Green Beauty: do herbal toothpastes work well?

I’ll admit upfront that I know very little about dental care but I’ve been toying with the idea of switching to a herbal toothpaste recently. The only thing that is holding me back is, there aren’t that many herbal toothpastes available on the store shelves here, and this is not an item I feel compelled to incur shipping cost for. But perhaps more importantly, I wonder if it’s all that wise to switch to one that is fluoride free.

Too much fluoride is bad
Okay, I know fluoride is toxic, at least too much of it. But it’s a common ingredient found in conventional toothpastes to help remove plaque, and prevent tooth decay by strengthening the tooth enamel. Most herbal toothpastes do not include fluoride and they do have a valid health case for it. According to the Ministry of Health here, too much fluoride can cause enamel fluorosis, a discoloration or mottling of the permanent teeth. And in Singapore and other developed countries, fluoride is already added to the water supply.

Singapore is the first country in Asia to institute a comprehensive fluoridation programme which covers 100 per cent of the population. The water was fluoridated at 0.7 ppm fluoride using sodium silicofluoride. The ten year study on the effects of water fluoridation in Singapore showed a decrease in caries prevalence in the children. In the permanent dentition the reduction was 52.3 per cent for Chinese and 31 per cent for Malays in the 7 to 9 year old age group. A similar trend was observed in the mixed dentition in which the decrease was 32.5 per cent for Chinese and 30.6 per cent for Malays. Because of the availability and use of other fluoride products, dental fluorosis was observed in children in later years. (source)

Toothpaste market regulation
Still, we are always recommended to use toothpastes containing fluoride and I don’t believe the toothpastes in our market are being regulated as strictly as those in US, where the FDA has established a number of regulations relating to the required testing procedures before the toothpaste may be marketed.

Natural alternative
Herbal toothpastes are attractive because of they are always promoted to be healthier since they are ‘more natural’ as they do not include artificial sweeteners, flavorings, colorings or preservatives. Well, not all ingredients are natural; sodium lauryl sulfate is one that I spotted in this herbal toothpaste featured in the picture so you have to check the label. However, such products would have included various natural ingredients such as neem, fennel, tea tree, basil, peppermint, and others which the manufacturers claim are able to prevent tooth decay. In my research, I haven’t found that many clinical research to prove their effectiveness except for a handful of studies that supported the clinical efficacy of herbal toothpaste in reducing gingivitis and plaque, such these dated 19911998, and 2011. So I’m really wondering if it’s worthwhile to switch to herbal toothpastes given these data; I certainly don’t want to brush my teeth with all the herbal ingredients only to find my teeth weakened at the end of a month!

Share your thoughts
Perhaps those who have used or are using herbal toothpastes can give me your opinion. What brand of toothpaste are you using? How long have you been using it and how has it been for your teeth?


  1. Miss Vinny says:

    Auromere: it isn’t too bad and it helps to keep my teeth fresh and also, helps fight off tooth sensitivity. The only bad things are: it isn’t always that effective, so I swap it with my regular toothpaste. Also, I don’t think it’s sold locally.

  2. xin says:

    I have never tried herbal toothpaste and i have been using darlie or colgate whole of my life, i am not sure what’s the degree of damage fluoride can cause but i like the idea of minty brush in the morning and at night ?
    p/s: i don’t quite like neem as its found in most of the herbal products

  3. Mandy says:

    I use the one sold in Bud. Logona mineral toothpaste i think (lazy to run and check). I asked my dentist if its bad cuz it doesn’t have fluoride and he said it doesn’t matter as long as my dental hygiene is there i.e. brushing properly.

  4. fwy says:

    I had been using Darlie my whole life, I don’t see the need to change yet. Moreover, I do not have sensitive teeth.

  5. fwy says:

    I chanced upon this Korean skin care brand over lunch at Wisma Atria. Belif. The website states their products are free of Mineral oil, Synthetic fragrance, Synthetic dyes, Synthetic preservatives, Animal-origin ingredients. However, I am not sure if this product is considered natural or organic.

  6. Jyoan says:

    I have not heard of heard of herbal toothpaste before. This is a good introduction to it.

    But personally, I don’t quite believe in weird toothpastes because no matter how they tweek it, nothing seems to make a difference. I’ve just finished 3 types of Sensodyne toothpastes, and none of them relieves sensitive gums, helped whitened my teeth or whatnot.

    It always ends up that I use the most original of the original again. I just stick to Colgate and Darlie. Everything feels the same.

  7. sesame says:

    I used to use Darlie but now I use Colgate and I find my teeth are whiter. Or maybe because I’ve stopped during tea for awhile.

  8. sesame says:

    When you say it isn’t always effective, what do you mean? It doesn’t clean as well? Cos I’m wondering if I should get one and then alternate with my regular toothpaste.

  9. sesame says:

    Have you tried neem oil…oh the smell! >.<

  10. sesame says:

    I don’t think I’ve seen that one before. But glad your dentist gave his okay…most of them still recommend fluoride based toothpaste to me.

  11. sesame says:

    I was using Darlie for many years, since a child but in recent years, switched to Colgate. When I was having sensitive teeth, I used Oral B.

  12. sesame says:

    You can say it’s in the natural category but that doesn’t mean all ingredients are natural…possibly a higher % compared to other competing brands. Got to check the ingredients to know for sure. EcoCare sold in some Guardian pharmacies is pretty natural…I’m now using the facial cleanser and it’s not bad.

  13. HKLights says:

    Sesame, thanks for the article on an important topic.

    I use a toothpaste (“Salutem”, purchased from Europe) with 9.9 percent Xylitol and 4.0 percent Betaine.

    Xylitol stops the teeth enamel from eroding due to too much acidity in the mouth after a meal, but you also need to keep your teeth clean of food remains (by brushing & dental floss) immediately after each meal (regardless of what type of toothpaste you use, but in my opinion, NOBODY should use toxic fluoride).

    Betaine, another natural ingredient in the toothpaste, moisturizes and protects the mucous membranes in the mouth until next meal.

    And yes, I also filter my tap water from the added fluoride with a water purification system, whenever I’m in Singapore.

    For whiter teeth, the best natural toothpaste I’ve experienced has been mixture of baking soda, water, and a pinch of salt (I think I read that recipe somewhere on this website ? )

  14. Miss Vinny says:

    Ah somehow, it’s my mouth. It tends to get bad breath at times and sticking to just 1 toothpaste doesn’t always work. Gotta alternate, yes.

    Same with tooth sensitivity. Using Fresh and White is good but doesn’t work out in the long term. So, I alternate.

    And I hate Sensodyne or Pronamel… both made my teeth sensitivity so much worse… ugh.

  15. HKLights says:

    …a word of warning though, if somebody orders Salutem from an online shop, as there are two types of these products with the same name, the other containing fluoride, the other not.

  16. claire says:

    I use a Malaysian Brand BMS organics. It’s a chain organic mart which has their housebrand toothpaste in bamboo charcoal and aloe vera. I’ve been using it for at least 1/2 a year and results are pretty good. It doesn’t foam excessively like commercial tooth pastes. But I like how the formulation is simple and it serves its function well.

    Once I ran out, I went by Dragon Dor to get Jason’s Powersmile toothpaste which acts totally like regular commercial toothpaste. Great foaming and very minty. However, it was super ex at $13.90 for a regular sized tube :/ too expensive for me. It worked really well though.

    Toothpaste is really important as we tend to ingest some into our system plus it’s part of oral care. I do think it’s good to turn to all natural for toothpaste. I changed to natural toothpaste as I read up that fluoride might irritate the throat especially for people with thyroid issues like my bf.

  17. Miss Vinny says:

    Isn’t baking soda very abrasive? I remember housewives using it for cleaning and wouldn’t put that on my teeth! I’ve heard it actually wears down the enamel over time.

  18. Mandy says:

    What kind of water filter system do you use when in Singapore? Last I googled it seems the filtration for fluoride is a complex one and requires a really expensive filter.

  19. sesame says:

    HKLights: I’ve seen Xylitol in a number of toothpastes…maybe I’ll go check those out again. I am actually more concerned about fluoride for my kid than for myself so perhaps I’ll do a switch soon for his sake.

    Yes! I wrote about baking soda but I mentioned I used it with toothpaste to cut down on the abrasion…the salt and water would help but the taste is well err…not something I like. ?

  20. sesame says:

    I see…I tried Sensodyne and didn’t like the taste…weird I think but my hubby used it for sensitive teeth. For awhile I was using Oral B. Never tried Fresh and White though.

  21. sesame says:

    Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll have a look at them and yes, $13.90 is ex! But I think I should change, at least for my boy cos like you said, we do ingest some and particularly so for children. I was using a natural toothpaste for him when he was a baby but has since changed to regular ones like Kodomo kids range, etc but those attract so many ants and I got him to use our Colgate instead.

  22. sesame says:

    Miss Vinny: Yes, you’re right that it’s abrasive and I would not recommend using daily but some people with less sensitive gums seem to find it okay for regular use. But it does help whitening.

  23. Anita says:

    I just recently switched to a herbal toothpaste from Weleda, because I suffered from a mild perioral dermatitis. And I heared that fluorid might by a trigger for PD. I am using it since 2 months now and my PD is noticable better now. I am not sure if the toothpaste made the difference. But it didn’t get worse .. and thats important to me.

  24. sesame says:

    Thanks for sharing this…so fluoride is indeed an issue! I’ll check out Weleda…we have the brand here but I’m not sure if they have brought in toothpaste.

  25. Anita says:

    They got quite a few! .. I got the green one for delicate gums.

  26. sesame says:

    Thanks for letting me know. I suppose some of the organic stores here may sell them. Hope to find them or I might have to try ordering from iHerb.

  27. Bee says:

    I once used a organic toothpaste from the brand “Blütezeit”, I think it is only available in Germany, but I didn’t have any bad experiences with the toothpaste. My teeth were clean and the formula is mild. There are also toothpastes from the brand “lavera”, I haven’t tried it yet, but people say it is good.

  28. sesame says:

    I’m using one from Logona now. Hope to try others and review them in time.

  29. Len says:

    I was told by a friend recently that if you stop using something like baking soda or fluoride on your teeth then they will be missing that.
    But I’ve heard fluoride has many negative effects from studies done.
    Well, I just go without it. I find natural toothpastes work well for me.
    Ginger always give a good clean. Anyhow, your teeth mainly rely on internal care and your saliva.

  30. sesame says:

    Oh, very exciting…I just bought myself like 4 natural toothpastes to try. Some of them are quite powerful! Surprise!

  31. ai says:

    I read a lot about the harmful effects of fluoride, including the fact that it may be carcinogenic. I am currently using a herbal toothpaste from Taiwan, which doesn’t have fluoride. I also tried a herbal tooth powder from India (bought from those Little India stores) – my former Indian colleague swore by it for her shiny white teeth, however she warned me that its taste is not for everyone, and true enough, it’s definitely not the most pleasing taste. One of my dental routine during weekends (when I have more time) is to do oil pulling. Oil pulling is an old Ayurveda process. My teeth feels extremely clean afterwards, liken a trip to the dentist. Supposedly, other than white teeth, pinker gums and healthier looking tongue, it has some amazing health benefits too. I switch out the oil every time — between (cold pressed) EVOO, VCO, Sesame oil, etc — for different benefits.

  32. sesame says:

    I read about this oil pulling and am very curious about it. It also sounds very intriguing but I understand some pple cannot take to the effects – like dizzy spells or something?

  33. ai says:

    Yupe, the dizzy spells is part of the “healing crisis” or the Herx/die off effects. Not everyone who oil pulls experiences a healing crisis, but it is fairly common. When I first started oil pulling, tons of mucus/phlegm was purged out, as the body is going through some detox. The Herx effects didn’t get too serious for me. While the die-off effects is a good sign, it’s also a sign to take it slow. However don’t give up! It just means that oil pulling is drawing out toxins that have been hiding in the body. When these are brought out, they can make one feel a little worse before you get better. Once the body is cleared of these toxins, some people can begin to see remarkable improvements in their health on top of great dental benefits. I do oil pulling purely for dental purposes that’s why I only do it on the weekends. Also, I don’t want to over detox myself as I was doing liver/gallbladder cleanse not too long ago.

  34. sesame says:

    Wow, you’re very adventurous in this area! I’m still very puzzled as to how this whole oil pulling is done but I suppose I can find out through a search on the Net.

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