choppers with crushed twigs and bones, but that doesn’t mean we’ve figured out everything when it comes to eco-oral hygiene. Your question addresses two issues, Rachelle: the toothpaste itself, and the tube it comes in. Let’s brush up on the former first. Environmentally and healthfully speaking, what’s the best way to keep our teeth clean?
The medical establishment is pretty much unanimous on this one: You want to brush your teeth at least twice daily with an American Dental Association-approved toothpaste. The ADA conducts gold-standard testing to ensure a given goop actually follows up on its claims to protect those pearly whites -- and brands that pass muster get an ADA seal on the package. Easy, right?
Well, not so fast: An ADA seal doesn’t necessarily mean a tube is free of potentially worrisome chemical ingredients.