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Like most parents, I worry about what my daughter puts into her 21 month old mouth! A lot of the time it’s things that have no business being there at all… toys, tissues and important work documents… other times it’s bits of rubbish from the floor, etc. If you have, or have ever had, a toddler, you will know exactly what I mean, from the moment they learn to reach out and grab babies use their mouths as one more sensory organ for exploring and investigating their world.
The things I do want my daughter to eat I am very fussy about – as regular readers will know, (from the good old days when we got paid to give other Members our Advice!). I am very cautious about food additives, impurities, chemicals, colours etc, due to the unknowable effects on a developing body and immune system, and spend a lot of time, effort and money preparing wholesome organic meals (some of which she even concedes to eat from time to time, dependant on mood!)
So when her first tiny teeth came along, I wanted to find something to clean them with that wasn’t crammed full of chemicals, flavourings, etc… Looking at the ingredients of some brands I was horrified… there were even some that contained a sugar (sucrose)! Even then I’d rather she consumed sugar than artificial sweeteners like sorbitol and aspartame, and lets face it we are talking about consuming at this age – rinsing and spitting is not really an option yet, in terms of capability and vocabulary. I had never really looked at the ingredients on a tube of toothpaste before, as I guess we do think of it as something we never actually eat, but we all end up swallowing some of it so take a look some time. I would never eat a meal that contained things I’d never heard of and had no idea of the purpose or effects of, yet twice a day I had been happily squirting a mysterious white chemical paste into my mouth without a second thought!
Which is why I was delighted to come across Green People’s mandarin toothpaste with organic herbs, part of their Happy Kids range. I found it in the Simply Organic catalogue (simplyorganic.net), but have also seen it in health-food shops. I think it is around £2 a tube, which is a little more expensive than some of the traditional brands, but remember with a toddler you are talking about just one tiny smear of paste, and we would still be on our first tube if she was the only one using it.
The ingredients are listed along with their purpose, so you can understand exactly what it contains and why:-
Calcium carbonate – mild abrasive cleaner (this is actually common chalk) Glycerine – moisturiser Carrageenan – thickener Stevia rebaudians – herbal flavour Citrus reticulata – natural flavour Citrus grandis – anti-bacterial (the last three ingredients are from certified organic sources, they are all plant extracts despite the scary Latin!)
It has a mild mandarin taste and smell, which is quite clean and fresh tasting, not at all sweet. I find it makes a nice change from an onslaught of mint first thing in the morning! It is also not quite as foamy in the mouth as most toothpastes, I assume this is due to them containing a specific foaming agent which can only be acidic – great for tooth enamel. It rinses away easily, leaving a faint citrusy tang that goes better with my coffee than spearmint any day. As is probably evident I use this product too, alternating with Sensodyne as I really do need a specific product for sensitive teeth – I just find the Green People much pleasanter to use! Sensodyne tastes quite revolting, but that’s another op for another day… Cassie clearly likes the taste too and getting the brush back can be quite a challenge (“Tassie do it!!”) but at least I know it doesn’t matter if she eats swallows some.
One thing that I do regard as a drawback is that this product doesn’t contain fluoride. I understand that a lot of herbalists and natural health promoters are opposed to the automatic inclusion of it in products that are supposed to be natural, and there is always the risk of very young children swallowing more than they ought. There are increased risks if you live in an area with fluoride automatically added to the drinking water (we don’t). However I for one am convinced of the benefits of fluoride for good dental health, and therefore choose a multivitamin drop for Cassie that contains RDA fluoride amongst other things - this was harder to track down as most manufacturers assume you are getting fluoride from your toothpaste!
However overall I am very satisfied with this product, and would recommend it to any concerned parent wondering about the safest and most effective way to clean those emerging little pearls in their babies’ mouths. Be warned though, you might find the whole family converting!