What Is Vegetarian Toothpaste?

J. Finnegan

Vegetarian toothpaste is a toothpaste preparation that doesn't use any animal-derived ingredients. Glycerin is a common ingredient in toothpaste, and it can be derived from petroleum, animal fats, or plant fats. A vegetarian toothpaste preparation that uses glycerin would use a type that's either synthetic or plant-derived. There can be some ambiguity regarding what constitutes a vegetarian product, as some users of vegetarian toothpaste will accept the presence of synthetically made ingredients as long as there are no animal-based ingredients, others will only use products that contain natural plant-derived ingredients. Those who practice a vegan lifestyle, however, prefer to use only naturally derived, non animal-based products.

Baking soda is a vegan alternative to toothpaste.
Baking soda is a vegan alternative to toothpaste.

Glycerin, which is also known as glycerol, is used in a large number of different products ranging from automobile antifreeze, to food preservatives and sweeteners, to cosmetics. Synthetic glycerin is made from propylene, which is derived from petroleum. Natural glycerin is a byproduct of soap-making and can be made from either plant fats or animals fats, which are most commonly derived from pigs and cows.

Vegetarian toothpaste uses no animal ingredients.
Vegetarian toothpaste uses no animal ingredients.

In toothpaste preparations, glycerin is used to make a creamy paste that doesn't separate and also to make the toothpaste taste sweeter. Glycerin is clear, odorless, and very sticky. Some health experts advise against the use of glycerin in dental care as it coats the teeth, potentially interrupting the natural cycle of remineralization, which, over time, can cause tooth decay.

Organic toothpaste differs from vegetarian toothpaste in that it doesn't contain synthetic ingredients or ingredients that are known to have a certain level of toxicity, whereas a vegetarian toothpaste preparation only signifies that the ingredients aren't derived from animal sources. A completely natural or certified organic toothpaste won't contain the synthetic ingredients that are used in many toothpaste brands such as artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or fragrances. Parabens are generally avoided by makers of organic toothpaste and other natural cosmetic products because of a potential link between them and some forms of cancer. Mineral oil and propylene glycol, both commonly found in toothpastes, are derived from petroleum and, therefore, not used in organic toothpastes or other natural cosmetics.

Many consumers who are concerned about the safety of the ingredients in their toothpaste are choosing to make their own. There are a multitude of different toothpaste recipes, most of which can be made quickly and easily from inexpensive ingredients. Something to avoid in both homemade and commercially prepared toothpaste is the overuse of abrasive materials such as silica or pumice, which can damage teeth.

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