Artificial sweeteners are used in toothpaste to mask the bitter taste of other important ingredients, since the more common natural sugars (6-carbon ring sugars, e.g. fructose, gluclose) cannot be used as they create the substrate for bacterial production of acids, the cause of caries. Generally the artificial sweeteners saccharin or aspartame are used in this role. However there are concerns over safety for both of these ingredients. Neomum uses Xylitol and Stevia extract, both natural sources of non 6-carbon ring sugars (and not broken down to acids).
Saccharin is an artificial sweetener used as a non-caloric sweetener in a wide range of food and drink products, as well as toothpastes and oral care products. It has particular support as a sugar replacement for diabetics.
Saccharine has been at the centre of controversy and in many countries was sold with warning labels until 2001 when the requirement for this label was lifted.
There have been a number of studies on saccharin and pregnancy. Saccharin has the ability to pass through the placenta, and it may remain in the foetal tissue. The use of saccharin in pregnancy should be avoided. Saccharin is excreted in breast milk, hence nursing mothers should try and restrict the use of saccharin.
The American Pregnancy Association, promoting pregnancy wellness lists saccharin in their NOT safe to use category as its use for pregnant women still remains in question.
Recent work suggests saccharin may actually increase body weight and caloric intake, thought to be related to changing the correlation between sweet tastes and calories, causing overeating.
Aspartame is the technical name for NutraSweet, Equal, and Equal-Measure. It is made up of three chemicals that when metabolised increase the levels of certain amino acids (called excitotoxins) in the brain which may cause excessive uptake of free radicals by nerve cells leading to death of those cells.
This creates the possibility of a wide range of diseases and the risk to infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly and persons with chronic health problems from excitotoxins are significant. Up to 75% of neural cells in a particular area of the brain are killed before any clinical symptoms of a chronic illness are noticed. Chronic diseases include Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, Epilepsy, Dementia, hormonal problems, and Alzheimer's.
Aspartame has been the subject of a large number of controversies and health scares since its approval by the U.S.FDA in 1974. Critics postulate that numerous health risks may be associated with aspartame. However, the FDA and EU regulatory agencies continue to consider aspartame safe at current levels of consumption as an artificial sweetener.
The American Pregnancy Association on their website lists aspartame as safe for use during pregnancy and lactation but then recommends to keep consumption to a moderate level, perhaps suggesting a degree of concern.