Wicked Fresh! Toothpaste Saves Your Breath (& Your Friends)
Go on, admit it. You’ve had bad breath — and on more than one occasion. If you were lucky, you figured it out yourself and quickly brushed or rinsed or even chewed some gum. Or maybe a family member had the kindness to tell you before you went out in public. Worst-case scenario, you didn’t figure it out until people started backing away or covering their noses.
It’s an embarrassing situation, and I’m pretty confident when I say we’ve all been there. (If you think you haven’t, be really brave and ask someone who loves you enough to tell you the truth.)
Tom’s of Maine is known for making quality natural products, and their toothpaste is no exception. Their new Wicked Fresh! fluoride toothpaste is specially designed to fight bad breath caused by VSCs — volatile sulfur compounds — created by bacteria in your mouth.
Don’t get squeamish. Your body needs some bacteria in order to survive. In fact, they’re all over you right now, and you might as well celebrate the little critters for keeping you healthy. But you also don’t want that funky morning-mouth smell.
The scientists and other staff at Tom’s of Maine are just like you (and me). They have bad breath sometimes, too. So, they’ve figured out how to create a “clinically-proven, patent-pending punch of powerful mint flavor oils for refreshing taste and botanical licorice root extract to curb odor-causing bacteria.” Wow. That’s a mouthful.
There are a lot of things to love about the Wicked Fresh! Toothpaste. It tastes great. It seems to be as long-lasting as the advertising claims. And a little goes a long way.
Want more good things to be happy about? Here’s a list that the company provided me along with the free tube they sent:
• Made with 100% natural ingredients
• No artificial flavors, sweetners, saccharin, dyes or preservatives
• No animal testing or animal ingredients [Go Vegans!]
• Fully-recyclable packaging and tube
• 10% of Tom’s of Maine’s net profits go back to the community to help take care of the world we share
• Available in Cool Peppermint and Spearmint Ice
Something else I like about Tom’s of Maine is that they list the origin of the ingredients (or at least the ones they tell us about on the packaging). You can find the source of each ingredient in Wicked Fresh! on the Tom’s of Maine website.
At $4.29 for 5.2 oz., the price is a bit higher per ounce than, say, Colgate Advanced Fresh Gel toothpaste, which costs $4.99 for 7.6 oz. at Drugstore.com. But, money isn’t everything.
I looked up Tom’s of Maine’s Wicked Fresh! Toothpaste on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database. [Support EWG, please! They do the research that saves all of us from purchasing products that can harm us.] Wicked Fresh! rates a 3 on a scale of 10, which is the lowest (best) score in the Moderate Hazard group (3–6). For comparison, Colgate Advanced Fresh Gel toothpaste rates a 6, at the high end of the Moderate Hazard group. But this review isn’t about Colgate toothpaste.
What I learned about Wicked Fresh! from the EWG site is that the active ingredient sodium monofluorophosphate is the one of greatest concern. That’s the fluoride that strengthens and protects the enamel of your teeth. Tom’s tells us this chemical is sourced from fluorspar (calcium fluoride), which is an ore found in nature.
The hazards of fluoride include: “Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Violations, restrictions & warnings, Neurotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Occupational hazards,” according to EWG. You’re not supposed to swallow fluoride toothpastes, because of those potential hazards; so be sure to spit it out and rinse your mouth after brushing with Wicked Fresh! or any other fluoride toothpaste. This caution is especially important for children.
Mentha Piperita (peppermint oil) is the next ingredient of concern, rated a 3. That surprised me, as peppermint is a natural flavoring derived from plants. EWG says the concern is contamination. You can find out more on their website.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is also rated a 3. This ingredient helps clean your teeth, as it’s a surfactant. You’ll also find it in a lot of soaps. Many people are sensitive to SLS in toothpaste (as well as in soaps), so if you’re similarly affected, you might want to try another brand.
One more thing that makes me concerned: EWG claims that Tom’s of Maine is “non-compliant” with the Compact for Safe Cosmetics:
Non-compliant: This company has signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics and made progress toward compliance, but has not met all requirements: they have not yet fully listed all ingredients on product labels.
Harumph. Why not? I want to know.
Tom’s of Maine has long been considered an eco-friendly company with what you might call “old-fashioned” values. They protect the planet. They care for their workers. They care about their consumers.
They are also owned by Colgate-Palmolive (since 2006), a giant company that produces the Colgate toothpaste I mentioned above (rated 6 of 10 on the EWG scale), Colgate Phos-Flur Anti-Cavity Fluoride Rinse, Cool Mint (4), Colgate Anticavity Fluoride Toothpaste For Kids, SpongeBob Squarepants (5), and Colgate Total Plus & Whitening Toothpaste, Gel (6). Of the 29 pages of products listed on EWG’s database, a bit more than three pages were rated in the Low Hazard range — those included several from Tom’s of Maine. All the rest, with one exception (a scary 7!), ranked in the Moderate Hazard range. There were plenty of Tom’s of Maine products in the Moderate Hazard range as well.
Tom’s of Maine is only one of many small, eco-friendly companies that have been purchased by what might be termed “traditional” manufacturers, those who have (apparently) had less concern about the planet than about the bottom line. What happens when a huge profit-driven corporation purchases a small, eco-friendly company? Does the little guy influence the big guys to do more good? Or does the big corporation imprint its less-than-environmentally conscious ways onto the little guy?
So far as I can tell, Tom’s of Maine seems to be holding its own. But as consumers who care about what goes into the products that touch our bodies, we have a responsibility to remind Colgate-Palmolive and others like it — that greenwashing is not acceptable. The way the products are made and the way the workers are treated matter to us. And if it costs a little more to get products that have a better safety record, we have to be willing to support those products with our wallets.
The Small Print
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