Why make your own toothpaste?
I tried it because I didn’t like the disposable plastic tubes that you buy from the store and can’t recycle. You can sometimes find tooth powders or pastes that come in reusable jars and bottles. However, I’ve found those to be too costly and the ingredients are usually simple enough that I can make my own.
I found out rather late that some toothpastes you buy in the store contain plastic microbeads, so that’s something to avoid as well if you want to stop adding plastic to the ocean.
The main ingredients:
Baking soda usually features in natural toothpaste recipes. It abrades (scrubs) the teeth and deodorizes, and has some antibacterial properties.
Another ingredient you will often see in natural toothpaste and tooth powder is bentonite clay. It is basically volcanic ash. Like baking soda, it’s abrasive and serves to scrub the teeth. There are a lot of other supposed benefits of this clay (it contains minerals and is said to help with remineralization, although I’m not sure how effective it is to apply the stuff topically against the teeth rather than swallowing it), and it may help to soothe inflamed skin/gums. By the way, I don’t recommend swallowing your toothpaste after you’ve used it, because – remember – you’ll be swallowing a bunch of plaque and bacteria that has just been removed from your teeth. (Yuck.)
Some people add a drop of trace minerals to their DIY toothpaste recipe. Once again, I’m not sure about the effectiveness of trace minerals being applied topically to the teeth, so do your own research, but I’m not recommending swallowing trace minerals either. Good diet does help with remineralization.
Coconut oil is used in a lot of DIY personal product recipes, and that includes many DIY toothpastes. It does have some natural antibacterial properties, and some people “pull” with coconut oil on its own, which basically means putting some coconut oil in your mouth and swishing it around for an extended period of time (like 10 minutes) to improve the health of the gums, teeth, and throat. I’ve tried it and noticed that it successfully soothed a canker sore and left my mouth feeling moisturized. Despite some claims that it works ‘better than flossing’, I personally wouldn’t replace flossing with oil pulling because it doesn’t physically get in between your teeth or hug the gums. In any case, using coconut oil in your oral health routine doesn’t hurt you. There’s nothing to say you couldn’t use castor oil or some other vegetable oil in your toothpaste recipe though.
I think it’s important to choose fair trade coconut oil when you use it, since its demand worldwide as a luxury product is rising like crazy, and yet the agricultural workers responsible for making it available aren’t fairly compensated; not even close.
So, here’s my toothpaste recipe. It doesn’t replace flouride* treatments, but it can be used safely, it removes the gritty feeling from your teeth, and it doesn’t taste too bad…although if you’re accustomed to sweet toothpaste, this will take some getting used to. Also, if baking soda irritates your gums, you might have to modify the recipe by reducing the amount of baking soda, or alternating your DIY toothpaste with a different one from time to time.
*By the way, if you’re worried about flouride in the water supply and think I’m crazy for mentioning flouride as a positive measure to prevent cavities, please consider that ingesting more-than-trace-quantities of flouride is different from using it topically on the teeth at your dentist’s office and then spitting it out. We should all make sure to go to the dentist regularly, of course, for the sake of our oral and heart health.
- 1 part (ex: 3 tbsp) of fair trade coconut oil
- 1 part (ex: 3 tbsp) cruelty free baking soda (ex: Bob’s Red Mill)
- a sprinkling (about 1/2 tsp) of bentonite clay (optional)
- up to 5 drops of essential oils, like peppermint and/or tea tree (Neem oil is also sometimes used in skin and oral care products – it has antifungal properties and can be helpful if you suffer from angular cheilitis or other fungal problems in the mouth)
How to make it:
This one is easy. You just melt the coconut oil, add the dry ingredients and mix them in to make a paste, and then add your essential oils and mix them in. You should use a small pot or jar that you can easily scoop a small amount of paste from.