Alternatives to toothpaste

Several weeks ago I wrote about the problems with toothpaste, and now I’ll share with you some options to toothpaste. What you eat and what you brush your teeth with are critical to your dental health, since teeth are mineralized through absorption of saliva.  That means that changing the quality of your diet will change the quality of your saliva (among other things), and if your teeth are properly cleaned (ie no glycerin coating from commercial toothpaste), they will be able to absorb minerals from your saliva.

There are lots of good options to toothpaste, most of which are very affordable.  I’ll start with some of what I’ve used:

Toothsoap – this is what I started using four years ago.  It’s a natural soap with added flavors, shredded and comes in a jar.  It was convenient since each child could use one shred, so I didn’t have to be concerned about all of them dipping their toothbrushes in.  It was effective, but very, very expensive.  So much so that I couldn’t justify the price, which is why I went on to look for other frugal choices.

Coconut oil – coconut oil is a primary ingredient in tooth soap, so it made sense to me that it could be used on its own.  However, since it solidifies at temperatures below 72 degrees, in the winter it’s not a great choice for us.  Plus, I couldn’t find a good way to dispense it for multiple children.  But dh and I use it in the summer.

Baking soda- this has an alkalinizing and odor reducing quality.  I like using plain baking soda, and the only caveat is that you have to use a very tiny amount.  I generally dip the tip of my brush in, and then rinse it slightly with water before brushing.  It’s an abrasive and if you were to use generous amounts on your teeth daily, it could affect your tooth enamel.  I’m used to the flavor and really like the sparkling clean feeling my mouth has after brushing.

Bar soap – This is a cheap option to toothsoap and works just as well.  Bar soap rinses off with two rinses, unlike the glycerin in commercial toothpastes that takes 27 rinses to come off, and allows the nutrients in your diet to be absorbed by your teeth.  It seemed unsanitary to have all the kids share one bar of soap for their teeth and I considered cutting a bar of soap into chunks so each child could have their own.  But practically speaking I didn’t see how they could each keep track of their chunk.  It’s hard enough for them to keep track of their toothbrushes (younger siblings have a way of walking off with them.:)).

My most recent experiment for them has been to buy a 2 oz bottle of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap – it comes in many flavors and isn’t expensive at all (though you do have to place a minimum order – but I got just enough for the minimum order and the half gallon of peppermint soap will provide us with enough refills for toothsoap for many years- and I can use it as a multi purpose cleaner, too).  This has worked really, really well for the kids. They are fine with the flavor (we got peppermint) and it’s easy to dispense.  So far this is by far my favorite option for children.

Homemade tooth powder – it’s very easy to make your own tooth powder.  Most of the ingredients can be found in your pantry. I made some for dh and I just because I was curious to try it.  Here are the basic categories that your ingredients will fit into:

Use any food grade clay – I used bentonite clay since that’s what I had in the house, but you can use red, yellow, green, or white clay as well.  Bentonite clay absorbs impurities, which is exactly what your mouth is filled with while brushing.

Then add an abrasive – you can use baking soda or salt.  If you use a high quality mineral salt like Real Salt, then you’re increasing the nutritional value of your tooth powder.

For flavoring, there are lots of options.  You can use any essential oils that appeals to you; I chose cinnamon because of the antiseptic properties of cinnamon, but most people would probably prefer peppermint.  As long as you like the flavor, I don’t think it matters that much.  Alternatively or in addition, you can use a powdered herb like cinnamon.

Nutritional boosters – now you can have some fun with this.  Basically you can throw in any powdered herb or real food that you like.  Spirulina, powdered ginger, powdered cloves – I decided to blend up some orange peels that I dehydrated a while back for the vitamin C content.  You can also leave these out completely.

Honestly, I don’t think that percentages matter much, because pretty much however you mix up whatever you use, it will be good.  I’ll share what I did, but it was my only version and I pretty much was trying to put in as many ingredients as possible so I didn’t have to choose between them.  :lol:  I’ll share suggestions to improve it at the end.

  • 4 T. stevia leaves (not processed stevia)
  • 1 T. orange zest
  • 1 T. bentonite clay
  • 1 T. Real Salt
  • 2 T. baking soda
  • a couple of drops of cinnamon oil

I powdered the stevia leaves and orange zest – be sure to sift them unless you want to end up with my version, which has tiny pieces.  (I could still sift it now, but it’s not a priority.)  Next, mix the powdered and sifted stevia leaves and orange zest together with the other dry ingredients.  Then add just a couple of drops of essential oil – since these are so powerful, you only need a tiny bit.  Mix it up and store it in a covered container in your bathroom.  Dip your moist toothbrush in it when you’re ready to brush your teeth.

What I’m happy with is the pleasant taste of the stevia and cinnamon oil.  What I would change for the next time is to make a choice – baking soda or salt – not both.  If you take my suggestion and use one or the other, you can double the amount of whichever you use, and totally eliminate the ingredient you don’t use, and the final proportions will stay the same.  Hope that makes sense!

As I said, this is what I had on hand so this is what I played around with. But I saw so many other possibilities just using the herbs and spices I had right in my kitchen cabinets.

(This post is part of Real Food Wednesday and Works for Me Wednesdays.)

Avivah

18 thoughts on “Alternatives to toothpaste

  1. Great minds think alike. I was at the health food store tonight with hubby thinking about the same thing. We bought a bar of Bronners hemp citrus orange pure castile soap. I am thinking about shredding it and adding a bit of water. I think I will add stevia and a bit of mint to it. Now I am wondering about the clay. Maybe I should add that to it too. I am going to keep the now “tooth soap” in a 1/2 pint jar for each of us to use. In case one of us gets a bit under the weather. I am just hoping that this works. We will have probably a years worth of soap for under $5.00.

    1. I’ve been using Tom’s of Maine to help with a canker sore problem for a couple years now – I checked the ingredients and it contains glycerine.

      1. Janet beat me to it, the glycerine is a problem even for a healthy toothpaste like Tom’s because it coats your teeth and keeps them from being able to absorb minerals.

        Some people might be bothered that Tom’s is now owned by Colgate-Palmolive, so it’s not the homey little ethical company that people associate it as being. But that’s not a health issue.

  2. I need to be sure I understand because I have never heard this before….you can brush your teeth with regular bar soap (obviously good quality)?????? That just blows my mind.

  3. Wow, that was great! But, I diverge slightly…
    Just going back to the CAUSE of cavities, we need to look to ancient wisdom. Rami Nagel has helped thousands of people learn the truth about what causes cavities. People who follow his program watch their teeth re-mineralize & harden, their cavities heal, and their gum disease vanish.
    The secret? (Here’s a hint: it’s NOT regular brushing and flossing.) Weston Price saw whole villages of natives who NEVER brushed, & had slimey coating on their teeth, but underneath that, they were pretty much perfectly healthy teeth & cavity-free! Sometimes, they used a (neem) stick to brush with:.:)

    Put simply, it’s all about proper nutrition. (Did you read Matt Stone’s blog about ‘Layla’s pearly white’s?) If you want the healthiest teeth possible, cut out processed foods, & eat:
    whole foods, freshly prepared,
    cod-liver oil fermented, & butter oil,
    yellow grass-fed butter,
    organs and glands, like bone marrow and liver,
    mineral-rich bone broths,
    raw grass-fed dairy (ActivatorX/ Vit. K2), &
    a variety of clean sea foods.
    Eating these foods regularly, which are rich in fat-soluble vitamins, will give you high immunity to tooth decay, as well as heal the damage done by malnutrition (SAD).

    Sorry to change the topic slightly, but I think the cause is more important then the treatment. We can’t put the cart before the horse.

    Rami has authored two books — Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition and Healing Our Children: Because Your New Baby Matters! Sacred Wisdom for Preconception, Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting (ages 0-6). You can find him online at http://www.curetoothdecay.com and http://www.healingourchildren.net.

  4. Tracy – welcome! You might also consider just shredding the Dr. B’s bar soap – if you do, then you can use a shred whenever you want to brush your teeth and don’t have to worry about keeping two separate containers for your individual tooth soaps. Your recipe idea sounds great to me, though!

    Christy, welcome! Yes, you can brush your teeth with soap. Too simple, isn’t it?!

    Anita – hi, and welcome! It sounds like we share similar convictions about nutrition and dental health! You probably noticed that I mentioned the primacy of diet a couple of times at the beginning of this post. In addition, I wrote a post on the topic of diet and their importance to dental health over two years ago – http://oceansofjoy.wordpress.com/2008/02/05/tips-for-improving-dental-health/. You’ll see there that I made all of the suggestions for improving one’s diet that you mentioned. I have yet to read Rami’s book but I’m aware of his work in this area.

    I also wrote a post a day before that (also over two years ago) questioning the role of tooth brushing in cavity prevention, and shared my belief that nutrition was far more important – http://oceansofjoy.wordpress.com/2008/02/04/trip-to-dentist-and-toothbrushing/.

    So though you haven’t been a reader of my blog long enough to realize that I’ve addressed these issues in the past, I hope you see that I didn’t put the cart before the horse by any means! :)

    Renee – hi, welcome, and I hope your experiment is a success!

  5. Avivah,
    Hi. I’m sorry, I looked around but didn’t find that you had written about that. And you have written a LOT about it. Thanks for the link, & I enjoyed that read about your children. And kinda funny too, I mean I had to laugh about the young one not brushing for weeks:)) reminds me of our youngest ☺
    And I didn’t mean you- putting the cart first, but some others might think brushing is more important than eating right, just like the dentist says.
    I’m just so EXCITED learning about these things new to me:), so please forgive me spouting off!
    I will follow your blog more closely from now on, but it would help if you could please put the links of previous writings at the top- just a thought:)

    1. No need for an apology, Anita – I’ve been blogging for quite a while and don’t expect everyone who comes for the first time to be aware of all that I’ve written! And I understand the passion about this information. When you learn how important diet is to just about every aspect of health and development, and then don’t see it addressed anywhere in the mainstream, it makes you just want to get that info out there, doesn’t it? :)

  6. hai,
    i am asok kumar, an indian, lives in kerala. while searching about the ill effects of tooth paste i read your writings.here in kerala our traditional way of teeth cleaning is with carbon.we collect rice husk . it is heated in a pot and burned.then made fine carbon powder from this husk.we add some black pepper powder and some salt with this carbon powder which absorb poison and prevent microbs.addition to this there are some tooth powders we make with various kind of local ayurvedic herbs.

    1. Hi, Asok, welcome! How interesting about burning the rice husk, this makes a lot of sense to me. Once our family went camping and forgot to take along dish soap, so we used the ashes from the campfire instead, and they worked better than dishsoap to get the dishes clean!

  7. Hi Avivah. I’ve only just stumbled across your blog as I was searching for a toothpaste alternative after learning about the dangers of fluorine and now thanks to you I’m also anti glycerine!

    I’m struggling to trace any dried stevia leaves and was wondering of you or any of your subscribers could point me to a good supplier. Are you in America or England? I found a good American one but want one in the UK if I can find one.

    Also, is stevia powder just powdered stevia leaves or is it processed with whoknowswhat?

    Many thanks!

    Steve

    1. Hi, Steve, welcome!

      I’m sorry, my source was from the US and I don’t know of any UK sources. But I’ll share where I got my stevia leaves in case it’s helpful for you – bulkherbstore.com.

      Stevia powder is much more processed than the leaves, which is why it’s a pure white. I don’t know details of how it’s processed, though.

      1. Thanks for the quick reply!

        And thanks for the link too. I think I may have to import some. I figured the white powder has been processed to death, but there are green powders available too. I imagine even they’ve had some processing so that’s why I want leaves.

        Are you still using this recipe in your house Avivah or have you improved it since?

        Thanks,

        Steve

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