Toothpaste: hazardous to dental and bodily health?
Toothpaste ingredients which could harm your teeth, gums or body
Standard or conventional toothpastes though claimed to be THE products to use for best care of your teeth, actually have numerous drawbacks - similar to other synthetic blessings showered upon humanity, many of which have turned out to be harmful to health and damaging to the environment. Here is a (not necessarily complete) list, complemented by two powerful testimonials illustrating the potentially dramatic benefits to teeth and gums gained from switching from conventional chemical-laced toothpaste to an approach using natural and non-toxic "biocompatible" ingredients for dental cleaning.
Ingredients found in various conventional toothpastes which might damage your health
Toxins such as fluoride, Triclosan etc.
Triclosan. Conventional toothpastes, among other toxins, can contain Triclosan, a chemical germ killer/antibacterial (also found in mouthwashes, deodorants, soaps, clothing. pesticides etc. - as well as in the urine of people who use such products). Triclosan belongs to a class of chemicals suspected of causing cancer in humans (even the US EPA is currently  reevaluating the risks posed by triclosan) - an October 2015 search of the PubMed database at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/ (which only publishes scientifically validated research) for the terms "triclosan cancer" yielded 57 studies investigating or touching upon a possible connection. Stored in bodily fat, it can suppress immune function and accumulate to toxic levels with resultant liver, kidney and lung damage. Triclosan is frequently contaminated with toxic dioxins and is generally an environmental pollutant.
Polyethylene glycols (PEG, added as a dispersant and to bind water) make the skin more pervious to noxious substances possibly containing bromine, iodine or chlorine, and are considered allergenic and/or potentially cancerogenic.
Fluoride, a highly toxic chemical, rather than helping teeth, seems to actually damage teeth by making them too hard and thus brittle. Also be aware that fluoride in its chemical form as used in water fluoridation is seriously implicated in cancer causation and can actually "ruin teeth".1
Fluoridated toothpaste damages gums. At the concentrations used in commercial fluoridated toothpaste (1,000 ppm), fluoride causes gum damage by poisoning enzyme activity and slowing down the gums' self-repair mechanisms. By brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste, you gums will suffer damage (according to Dr. John Yiamouyiannis, an authority on fluoride's biological effects, and corroborated by a number of research studies reporting increased gingivitis and gum inflammation caused by fluoridated water consumption or other fluoride sources).2
According to scientific research conducted by the pharmaceutical company Sepracor (now Sunovion Pharmaceuticals) in 1996, topical fluoride application (fluoridated toothpaste, mouthwashes etc.) may cause or exacerbate periodontal bone loss by activating "G proteins" and thus promoting gingivitis, chronic, destructive periodontitis, and even cancer of the oral cavity (involving "mutated" G proteins being activated by fluoride).
According to J. Lee et al. (published in Toxicology in January 2008, pp. 340–347), sodium fluoride is cytotoxic (harms/kills living cells) and produces an inflammatory response.
People with implants (not recommended, see Potential risks of dental implant surgery) made of titanium have yet another problem with fluoridated toothpaste: tests using artificial saliva made of sodium chloride and oxalic acid showed a strong increase in titanium release when fluoride was added to the saliva solution6, i.e. brushing with fluoridated toothpaste (in fact using any fluoridated product) leads to high(er) release and hence absorption of titanium (TI can trigger many ailments, see case histories on the above page).
Additionally, German toxicity expert Prof. Max Daunderer warns that amalgam from dental fillings is corroded by fluorine (including from fluoridated toothpaste and fluoridated salt). According to Daunderer, fluoride is strictly forbidden for mercury amalgam carriers since fluoride produces mercury(II) fluoride which is able to penetrate into the brain and cause brain damage.
To help the body detoxify fluoride, increasing iodine levels has been found very helpful.
If you have ingested a lot of toxic fluoride (and there are, in addition to fluoridated dental "care" products, many other sources such as fluoridated water and any products grown or made with it, salt, milk, etc.4, you may wish to inform yourself about increasing your intake of iodine. Higher iodine levels in the body can help the system to excrete toxic halogens such as fluoride and bromine in the urine (this has been systematically measured and verified).
If you use seaweed as your iodine source (generally, the use of iodised salt will not raise an iodine-deficient body's levels to a sufficient degree), you simultaneously ingest one of the richest sources of all known minerals and trace elements.
Caveat: Be aware that iodine supplementation can be a two-edged sword. While it has tremendously benefited the health of a number of individuals, others (clearly a minority - but nevertheless) apparently have been seriously damaged. So inform yourself thoroughly about the pros and cons before considering applying iodine DIY.
Surfactants (added as foaming agents). Studies have shown that toothpastes which produce a lot of lather due to the presence of the toxic chemical (detergent surfactant) sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS, aka sodium dodecyl sulfate or SDS) are actually bad for the gums. The foaming property strongly swells up the gums, which would tend to promote periodontitis (receding gums). (Other sources speak of surfactant concentrations above two percent possibly damaging the gums.)
Alternative dentist Dr. Georg Schnitzer writes that surfactants also increase the permeability of the capillaries and thus are a frequent cause of bleeding gums. Hermann Lauffer, author of "Unsere Zähne Opfer der Zivilisation" (Our Teeth Victims of Civilisation) adds that the softening of the gums increases their propensity to infection.
It would be best to use toothpaste without any surfactants, such as salt-based toothpastes (translated by © Healing Teeth Naturally from German sources). Or probably better, use toothpaste alternatives.
Additionally, sodium lauryl sulfate was found to cause the recurrence of aphthous ulcers (canker sores)5 and to diminish the perception of sweetness (for the latter see abstract under http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/bk-1985-0289.ch002).
According to Dr. Hulda Clark, toothpaste besides benzene pollution also contains tin and strontium. Compare Dr. Hulda Clark's instructions for brushing teeth and natural mouth care. Even aluminium can be found in toothpaste.
In spite of being cariogenic with prolonged use (according to research done by dentists at Hamburg university), sorbitol can be found as a sweetener in certain toothpastes.
What all such sugars apparently do is lower the pH of the dental plaque (more acidity = more damage to the tooth). If you find aspartame, be aware that it is toxic and has been connected to dozens of diseases incl. brain tumors.3
Dr. Joel Knapp DDS writes on the subject of chemicals found in many toothpastes, "I tell my patients, if you can't pronounce it, don't put it in your body. ... you'll sometimes see artificial sugars listed, too. These artificial sugars have been shown in some studies to cause changes in the tissue cells, and to slow down healing as much as sugar can and possibly more. We tell them to avoid toothpaste - to use baking soda, salt or just plain water."
According to Dr. Gerald F. Judd's research, it is very important to avoid all toothpastes containing glycerin since for teeth to be able to remineralize, the tooth surface needs to be clean and "accessible". This would be prevented, however, by glycerin which covers the surface with a sticky and hard-to-remove substance. (These findings are controversial, however; and likely don't stand up to closer scrutiny.) More on the glycerin issue
Other possibly questionable and/or damaging toothpaste ingredients
Besides those already mentioned, nearly all commercial toothpastes contain mixes of numerous additional chemicals including synthetic flavours, laureth sulfate, phosphates, titanium dioxide, propylene glycol, sodium benzoate, sodium cocoyl, alcohol, thickeners, artificial coloring agents / dyes, solvents etc. Additionally, most toothpastes contain abrasive particles (i.e. particles which are not water-soluble - basically "grit") designed to make them lightly to highly abrasive, and are thus able to contribute to or exacerbate gum recession and enamel abrasion.7
Why toxins in toothpaste are particularly dangerous to health
It is frequently advised to administer certain supplements or medications (methylcobalamin / B12, homeopathic remedies etc.) by placing them under the tongue or slowly dissolving them in the mouth. This is because the oral cavity and mucosa are richly provided with lymphatic vessels (such as the lingual tonsils), so the active ingredients of the medicinal substances are directly absorbed into the circulation, bypassing both the intestinal tract and the liver. While this effect is desirable with remedies, the same "near-instant absorption" mechanism works against us when we take toxic substances into the mouth, and is particularly dangerous with children who tend to swallow some of the toothpaste during brushing.
1 Compare this powerful testimonial showing how simple brushing with salt water healed cavities that had formed while religiously using fluoride toothpaste and A personal abscess/swollen gum story (2): rotten molar & fluoride.
2 For important background on fluoride, see eg On water and toothpaste fluoridation: "Fluoride ruins teeth".
3 Compare Causes of cancer: aspartame.
4 See the list on this page showing the variety of products which can contain fluoride, at least when you live in a country such as the US which allows fluoridation of the water supply.
5 Compare Canker sores (aphtous ulcers or stomatitis): possible causes, natural and home remedies.
6 Compare the 2013 study "The effect of fluoride ions on the corrosion behaviour of Ti metal, and Ti6-Al-7Nb and Ti-6Al-4V alloys in artificial saliva" at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24169708 .
7 Compare Toothpaste abrasiveness index.
8 See e.g. "Growth and migration of LNCaP prostate cancer cells are promoted by triclosan and benzophenone-1 via an androgen receptor signaling pathway" at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25682003 .
While these may be less or even non-toxic, I've read that a well-known 'holistic' toothpaste contains the toxic chemical sodium lauryl sulfate (see Surfactants). Bottom line: read your labels very carefully or preferably, go for one or several of the toothpaste alternatives.
Dramatic dental healing benefits gained from using natural, non-toxic or "biocompatible" cleaning agents & antimicrobials
The presence of the above-described tooth and gum toxins (fluoride, surfactants etc.) in conventional toothpaste may explain the following two dramatic "miracle" gum healing testimonials (both involving advanced periodontosis with loss of several teeth): all signs of chronic gum disease quickly and completely cleared up upon discontinuation of normal toothpaste and adoption of simple bar soap or herbal gum/tooth powders for dental cleaning.
In a similar vein, this powerful testimonial shows how simple brushing with salt water healed beginning cavities that had formed while religiously using conventional fluoride toothpaste.