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What You Need to Know About Vegan Oral Care

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You chose a vegan lifestyle as a commitment to your health, the world, and all the creatures who call it home. But do your oral care products share that same commitment? You might assume all toothpaste is naturally vegan, but that's actually not the case. Learn more about what makes oral care products vegan and how to make the switch to vegan-friendly oral hygiene.

What Makes Toothpaste Vegan?

Toothpaste — or floss or mouthwash or any oral hygiene product — is vegan if it does not use or contain products derived from animals. This includes any product that comes from a part of an animal's body, even if it does not require the animal's death. For example, vegans do not eat honey because it's made from bees. Many vegans take this one step further and do not use any products tested on animals. These products are labeled "cruelty-free."

How Do You Find a Vegan Toothpaste?

If you've ever glanced at the ingredients list on your toothpaste, it might have left you scratching your head. What is "calcium carbonate," and is it vegan-friendly? To play it safe, you should choose oral care products that call out "vegan" and "cruelty-free" on the packaging. This might require a little extra research, but vegan toothpaste, mouthwash, and floss are available at most retailers today.

However, if you want to know more about the products you currently use, here are some common animal by-products found in toothpaste, floss, and toothbrushes:

  • Glycerin. Also listed as glycerine or glycerol, this sticky liquid helps keep the toothpaste moist. Glycerin can be derived from both animals and plants, and it's almost impossible to know the source unless the product is clearly labeled as "vegan."
  • Bee products. Propolis, bee pollen, and beeswax are all common ingredients used in natural oral care products. Both propolis (plant resin collected by bees) and bee pollen are used in toothpaste to promote a healthy-feeling mouth, while beeswax commonly coats floss to increase comfort when cleaning between your teeth.
  • Boar bristles. Though less common, manufacturers can sometimes use hair from wild or captive hogs to make natural toothbrushes.
  • Flavorings and colors. Finally, sometimes vague mentions of "natural flavoring" or added colors can come from animal products. If you want to be sure, you can contact the manufacturer to find the source of these ingredients.

For more information, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) provides a full list of common animal-derived ingredients used in household products.

How to Make the Switch to Vegan Oral Care

Now that you know how to choose a vegan mouthwash or toothpaste, you should consider these other factors before switching to vegan oral care.

  • Look for a vegan toothpaste or mouthwash that includes fluoride. Many vegan oral care products prioritize other ingredients and can sometimes leave out this naturally occurring mineral. But fluoride helps strengthen your enamel and protect your teeth against cavities, so look for it while scanning those ingredient lists.
  • Make sure you're eating essential nutrients for oral health. It can sometimes be harder to consume vitamins and nutrients like Calcium, B-12, Vitamin D, and Vitamin A while eating a vegan diet. These all play an important role in oral health, so look to incorporate more plant-based sources of these nutrients in your daily meals.
  • Keep up a proper oral hygiene routine. Even when using vegan products, remember to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes, clean between your teeth daily with floss or an interdental device, and make regular visits to your dentist to monitor the health of your mouth.

With a little extra research and effort, you can easily find products and brands that align with your values. Armed with the right information and some important considerations, you can establish a vegan oral care routine that leaves you, your smile, and your world happy and healthy.

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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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