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July 07, 2024 8 min read

 Hey legends!

When it comes to our oral care routine, we all want what's best for our pearly whites and the planet. But have you ever stopped to wonder what's hiding in your conventional toothpaste and mouthwash? What makes it foam up? And what are those red and blue coloured stripes in my toothpaste?  

The truth might leave a bad taste in your mouth, but knowledge is power, so we wrote this blog to help you make well-informed decisions and help you find a natural, zero-waste oral care alternative with our ultimate guide. Whether you're starting your eco-friendly journey or a seasoned pro, we've got you covered. So, let's dive in and discover how to ditch some ingredients in our daily brush and embrace more natural alternatives for a healthier, more sustainable smile! 

The Ugly Truth About Conventional Oral Care Products

It might come as a surprise to you, however many conventional oral care products are packed with a cocktail of harsh ingredients that can wreak havoc on your health and the environment. Here are our top 5 ingredients you will never find in any of our toothpaste products:

  1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)—This harsh foaming agent is used to create the foam in toothpaste we all love, but it can cause irritation, canker sores, and disruption of the delicate balance of your oral microbiome. Have a look at your toothpaste—most conventional toothpaste have this!
  2. Propylene Glycol - A potentially toxic surfactant used in antifreeze and industrial products.
  3. Triclosan - This antibacterial agent has been linked to hormone disruption, antibiotic resistance, and cancer
  4. Alcohol - While it may kill bacteria, alcohol can also dry out your mouth, increasing your risk of tooth decay and oral cancer.
  5. Saccharin - An artificial sweetener linked to various health issues, including cancer in animal studies.

Yikes. Not exactly something you want to put in your mouth, right?!

What About Fluoride?

We know that fluoride is a hot topic in oral care. While some natural oral care enthusiasts prefer to avoid fluoride altogether, the research shows that this mineral can be highly beneficial for preventing tooth decay and strengthening enamel when used in the right amounts. This is the most important part to remember; it needs to be used correctly. I highly recommend checking out our previous blog post, (Should I Use a Fluoride or Fluoride-Free Toothpaste), for a comprehensive overview of the research and science behind this ingredient.

As a research-based company, at Go For Zero, we offer a range of both fluoride-free and fluoride toothpaste options so you can choose what's best for your unique needs and preferences. 

Brushing Up on a Dirty Habit: The Environmental Impact of Toothpaste Tubes

Besides the fact that we avoid certain ingredients, we can't forget the environmental impact of mainstream toothpaste. While we often think of single-use plastics like bags and bottles, toothpaste tubes are a surprising culprit lurking in our bathrooms.

Every year, an estimated 20 billion toothpaste tubes are discarded globally. Unlike plastic bottles, toothpaste tubes are typically a complex mix of plastics and aluminium foil, making them difficult or impossible for most recycling facilities to process. The result? Landfills* become their final resting place, where they can take hundreds of years to break down into microplastics, leaching harmful chemicals into the soil and potentially contaminating groundwater. That calls for innovation. For better ingredients and sustainable packaging solutions, and we’ve found them!

*note: we have a recycling program and take these tubes and brushes so they get recycled with Terracycle

Why Natural Oral Care is the Way to Go

So, what's the solution? Safe, zero-waste oral care, of course! By switching to products made with plant-based ingredients and plastic-free packaging, you can enjoy a range of benefits:

  • Minimised exposure to harmful chemicals 
  • Reduced environmental impact 
  • Support local, ethical brands like those we champion at Go For Zero 
  • A healthy, radiant smile that you can feel good about!

At Go For Zero, we're passionate about curating the best natural, low-tox oral care products from Australian and New Zealand-owned brands. We've done all the hard work for you, so you can trust that every product we offer is effective and safe for you and the planet.

Toothpaste Alternatives for Every Preference

Ok, let's talk about alternatives for that mainstream plastic-packaged toothpaste! We know everyone has different needs and preferences when it comes to their oral care routine, so that is why we offer a range of natural, zero-waste toothpaste alternatives to suit every taste and lifestyle:

  • Toothpaste—It's just like conventional toothpaste, but without the nasties and plastic packaging! These creamy formulas are perfect for those who prefer a traditional brushing experience. Simply dip your toothbrush into the jar (or scoop with a spoon if you are sharing) and brush as usual. What’s even better? One recyclable glass jar of toothpaste replaces two plastic tubes—winning!
  • Tooth Tonic—This concentrated blend of antibacterial essential oils works as both a toothpaste and mouthwash. Think of it like an oil cleanser for your teeth! Add two drops to your toothbrush, brush, and rinse for a deep, clean, fresh breath.
  • Tooth Powder - A waterless, clay-based formula that gently polishes teeth and freshens breath. Sprinkle a small amount onto your wet toothbrush, brush in circular motions, and rinse thoroughly. These powders are highly concentrated, so a little goes a long way! And one jar of toothpowder replaces 4 tubes of standard toothpaste - woohoo!
  • Tooth Tablets - Perfect for travel or on-the-go brushing, these pre-measured tabs foam up when chewed, just like regular toothpaste. Pop one in your mouth, chew until it forms a paste, brush, and rinse. Easy peasy!
  • Kids Toothpaste - Kids toothpaste without plastic and without our top 5 harsh ingredients to avoid are hard to find, but we love Solid, an NZ-made brand founded by a mum who is a dental hygienist. You will find strawberry and orange toothpaste here and toothpaste tablets here

Not sure which one to choose? Here's a quick guide:

Natural Mouthwash Alternatives for a Fresher Feel 

So what about mouthwash? Let's face it, bad breath (halitosis) can be a social nightmare. Mouthwash acts like a breath mint in a bottle, tackling odour-causing bacteria and leaving your mouth feeling clean and smelling fresh. Not everyone needs it, but if you do or love the fresh feeling like I do, here are three ingredients we avoid:

  1. Alcohol - The alcohol in some mouthwashes can irritate sensitive mouth tissues, causing discomfort and potentially making existing problems worse.
  2. Artificial Sweeteners & Dyes—Thanks to artificial sweeteners and dyes, many types of mouthwash boast bright colours and sweet flavours. While these enhance the aesthetics and taste, these additives offer no real dental health benefits. Furthermore, some people experience allergic reactions to these unnecessary additives, and certain sweeteners like saccharin have raised concerns about potential cancer risks.
  3. Tricoslan - While strong antiseptics like triclosan can kill bacteria, they can also destroy the beneficial bacteria that keep the mouth healthy, leading to disrupted oral microbiota.

Natural alternatives are made with strong antibacterial ingredients without the harsh long-term effects. Meet our favourites:

  1. Tooth Tonic - The Tooth Faerie's Tooth Tonic is a game-changer for those looking to freshen their breath and support their oral health without the burn of alcohol or the risk of other harsh ingredients. This innovative formula harnesses the power of antibacterial essential oils like peppermint, clove, and myrrh to kill bad breath-causing bacteria and promote a healthy oral microbiome. Simply add a few drops to your toothbrush or dilute with water to create a refreshing rinse. You can even use it as a spot treatment for pesky mouth ulcers or cold sores! And added benefit is that is can be used as a toothpaste and is great to travel. Yep, we love it too. See the reviews here.
  1. Oil Pulling - An ancient Ayurvedic practice that involves swishing coconut oil in your mouth for 10-20 minutes to remove toxins and freshen your breath. The lauric acid in coconut oil has been shown to reduce inflammation, fight bacteria, and promote overall oral health. Simply take a tablespoon of coconut oil, swish it around your mouth for 10-20 minutes (don't swallow!), spit it out (in the trash, not the sink), and rinse with warm water.

  2. Saltwater Rinse - A simple, cost-effective option that can help reduce inflammation, soothe sore gums, and promote healing. Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt in a cup of warm water, swish it around your mouth for 30 seconds, and spit it out. Repeat as needed throughout the day to relieve mouth sores, toothaches, or post-dental procedure discomfort. 

What About Floss?

We know that flossing is essential to any oral care routine, but finding a truly eco-friendly and non-toxic floss can be a challenge. Most “eco-friendly" flosses contain harmful PFAS chemicals. True story. 

After over two years of searching, we haven’t found an option that meets our strict standards for sustainability and safety. For that reason, we've decided not to stock floss at Go For Zero until we can. We're committed to offering only the best products for you and the planet, and we won't compromise on quality or integrity.

But….if you can’t go without floss, I would advise a water flosser for 100% safe sustainable flossing in the meantime.

The Bottom Line on Low Tox, Zero Waste Oral Care

Phew, that was a lot of information! Let's recap the key takeaways:

  • Conventional oral care products often contain toxic ingredients like artificial dyes, triclosan, SLS, propylene glycol, alcohol, and saccharin, which can harm your (oral) health and the environment. 
  • Go For Zero offers a range of toothpaste, mouthwash, and other dental care options from Australian and New Zealand brands to suit every preference and need. 
  • We don't currently stock floss because we lack a truly safe, sustainable option that meets our high standards, but we won’t stop searching—stay tuned, eco-warriors!

At the end of the day, making the switch to low-tox, zero-waste oral care is all about progress, not perfection. Small changes, like swapping your conventional toothpaste for a natural alternative or trying a tooth tonic instead of alcohol-based mouthwash, can have a big impact over time. Have a look at the reviews of our toothpaste alternatives here.

And remember, we're here to support you every step of the way! If you have any questions or need help finding the perfect oral care products for your needs, just reach out. 

Cheers to small steps and naturally radiant smiles,

Love Ellie and the Go For Zero Team x


  1. Aravindakshan, J., & Paquet, V. (2021). Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and its effects on oral health: A review. Journal of Functional Foods, 81, 104464. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2021.104464
  2. Weatherly, L. M., & Gosse, J. A. (2017). Triclosan exposure, transformation, and human health effects. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B, 20(8), 447-469. https://doi.org/10.1080/10937404.2017.1399306
  1. Fowles, J. R., Banton, M. I., & Pottenger, L. H. (2013). A toxicological review of the propylene glycols. Critical Reviews in Toxicology, 43(4), 363-390. https://doi.org/10.3109/10408444.2013.792328
  1. McCullough, M. J., & Farah, C. S. (2008). The role of alcohol in oral carcinogenesis with particular reference to alcohol-containing mouthwashes. Australian Dental Journal, 53(4), 302-305. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1834-7819.2008.00070.x 
  1. Whitehouse, C. R., Boullata, J., & McCauley, L. A. (2008). The potential toxicity of artificial sweeteners. AAOHN Journal, 56(6), 251-261. https://doi.org/10.3928/08910162-20080601-02
  1. Peedikayil, F. C., Sreenivasan, P., & Narayanan, A. (2015). Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis - A preliminary report. Nigerian Medical Journal, 56(2), 143-147. https://doi.org/10.4103/0300-1652.153406T

  2. National Health and Medical Research Council. (2017). Water fluoridation and human health in Australia. https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/about-us/publications/water-fluoridation-and-human-health-australia 

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