Wicked Fresh! Toothpaste Saves Your Breath (& Your Friends)

Fresh breath is important for happy relationships. Photo: © Kurhan - Fotolia.com

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.

Bad breath can drive away even close friends. Photo: © vlorzor - Fotolia.com

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.

Good Stuff

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.

Tom's of Maine Wicked Fresh! Toothpaste is designed to promote fresh breath and protect teeth from cavities. Photo: © Jason Stitt - Fotolia.com

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.

How Much?

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.

Maybe-Not-So-Good Stuff

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.

Be sure children rinse well and spit after using toothpaste. Photo: © Digitalpress - Fotolia.com

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, Who?

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.

Tom's of Maine Wicked Fresh! Toothpaste rates an overall 3 of 10 on the EWG safety scale. Photo: Julia Wasson

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

Blue Planet Green Living received a free sample of the product described in this post. No other compensation or incentive was provided.

Blue Planet Green Living’s review policy is to only review those products we feel merit overall positive comments. If we do not like a product, we do not review it. We are not influenced by complimentary products and provide our honest opinions. For more information, please visit the Policies tab on the top navigation bar.

Blue Planet Green Living has an affiliate relationship with Amazon.com. If you purchase this product or any other products through Amazon by clicking on our affiliate link, Blue Planet Green Living will receive a small financial compensation from Amazon, which we use to sustain this website.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Radius Scores with Source Toothbrush and Natural Floss

The Radius Source has a contoured handle that fits and a replaceable brush head. Photo: Julia Wasson

How many times a day do you brush your teeth? If you follow the advice of WebMD, you’ll brush twice a day – morning and night — and you’ll floss once a day.

Radius Source toothbrush handles are made with (l to r) recycled US Treasury bills, wood, or flax. Photo: Courtesy Radius

In a given year, you’re brushing at least 730 times. But when you count the strokes of the toothbrush in your mouth, you’re talking about a number in the thousands. Doesn’t it just make sense that you’d use high-quality tools for something you do so often to protect your oral health?

For years I’ve used whatever toothbrush my dentist gave me at my semi-annual checkups and with replacements from my local drugstore in between visits. They’re fine toothbrushes. Soft bristles. A relatively comfortable handle. Colorful, and sometime even fancy, but certainly serviceable. And until recently, I thought of all toothbrushes as disposable.

When I received a free sample of the Radius Source toothbrush, I got a whole new experience with dental hygiene. Once out of the package, its unique, molded shape fit my right hand perfectly.

But what if you’re a lefty? No worries. The brush head is removable and can easily be turned around so that the handle fits your left hand. Cool! Someone’s thinking about the 8–15% of the population who are left-handed. My old toothbrushes are supposed to work just as well in either hand — and they do — but the fit isn’t nearly as good as the Radius Source.

Replaceable Brush Head

There’s another advantage to being able to change the brush head, too. You can easily replace it when it wears out. If your dentist is like mine, he or she will likely suggest that you replace your toothbrush every three months. Others suggest replacing them more often, especially if you’ve had a cold or a cold sore or have dropped your toothbrush on the floor.

My Radius Source toothbrush isn't as flashy as the one my dentist gave me, but it's got many more bristles and is a lot more comfy in my hand. Photo: Julia Wasson

The Radius Source brush head is made from “surgical-grade” plastic and accounts for only 7% of the entire volume of plastic. I’m not sure why “surgical-grade” plastic is important, but I do know that the toothbrushes are free of Bisphenol A (BPA), so that’s very good.

The heads come with your choice of soft or medium bristles. My toothbrush has soft bristles, which is what my dentist recommended, and I find it scrubs my teeth quite well.

The only thing I’ve not been terribly pleased with is that I’ve lost four bristles over the course of a month of using the toothbrush. But there are way more than twice as many bristles in my Radius Source toothbrush as in the ones my dentist gives me, so what’s a lost bristle here or there?

The shape of the brush head is wide, tapering to a point at the top. I like this because it covers more of each tooth at a time, requiring fewer strokes. (Those of you who are more patient than I can use the same number of strokes and just clean your teeth more thoroughly.) And, the tapered end at the top is efficient at getting to the very back of my mouth.

A Handle that Fits Your Hand

So let’s get back to the other 93% of the toothbrush — the handle.  Forty-seven percent (47%) of each handle is made from renewable resources: recycled U.S. Treasury bills (you could have bits of a million dollars in your hand!), recycled flax, or recycled wood. Polypropylene plastic is used both to bond the scrap materials and make them rigid.

My toothbrush handle has flecks of flax inside. Photo: Julia Wasson

My free toothbrush handle contains flax. It’s a very dark brown, almost black, with lighter brown flecks throughout. The toothbrush made from recycled dollars appears in product photos to be dark brown or black, with green flecks — but it might even be a deep green. Hard to tell in the photo. The recycled wood toothbrush is a light brown color.

No, you can’t get that electric green, fire engine red, or passionate purple handle you might be used to. But think about how often you have to dispose of those colorful toothbrushes that don’t have replaceable heads.

There’s a huge chunk of plastic in every toothbrush. Even if you do recycle your old-style toothbrushes (possible, if your recycler takes #5 plastic), wouldn’t it be so much better (for the planet and your wallet) if you could just replace the worn-out head?

Another thing that’s missing on my toothbrush is all the bumpy, rubbery-feeling material used to help me grip it more tightly. But with the Radius Source, that’s not necessary, because the handle itself fits so well. I’d never thought very much about the handle of my toothbrush. But now that I’ve used the Radius Source, I’m definitely in favor of the wide, tapered shape.

As Joe said, when I asked him to hold my toothbrush in his hand, “It fits. The contour feels right.” So, it fits both a man’s and a woman’s hand. And, because the handle is much wider than any other toothbrush I’ve ever tried, I suspect it would also fit nicely into a much larger hand.

How Much?

Replacing the brush head is simple, easy, and inexpensive. Photo: Julia Wasson

There is a disadvantage you should be aware of: The Source won’t fit a standard, bathroom toothbrush holder. But then, my fancier toothbrushes from the dentist don’t fit it either. You can, however, purchase a Source toothbrush travel case from Radius for only $1.99. It’s intended for traveling, but you can easily protect your toothbrush in it at home, too. Or do as we do, and stand your toothbrushes brush-end-up in an attractive glass or other container.

So what about price? You could buy one toothbrush similar to the one my dentist gave me for $4.49 at Walgreens. Or you could buy one Radius Source toothbrush with an extra brush head for $6.95. When your Radius Source wears out, you can buy two replacement heads for $5.49. Or, when your regular-style toothbrush wears out, you can recycle the whole thing and start all over.

Don’t like the handle style of the Source version? Radius sells other unique styles, and has for 25 years.

Don’t Forget to Floss

You’ll also find floss at the Radius website. I received a container of the Natural Cranberry Floss. It tastes slightly tart (probably not a favorite of small kids) and has a red coloring that goes away as you use the floss. (It temporarily leaked off on my fingers when I tried to use it.)

Radius also makes floss, including both the unwaxed cranberry variety and a waxed variety. Photo: Courtesy Radius

Because my teeth are set very close together, I wasn’t able to comfortably use the floss. But Joe’s teeth have a bit more space between them. He has no problem with unwaxed floss and found it to work very well: “It’s almost like flossing with a piece of hair, it’s so thin.”

Radius sells a Natural Silk Floss, which is “spun in natural beeswax to help sliding through tight spaces.” That’s what I need, though I haven’t yet tried it.

Both floss styles retail for $2.99 for one container, $8.07 for a three-pack, or $14.35 for a six-pack — a considerable savings per container. Each floss container holds 50 meters of floss.

I almost didn’t write about the floss, because our policy is to only report on items we feel positive about, and I wasn’t able to use the Natural Cranberry Floss. But I can’t use any unwaxed floss, so that would have been a poor comparison. So, I got Joe’s opinion and, as you already read, he was positive about the floss. That’s good enough for me.

Update 6/15/10

An article posted by Dr. Mercola today links poor oral hygiene with heart disease. All the more reason to take good care of your teeth and gums!

The Small Print

Blue Planet Green Living received a free sample of the products described in this post. No other compensation or incentive was provided.

Blue Planet Green Living’s review policy is to only review those products we feel merit overall positive comments. If we do not like a product, we do not review it. We are not influenced by complimentary products and provide our honest opinions. For more information, please visit the Policies tab on the top navigation bar.

Blue Planet Green Living has an affiliate relationship with Amazon.com. If you purchase this product or any other products through Amazon by clicking on our affiliate link, Blue Planet Green Living will receive a small financial compensation from Amazon, which we use to sustain this website.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

http://www.radiustoothbrush.com/naturalflosses.aspx