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Toothpaste is a common, everyday item, but have you ever read its contents? Commercial dental-care pastes usually contain one or more of these teeth/gum damaging ingredients – triclosan, fluoride, polyethylene glycols, surfactants (a.k.a. foaming agents such as sodium lauryl sulfate), toxic metals, artificial sugars, glycerin, hydrated silica and sodium hydroxide. Also, these ingredients are often found in so-called natural brands of toothpaste. It is wise to read all labels very carefully.

This article covers three common ingredients found in toothpastes and throws light on their pros and cons.

Fluoride

One of the most common components of toothpaste is fluoride. In simple terms, fluoride is a by-product of aluminum, copper, and iron manufacturing. Fluoride is thought to be a contaminant. It is a chemical ion of the chemical fluorine, where fluoride has one extra electron to give it an extra charge. The most common use of fluoride is in the realm of dental hygiene.

Long before fluoride come unto its own as a cavity preventer, it was used as insecticide. Today, there are conflicting views on the use of fluoride, and there is an ongoing debate on how good or bad it is for health.

The pros of fluoride

Fluoride works in two ways to protect teeth from decay and cavities. The combination of sugars and bacteria in the mouth produce an acid that causes tooth enamel erosion that damages the teeth. Fluoride protects the teeth from this demineralization. If the teeth are already damaged, fluoride starts collecting on the ‘spoilt’ areas, and the enamel is strengthened. However, fluoride will not be of much use if a cavity already exists.

Some level of fluoride is recommended by many governments in the world today for both children and adults. Children require fluoride to protect their new, permanent teeth, while adults need it to ensure there are no cavities or decays taking form.

The cons of fluoride

According to latest studies carried out by the ADA, Fluoride is fast being regarded as potentially dangerous element being sold under the guise of “good for teeth”. Slowly but surely, a fluoride-free propaganda is being put in to place to ensure there is no more exposure to it. As of now, Dementia in humans, due to exposure to fluoride, is said to double in the next two decades and triple in three.

There are many negatives that have been discovered by researchers. Some of these are simple things like:

Excess fluoride causes discolored and crumbling teeth

Laboratory animal testing has shown that fluoride influences an increase in the absorption of aluminum in the brain. Aluminum is what is found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s.

Fluoridation and hip fractures have been seen as related in as many as three different studies conducted by researchers.

Excess fluoride has had detrimental effects on the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. This has lead to limited joint mobility, muscular degeneration, ligament calcification, and neurological deficits.

Different studies have found a link between fluoride and about 10,000 cancer deaths per year, where men who were exposed to fluoride in the long term developed a greater likelihood of suffering from bone cancer.

Neem oil

Neem is a tree found predominantly in India. Its benefits are many and among them is its usefulness in dental hygiene. To date, in the interiors of rural India, the tender bark of the Neem tree is used as teeth cleaner by people.

Neem’s special alkaloids and liminoids wonderfully clean the teeth. Neem prevents both cavities and gum disease. It treats gingivitis and swollen/bleeding gums. Neem leaf and neem seed oil are part of a fast-growing evergreen tree. Neem is antiviral and it is anti-bacterial. It also has astringent, antiseptic, antifungal, antiparasitic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Neem has the following benefits:

Helps prevent and heal gum disease

Helps prevent cavities

Eliminates bacteria that cause gum inflammation

Ensures bacteria does not stick to your teeth thereby reducing plaque

Enhances mouth immunity in general

Freshens the breath like no mouth freshener can ever duplicate

Neem is very strong digestive system cleanser, you should avoid taking it internally as you may experience serious detoxification. Always consult a practitioner before changing any of your daily habits.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil has been used by aborigines for centuries as an antiseptic and disinfectant. Tea tree is also known as Melaleuca. This oil has excellent curative properties for three human health dangers, namely, virus, fungus and bacteria. For gum diseases, this oil is fast becoming popular although in its natural form it is considered to be poisonous.

Tea tree oil is best used when it is part of a toothpaste. Any contact with mouth or skin in this raw state may cause allergies and irritation. You must use tea tree oil only after consulting your dental health provider.

Care for teeth naturally

While brushing and rinsing has its own place in your daily dental hygiene routine, there are some natural ways to ensure that you always sport a perfect set of teeth. There is a lot to be said for home remedies, most of which have been handed down through the centuries:

If you rub your teeth with bay leaf twice a week, you get sparkling white teeth

Flossing is the ideal way for healthy gums to remain healthy

You should change your toothbrush post a cold or fever, as your old one will be carrying viruses and bacteria

Use natural teeth cleaners like crunchy foods

Raw apples, celery, and carrots do a good job of cleaning your teeth while you eat them

Avoid pasty foods like peanut butter. They stick to the teeth and are a welcome invitation for tooth decay

Cheese has calcium that will coat your teeth and help fight tooth decay

Natural apple cider vinegar strengthens teeth from the inside

Rinse your mouth after drinking natural apple cider vinegar, but don’t brush your teeth right after

Next, time you buy a toothpaste, make sure to check its ingredients. For instance, check your toothpaste for the amount of fluoride it contains. Fluoride-free toothpastes are also available in the market. A sensible approach to dental hygiene will ensure you have a set of sparkling teeth and fresh breath at all times.

There are many diseases that can attack your garden and wear down the health of your plants. After you’ve tilled the soil, started your seedlings and faithfully watered and nurtured your vegetables, the last thing you want is for powdery mildew or fungus to get between you and that first crunchy cucumber. And buying pesticides and treatments at the store will add harmful chemicals to your future food, your soil, and the water runoff that returns to our creeks, rivers and oceans. Please don’t do that!

Here are 4 simple home remedies that can help you get rid of many common problems in your garden, safely and naturally. And you probably have at least three of them in your home already.

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Use apple cider vinegar to treat a host of plant diseases, including rust, black spot, and powdery mildew.
Mix 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar in 2 quarts water
Pour into a spray bottle.
Spray the solution on infected plants in the morning or early evening — when temperatures have cooled and there’s no direct light on the plant.
Repeat until the condition is cured.

2. Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate)

This simple treatment works great against plant fungus.
Mix 1 tablespoon and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a gallon of water.
Add several drops of liquid biodegradable soap to the solution to help it spread more evenly on the leaves.
Spray infected plants, including the undersides of leaves.

3. Hydrogen Peroxide

Both hydrogen peroxide and water are is made up of hydrogen and oxygen, but hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) has an extra oxygen atom. When plants are watered with hydrogen peroxide, oxygen is released into the soil around the roots, resulting in rapid healthy root growth. Roots require oxygen and most root diseases are caused when they don’t get enough of it. This is usually a result of over watering, when the air spaces around the roots are filled with water instead of air. The plant cannot absorb nutrients properly when this occurs. It begins to wilt, and the caring gardener will add more water, which makes the problem worsen. Try using the cheap 3% hydrogen peroxide you can buy at the drug store. Mix 2 teaspoons to a gallon of water, and use this the next time you water.

4. Milk

Milk is a great fungus and virus fighter in the garden. To help prevent fungus, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of powdered milk to the soil around your plants early in the season BEFORE problems happen. If you see fungus on the leaves of your tomatoes, roses, or other plants, spray a diluted milk mixture (1 part milk to 1 part water) directly on the infected leaves. You can even use milk that has soured.

5. Neem Oil

Neem oil works great as an organic insecticide, because it disrupts an insect’s hormonal balance, killing the insect before it can molt to its next stage of life. Neem oil kills pests (whitefly, aphids, Japanese beetles, moth larvae, scale, spider mites) after they’ve eaten leaves sprayed with the oil. It also repels others with its strong smell.
Sprays containing neem oil are also used as fungicides against rust, black spot, mildew, leaf spot, scab, and blight. Mix 2 tablespoons of 70% neem oil to 1 gallon of water. Spray all plant surfaces, including the top and bottom of leaves, until completely wet. As a preventative, apply the neem oil spray every two weeks. To control a pest or disease already present, apply weekly.

Now that you’ve got the plant diseases under control, here are some tips for preventing them in the future.

1. Just like us, plants get sick when they are under stress. Don’t over water or over prune. And keep those weeds under control.

2. Prevent Gray Mold. This disease occurs after prolonged periods of overcast skies, fogs, heavy dews, or light drizzly rains. The symptoms include a gray to brown discoloration that occurs on the inside or middle of the leaf or petal (rather than the outside edges as would happen as it ages naturally) and a fuzzy whitish gray to tan mold growing on the surface of affected areas. Practice surface watering so water does not accumulate on the plant itself, water early in the day so the garden can dry out. Remove all diseased parts of the plant and burn of bury. Don’t touch or move around in a crop if the leaves are wet as this can spread the disease.

3. Rotate your plants from year to year. Planting members of the cabbage family (including broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, brussel sprouts or mustard) in the same place again and again can cause Clubroot. This results in distortion on roots in the shape of a club and prevents cabbage heads from forming. If you see this problem, bring the pH of your soil up to 7.5 or so.

4. Mulch! Adding mulch to the surface of your garden will help to suppress weeds, allow you to water less often, help protect the soil from erosion and compaction, increase earthworm activity and help keep snails and slugs under control. Use:

– Sawdust
– Leaves
– Grass Clippings (if no fertilizers or treatments have been added)
– Pine Needles
– Hay or Straw

5. Compost! It’s easier than you think and lots of healthy nutrients will be added back to your soil. Get started today by checking out the helpful tips and links on the website listed below. You can even start with just a plastic bin or two and you’ll be making rich, nutritious compost for your garden for next year.

Now you are ready to watch your organic garden flourish! And it will all be worth it when you bite into that first freshly picked sweet tomato of the summer. For more tips and lots of great links, check out our Organic Eden website. Happy Gardening!

I have co-founded a website that is dedicated to those who wish to live a more natural and organic life. Together with my sister Kathy, we have created Organic Eden. Our site has lots and lots of information about planting and growing your own organic garden, and about creating a more natural and eco-friendly home. We’ve done the research for you, and our website provides links to many natural and safe products for your garden, home and family. We are both Grandmas who want to help create a safer and healthier world to pass on to our precious grandchildren.

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