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Grateful is how I feel about dentists, dental products, and dentistry in general. A dentist’s office is what unites us all, regardless of age, status, and gender. Unlike many other life experiences, hardly anyone has escaped the experience of going to the dentist. Although modern dentistry is a far cry from what it used to be, maintaining oral health is probably better than having to go through treatments. Of course, toothpaste is an important part of oral hygiene, and it had better be safe. This post is about one of the popular products in the market – Crest Complete toothpaste. Read on to learn if Crest toothpaste ingredients are safe and how they compare with those of Colgate whitening toothpaste. Also, find out what product I use and why.
I am passionate about exposing toxic chemicals because of my own health issues.
First and foremost, I am not a dentist. What I do is study ingredients using various databases and scientific literature to form an opinion on their safety. Hence, what product to use is your personal choice. Nevertheless, I do want your decision to be an informed one, not based on hype, advertisement, or product popularity.
I have been doing product research full-time since 2012. This was the year when my son was born and changed my life forever. Clearly, as a parent, I want to protect him from danger and harm from falling, cutting, or burning himself. But there is also a subtle kind of harm. Unnoticed, it creeps in through the ingredients of the products that we put on ourselves and our children.
Learning about chemicals and their potential ill effects on health made me look into my own health condition. As a result, I have been cured from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and am on the way to cure from Addison’s. Feel free to read my detailed posts Can Breast Implants Cause Autoimmune Diseases and My Health Update After Explant Surgery.
In other words, having my own health issues, I can relate to what you may be going through. Additionally, my father died of cancer, so I am really motivated to influence the manufacturers and the market. Please, check out the steps I take to do research and the resources I use on my Start here page.
That said, let’s see how safe the Crest toothpaste ingredients are.
There are some improvements in Crest Complete toothpaste ingredients.
I am not a dentist or a stomatologist. What toothpaste you should use is between you and your dentist.
As of July 2021, Crest Scope Complete Whitening Minty Fresh Toothpaste has the following ingredients (source):
The good news is that this formulation has no microbeads any longer, which is an example of consumer power. Indeed, the old formulation included poloxamer 407, a fancy name for microbeads. The latter may get stuck in gums (and cause inflammation) and in our organs. Also, they get stuck in fish, and then we consume these microbeads when we eat fish. Besides, microbeads do not biodegrade and accumulate in the environment and humans (source). Therefore, microbeads are a big no-no, and it is great that Crest fluoride toothpaste does not have them anymore.
Additionally, there is no more natural wax in this toothpaste. Tese are nice improvements, and I applaud Crest for making them.
Now, let us look at the ingredients this whitening fluoride toothpaste does have.
Sodium fluoride is among Crest toothpaste ingredients.
To begin, the pure form of fluoride is fluorine. As a toxic gas, it should always be bound with another substance before use in food or other products. This substance can be a metal (e.g., tin) or a salt.
As for sodium fluoride (NaF), it is an ionic compound of sodium and fluoride. Because it is easily soluble in water and breaks down into sodium and fluoride ions, oral care industry uses it widely (source). The 0.243% sodium fluoride in Crest Complete toothpaste delivers 0.15% weight per volume of fluoride ions (1100 parts per million = 1.1 milligram/gram).
There is an agreement that fluoride can be harmful. Thus, scientists observe a connection between the exposure to sodium fluoride and a decrease in animal reproduction (source). Further, this study showed that sodium fluoride significantly increased cell cytotoxicity and decreased the amounts of testosterone. Next, overexposure to fluoride can have a detrimental effect on teeth developing fluorosis (source). Moreover, scientists saw the association between fluoride and an underactive thyroid (source).
To be clear, these harmful health effects do not come from exposure to toothpaste alone. Hence, I believe we should closely monitor our overall exposure to fluoride. For instance, it is a good idea to install an effective water filter to deal with fluoride. If you are looking for a filter, my post Best Water Filter System for You will help you find one. Personally, I have installed Pure Effect water filtration system which, among other chemicals, removes uranium in water.
Most ingredients have nothing to do with oral health.
After sodium fluoride on the list of Crest toothpaste ingredients comes sorbitol. Judging by its position at the top of the list, it is used in a large quantity. It is sugar alcohol that sweetens Crest Complete toothpaste and keeps it from drying out. Studies show that it is less damaging for teeth than sugar.
Another anti-drying agent is glycerin which holds onto water and prevents the toothpaste from drying out. While it is safe, there is a belief from non-scientific sources that it coats teeth, preventing remineralization. In my opinion, the presence of glycerin is not an indication of potential ill effects of toothpaste on your teeth. You must look at the whole formulation. In other words, other ingredients in the toothpaste may offset its potential coating properties.
Next, sodium lauryl sulfate makes this whitening fluoride toothpaste foam. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel warns that it may cause irritation. It is also common in shampoos. I do not use shampoos with this ingredient as it strips my hair of natural oils, making it too dry.
Then, there is sodium hydroxide which is an alkali, a highly caustic and reactive substance. Its main function in Crest Complete is to adjust its pH to make it less acidic.
Lastly, xanthan gum, carbomer, and cellulose gum are thickeners that are generally considered safe. While there are no studies finding them toxic, these ingredients have nothing to do with oral health. They just help this fluoride toothpaste stay put on your toothbrush.
Only a few Crest toothpaste ingredients are related to oral health.
First, hydrated silica, aka sand, is not toxic and functions as a mild abrasive in Crest Complete toothpaste.
Second, disodium pyrophosphate is an anti-tar ingredient, aka sodium acid pyrophosphate, and is used in food. The FDA recognizes it as generally safe when used in accordance with good manufacturing practices (source).
Third, cetylpyridinium chloride is often used in oral care products for its antibacterial properties. It helps with the prevention of dental plaque accumulation and gingivitis. The EU Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety deems it safe in concentrations of up to 0.5% but notes that it may cause oral mucosal irritation. If you like essential oils, there is good news for you. Namely, this study found that the use of essential oils is as effective as cetylpyridinium chloride for oral health.
Fourth, sodium saccharin is actually a sweetener, but I included it here because it might have beneficial antibacterial properties (source). Also, along with stevia and sucralose (not among Crest toothpaste ingredients), it is found less damaging for teeth than sugar.
Preservatives in this product are on the safer side.
As you know, any product that contains water must have preservatives to prevent bacteria growth. So, it is a good thing that Crest Complete has preservatives, which are sodium benzoate and benzoic acid.
The US Food and Drug Administration refers to them as “generally recognized as safe” (source and source). Hence, they are common in processed foods. I do not recommend eating them, but in toothpaste they are okay. They may also cause an allergic reaction in some people if used in concentrations of 5% or more (source).
I consider some ingredients in Crest Complete toothpaste concerning and unnecessary.
To begin with, polysorbate 80 is an ethoxylated ingredient made with carcinogenic petrochemical ethylene oxide. Hence, it may be contaminated with carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane. Generally, I avoid products made with ethoxylated ingredients. Besides, I consider it unnecessary because it is yet another ingredient that holds the other Crest toothpaste ingredients together.
Further, flavor is a mixture of undisclosed chemicals that stimulate certain taste buds. Although new flavors go through an approval process by the FDA, the FDA does not test them (unlike color additives). Basically, the FDA allows manufacturers to keep what is in their flavors a secret. That, in and of itself, does not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling about them. And again, I do not consider flavor a necessary ingredient in a toothpaste.
Another ingredient that serves as a flavor agent in Crest Complete toothpaste is alcohol. It is toxic when ingested in big quantities but is probably okay in toothpastes.
Finally, titanium dioxide, Blue 1, and Yellow 5 are colorants. While titanium dioxide is safe unless inhaled, the other two are petroleum-based colorants that contain the residues of heavy metals and petroleum contaminants. You can see a list of the impurities that the FDA advises manufacturers to minimize with good manufacturing practices here. Given that their sole purpose is to add aesthetics to this whitening fluoride toothpaste, I consider them unnecessary.
Crest vs. Colgate
How do Colgate and Crest toothpaste ingredients compare? Well, let’s look at Colgate Total Whitening Toothpaste ingredients (source).
Just as Crest Complete toothpaste, Colgate has sorbitol, hydrated silica, glycerin, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium saccharin, and xanthan gum.
In addition to such concerning ingredients as flavor, titanium dioxide, and PEG-12 (an ethoxylated ingredient), Colgate lists cocamidopropyl betaine. It is a foaming agent. While in some shampoos it may be a safer choice than some other surfactants, I find it unnecessary in toothpaste. Even more so, Colgate whitening toothpaste already has sodium lauryl sulfate as a foaming agent. (To learn more about cocamidopropyl betaine, refer to my post about cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine.)
As for the other ingredients (tetrasodium pyrophosphate, microcrystalline cellulose, zinc phosphate etc.), I am not too concerned about them. Although, they hardly have anything to do with oral health.
What does bother me is the absence of preservatives. Since Colgate whitening toothpaste contains water, there must be preservatives. If you are using this toothpaste, I encourage you to contact Colgate and request the information about their preservation system.
Colgate whitening toothpaste uses stannous fluoride.
Now, instead of 0.243% sodium fluoride (NaF), Colgate whitening toothpaste uses 0.454% stannous fluoride, aka tin fluoride (SnF2). Actually, Crest uses stannous fluoride in their other products, too. In fact, they state that toothpaste with 0.454% stannous fluoride delivers the same concentration of fluoride ions as toothpaste with 0.243% sodium fluoride (source). This comparative analysis of stannous fluoride and sodium fluoride toothpastes found that the former was more effective in fighting bacteria than the latter.
Bottom line, both ingredients are fluoride based. As I mentioned earlier, I believe we should closely monitor our exposure to toxic fluoride in general.
Conclusion about Crest Complete toothpaste
I am not a dentist or a stomatologist. Please, consult your dentist about toothpaste that will work for you.
To sum up, the safety of Crest toothpaste ingredients has somewhat improved. However, I would not use it because it contains ingredients of concern such as an ethoxylated ingredient, colorants, and flavor. Besides, the majority of this whitening toothpaste ingredients have nothing to do with oral health. Personally, I use toothpastes made with natural ingredients and void of ethoxylated ingredients. Also, I prefer toothpastes with ingredients that improve gums and teeth, not the commercial appeal of the product.
Additionally, I am not a fan of toothpastes with fluoride. I believe that there are safer ingredients that help toothpaste fight bacteria and provide dental remineralization. For example, there is scientific evidence showing that hydroxyapatite can restore enamel and remineralize teeth naturally. I have been using Essential Oxygen certified organic toothpaste for sensitive teeth and Risewell hydroxyapatite toothpaste. By the way, I consider Risewell kids’ toothpaste the safest toothpaste for kids.
As always, I invite you to visit my shop for safe product options. Also, consider hiring me if you need assistance with healthy living. Finally, look through my e-books and apply to the Savvy Consumer Circle for education and fun in your healthy living journey.
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