Monday, May 25, 2009


Malaysian Colgate Kayu Sugi Toothpaste
Kayu Sugi is a type of twig from a specific tree that is traditionally used by
Muslims to clean their teeth

Recently, I have been reading about how Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is bad for our health. And that there's plenty of that chemical on our tubes of toothpaste.


One of the things I love to do when I travel is buy toothpaste from different countries. You'd be surprised to know there are ALL kinds of toothpastes, from organic, or sublime, to herbal. Some people might find it a weird hobby. I used to collect fridge magnets, but I found it a chore to keep cleaning the dust from the magnets, and my kids keep grabbing them, and pulling them off the fridge, thereby getting them lost. This hobby is so much better. Every time I use a toothpaste from a different country, it kinda reminds me of the time I was there.

The various types of toothpastes I have in my bathroom
bottle, tubes, pump action, baking soda

Anyways, back to toothpaste. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, the chemical that causes cancer, is still used in many toothpastes because it creates a foaming action. And when a user sees foam, they think something is actually happening. However, researchers found out that no beneficial effects at all. In fact, they also think that this chemical may cause canker sore or mouth ulcers in some people.

In the old days, tooth cleaners did not contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Americans are fond of using baking soda to clean their tooth. But did you know, baking soda toothpastes are not so popular in most parts of the world. It's practically unheard of here in South East Asia. I saw my Arm and Hammer baking soda toothpaste in Cambodia, of all places, and I bought it even though it was sooo expensive because it reminded me of the time I lived in Kansas. Those who may want to try baking soda should get aluminium free baking soda. Just dip the toothpaste into the baking soda and then, brush away. It'll taste kinda salty, and slippery. But it does it's job well.

An Ayurveda tooth powder I got from an Indian store

A lot of Indians use Ayurveda tooth powder. I bought two different brands to try. I have to admit, those need a little bit of getting used to. It's, after all, ground up twigs, herbs and leaves. And it tastes exactly like ground up twigs, herbs and leaves. But my tooth feels, oh so clean, right after. And those tooth powders are cheap too. The average about USD$1.50 per bottle.

Ah, those pearly whites.

The Chinese have long believe that chewing on rough things will help clean teeth, and get rid of that dreaded Dragon Breath! When I was a kid, my mum would chop up this huge trunk of sugar cane in small bite sized pieces, and me and my brothers will sit on the floor watching tv chewing on the sugary sticks for hours on end. Ok, maybe not hours hours. Just long enough for us to sit still and watch cartoons before we got bored and run off to another adventure, out in the garden. It double duties as a thing to strengthen our gums as well and give us fresh breath.

What both the Indians and Chinese also believe in is tongue cleaners. Those are nifty, U shaped contraption you'll find at the dental section at the pharmacy. Brushing the tongue with a toothbrush does not do the trick. In fact, I have gagged a few times when I accidentally pushed the toothbrush it too far!!!!

There's an interesting article about how the traditional Chinese medicine sees the relation between the health of your mouth and kidneys. I thought it was interesting, so to read about it, go to

Lastly, did you know that you can transmit germs by sharing toothpaste as well. This is one of the reasons why, families despite being careful, like not sharing toothbrush, washing hands and so on, keep reinfecting each other. To read about it, click here, or click on the photo.

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1 comment:

Michigan Dentist said...

Great post and a great hobby. Tooth cleaning techniques involve eating fruits like apples by biting them as a whole instead of cutting them into small pieces.