Here’s a weird fact about me: I hate mint. If you’re out to dinner with me, I’m not being nice when I offer you my after-dinner candy. I just don’t want it.
Luckily mint is a pretty avoidable substance, though there is one area of life where it’s ubiquitous: Dental care. Having my bi-annual teeth polishing is always a chore and brushing my teeth, while done religiously at least twice a day every day (okay, there were a few days after Sonja was born when I simply forgot), has always been unpleasant. I rinse and spit and rinse and spit and rinse and spit, trying to get that nasty flavor out of my mouth. Just when I think I’m good to go, I have to run back to the sink and spit again.
Sick to death of this routine, I bought an orange-flavored tube of Crest. Sadly, there was still something decidedly unpleasant about the flavor. It was a familiar flavor, common to all the other toothpastes I have used. I paused to wonder if maybe there was a different offending ingredient that was common to all toothpastes that was making me retch. I looked at the ingredients on the box and what did I see? Sorbitol, a sweetener. You know what else I hate besides mint? Diet-flavored anything.
Quick internet research revealed that I had only two choices in toothpaste sweeteners: sorbitol or xylitol. Lots of internet commentators sung the praises of the natural toothpastes containing xylitol, saying they tasted way better than the others. I admit I have a weakness for the organic aisles at Fred Meyer. I love products that are paraben and phthalate-free, sans preservatives and good for mind, body and earth. I splurge on them whilst cursing the expense. Among those haloed crunchy granola products I have noticed, but never been tempted to try, fluoride-free toothpaste. Fluoride is my poison of choice, a substance I’m sure my cavity-prone teeth cannot do without. Luckily it turns out all the organic companies make pastes with and without fluoride, so I figured sorbitol v. xylitol was a taste-test worthy of the organic over-spend.
I bought Burt’s Bees peppermint flavor toothpaste with fluoride. My taste buds thanked me immediately. Obviously this has a minty flavor, but that foul lingering aftertaste disappeared, allowing me to rinse, spit and walk away. My breath is still fresh and my teeth are still clean. This toothpaste also lacks SLS, and if the internet commentators and research are to be believed, this means it will also be gentler on my teeth and alleviate some sensitivity. I’d say that’s money well spent.