We all come to the desire for a simpler, homemade toothpaste for different reasons. Several years ago, I began scrutinizing all of the products coming into our home to save money and make sure my family wasn’t being exposed to harmful ingredients. Needless to say, I was shocked at the contents of some of the products I believed were safe, or even beneficial, for our health due to marketing messages and conventional wisdom.
I slowly began to make my own products with ingredients I knew were safe. I saved a lot of money by using a few ingredients for many different projects and I was glad to know that my family was being exposed to fewer toxins.
One of the more recent products I’ve begun using is homemade toothpaste. It was the inclusion of the following ingredients in toothpaste that led me to stop buying commercial brands.
Ingredients in Toothpaste
While sodium fluoride applied topically to your teeth can be helpful in preventing tooth decay, accidentally swallowing even a pea-size amount of toothpaste with fluoride is enough to warrant a call to poison control. Fluoride toxicity can cause a number of symptoms, most commonly gastrointestinal discomfort. Even if you don’t swallow fluoridated toothpaste, it can still enter your bloodstream via the gums, especially if they bleed when you brush them. Read more about the dangers andfluoride debate on Mercola.com.
Commonly used in toothpaste, glycerin coats the teeth, which can prevent remineralization. This can weaken teeth over time.
One search in the SkinDeep Database for toothpaste brings up a number of chemicals considered harmful, like those used for foaming or whitening. The most common ones being:
- BHT: Can cause cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity, allergies, immunotoxicity, irritation to skin, eyes or lungs and organ system toxicity.
- PEG/PPG 116/66 COPOLYMER: Causes concern about ecotoxicology, contamination, organ system toxicity, persistence and bioaccumulation.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: Can cause ecotoxicology and non-reproductive organ system toxicity.
- PVP: Can cause non-reproductive organ system toxicity.
- Phosphoric Acid: Can cause irritation in skin, eyes or lungs as well as non-reproductive organ toxicity.
- Titanium Dioxide: Can cause organ system toxicity.
After reading up on this and natural dental care, I realized that I could make a homemade toothpaste that not only left out these harmful toothpaste ingredients, but that could actually remineralize my teeth as well.
Natural Toothpaste Brands
I realize not everyone wants to use homemade toothpaste (or maybe you love it but your partner or kiddos can’t stand it without gagging).
There are plenty of toothpaste alternatives available, many at your natural health food store. However, if you choose to purchase natural toothpaste, pay close attention to the toothpaste’s ingredients. Even some natural toothpaste companies add fluoride and glycerin. Look for labels that specifically don’t contain these ingredients.
Some natural brands I personally recommend are:
- Earthpaste (this is a personal favorite and the recipe below is my own version)
- Ora Wellness HealThy Mouth Brushing Blend
- Good Gums
Alternative Tooth Cleaning Recipes
If you’re more of a do-it-yourself type, be it for cost or health reasons (or both), you can easily make your own homemade toothpaste using ingredients you probably already have in your home.
A simple tooth powder can be made using sea salt and baking soda. The combination is gently abrasive and leaves your teeth feeling nice and clean. There is some debate on how often to use abrasive ingredients like these because of the possibility of wearing away at the enamel, so if that’s a concern try only using this powder once a week.
- 3 Tbsp baking soda
- 1 Tbsp sea salt
- 3 drops peppermint essential oil (optional – use more if you like a more minty flavor)
Mix the ingredients together and store in a small jar. To use, wet your toothbrush and dip it into the powder.
Bentonite clay is rich in minerals and contains antimicrobial properties. It can be added to water and consumed for upset stomach, made into a paste to treat burns and other wounds and can also be made into a homemade toothpaste, like the one below.
- 1/4 cup hot water (bring to a boil, then remove from heat right before you use it)
- 3 Tbsp bentonite clay powder
- 1 Tbsp xylitol (optional)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 10 drops lemon essential oil
- 8 drops wild orange essential oil
- 3 drops myrrh essential oil (aids healing)
- 3 drops clove essential oil (soothes gum pain)
In a bowl, slowly pour the water over the bentonite clay powder, xylitol and sea salt. Stir until it’s well mixed. Add the essential oils and stir to combine. Store in a covered jar in a cool, dark place. To use, wet your toothbrush and dip into the paste.
Aloe Vera Tooth Gel
Ask any good dentist and they will tell you that the best thing for your teeth is the actual brushing and flossing. Toothpaste is only added bonus to those two habits. So if you’re looking for something simple without abrasives and to help with breathe, try this one:
- 2 Tbsp pure aloe vera†
- 1-2 of peppermint essential oil (you could also experiment with lemon,OnGuard, or other essential oils that are safe for internal use)
Store this in a small container (a small size mason jar works well) and dip your toothbrush in to use.
Homemade Whitening Toothpaste
This toothpaste is not for long-term use. Either use it once a week consistently, or for 7 consecutive days only. Talk to your dentist about long-term usage of peroxide and baking soda as for some people it can wear away at the enamel. The ratios are in parts, so that you can make as small or large of a batch as you’d like:
- 4 parts baking soda
- 2 parts Aloe Vera†
- 1 part hydrogen peroxide
- 1 part water (you can add more water for a thinner consistency)
- 1 part peppermint essential oil (or extract if your EO is not safe for internal use)
Directions: Put it all in a small jar with a tight lid (I use a small canning jar). Shake it up baby now. YouÂ could even do a little twist and shout.Â I use a tiny little spoon to scoop out a small amount (pea-size) for each use. This is in order to keepÂ the jarÂ relatively germ-free since there are no preservatives (albeit the baking soda may help preserve to some small extent). The jar and lid are easily washable but try to keep the lid as clean and dryÂ as possible to avoid rust. Recycle the lid and replace with a new one if you find any rust.
† Not the store-bought stuff for sunburns; if you don’t have your own aloe vera plant, try Skin Gel from Aloe Life, which states right on the bottle that it’s good for gums. Too much aloe may cause digestive upset in some people, although others report it being good for the digestive system. Either way, I’d still recommend not swallowing any toothpaste as you’ll also be swallowing the bacteria you’ve just removed from your teeth.
Each of these recipes are good for about one week, as they contain no preservatives. You may extend their shelf life by refrigerating any extra.
What about you? Leave your favorite homemade toothpaste recipe or alternative in the comments below.
By Nina Nelson