So I decided to go ahead today and buy a tube of fluoride-free toothpaste. Yes, I know, finally. The information about the negative effects of fluoride on teeth are all over, and aside from that, there are less ingredients in Tom's of Maine. Less ingredients is a good thing, at least to me.
Options and availability
The first thing I did was look at the different options available at the store. There were 4 different types of ToM's toothpaste, and 4 of them contained fluoride. This was news to me, as I thought all of ToM's toothpaste was fluoride free, but alrighty then! The fluoride free option is fennel flavoured. Which I know I had heard of before, but didn't know what exactly it was. So in terms of fluoride-free options, my experience was 1/4 (25%) which isn't a great ratio.
To be honest, I love my minty toothpaste. There is just something classic and timeless about mint toothpaste. That being said, the only mint option of ToM's toothpaste was fluoridated, so I opted for a no on that one. Instead it came in fennel flavour. It honestly reminded me of black licorice and anise flavouring. Not a very strong or overwhelming taste, just average, but not what I expected. It also made my tongue go numb. I'd give it a 50% or so.
Clean feeling after brushing
The best part of this toothpaste was how clean my mouth felt afterwards. I go to the dentist regularly, and I brush and floss my teeth at home, but I have never felt like my mouth was so completely refreshed. Despite not having that minty after taste, it was as though my cheeks, gums, and tongue had just been created and never seen bacteria or food before. 100% on that aspect, for sure!
What about packaging?
As is often the case, the type of packaging of a product significantly impacts my overall opinion of the product. In this case, I was fairly impressed. The tube is made of metal which I believe is recyclable (based on Beth's assessment) as long as you remove the plastic cap and plastic threading that the cap screws onto. That sounds like a pain in the ass, but we'll see. The tube also came in a cardboard box, which was tossed in the recycling after I read the information. 75% on packaging, points gained for minimal plastic, points lost for extra packaging in the form of the box and the inconvenient recyclability.
Based on the percentages given, the average grade of this product is 62.5%. Which is better than a fail, but there is certainly room for improvement. This is true in terms of a few things. Specifically, there should be more flavour options in the fluoride-free category. Not everyone will appreciate fennel (myself included) and those who don't like it may not decide to suck it up in the face of a healthier toothpaste option. The second would be to remove the sodium lauryl sulfate from their product, as this chemical is "highly irritating and dangerous" according to the ACT report. SLS can cause serious irritation, skin erosion as well as being able to mimic estrogen.
That being said, it is a very cleansing toothpaste and I can say that the only other time my mouth feels as clean as it does with Tom's of Maine is right after I leave the dentists. I would recommend this to someone looking to improve their oral health without having to make their own toothpaste. It is a step towards healthier personal care without taking too huge a jump, and feels very much like mainstream toothpaste.
Have you ever used Tom's of Maine oral care products, or any other "natural" toothpastes? Share your oral care regime or your favourite products below.