(NewsUSA) - Today's smart shoppers carefully study ingredient labels to make sure what they eat and drink is good for them, avoiding artificial and overly processed food. They know to watch out for artificial flavors and colors, trans fats, preservatives and chemical stabilizers because long-term consumption has been shown to cause health problems. However, there is one ingredient label that most of us have never checked, says Dentist and Oral Health Expert Dr. Harold Katz, and it is one label he highly recommends we read.
"You will brush your teeth 1,000 times per year or more, and each time you do, you will ingest some toothpaste. If you think that is not a problem, think again," says Dr Katz. "Some of the ingredients in many commercial toothpastes are undeniably bad for you."
To help conscientious brushers know what to watch out for, Dr Katz put together the following list of harmful ingredients:
* FD&C blue dye No. 2. This dye is in many toothpastes, but the Center for Science in the Public Interest warns against it as it might be related to learning and behavioral issues, severe allergic reactions and other health problems.
* Sodium lauryl sulfate. The American College of Toxicology says it can cause skin corrosion, irritation and canker sores. In lab rats, the ingredient led to depression, diarrhea and death.
* Triclosan. The anti-microbial ingredient is listed as a pesticide and is used in OTC toothpaste and hand soap. But the Environmental Protection Agency demanded more research be conducted because of triclosan's negative effects on thyroid and estrogen levels.
* Saccharin and aspartame. Both are artificial sweeteners, and both made the Center for Science in the Public Interest's list of additives to avoid.
What nutritionists recommend you stick to with food should apply to oral care products as well, advises Katz. "Look for a toothpaste with natural ingredients like Aloe Juice and Tea Tree Oil. Xylitol is an excellent cavity fighting sweetener. And avoid toothpastes with added colors -- they serve no purpose and can actually decrease the whiteness of your teeth over time."