True, the store bought factory produced toothpaste comes in beautiful white pastes and colorful gels, but may contain ingredients that you don’t want to put into your mouth. The main purpose of toothpaste is to provide a little abrasion to support the bristles of your toothbrush to break up biofilm. However, toothpaste can provide added benefits such as rebalancing the pH level in your mouth, remineralizing your teeth and reinvigorating the bacteria.
Of course, you can brush without any toothpaste at all and that is perfectly fine. It will still clean your teeth and gums. Making your own toothpaste is quick, takes just a few minutes, and is pretty easy using common ingredients you probably already have at home. Toothpaste is only one aspect to a healthy mouth. A healthy diet is just as important, please refer to the section below on Remineralization. We’ll offer some of our favorite recipes up front, and if you want to dive deeper, there is more information that follows so you can impress your dentist at your next visit!
Our Favorite Toothpaste Recipe
Let’s take a look at the ingredients in our favorite recipes and encourage you to experiment with the ingredients listed below. The most popular base for toothpaste is coconut oil. It has a nice texture that blends well with the other ingredients. However, our experience shows that the oil gets all over the toothbrush and is not easy to clean. For that reason, our preferred recipe for an alternate base is using Aloe Vera Gel. So here’s our favorite toothpaste recipe…
Aloe Vera Toothpaste
- 4 TB Baking Soda
- 2 TB Aloe Vera gel
- 1 TB Bentonite Clay
- ½ Tsp Himalayan Salt
- 15 drops Essential Peppermint Oil or Fresh Mint Leaves (crushed)
- 30 drops of Liquid Trace Minerals
- 10 drops Stevia extract (optional)
- 1 tsp Filtered Water (as required)
- Mix dry ingredients together: baking soda and bentonite clay
- Mix wet ingredients together: Aloe, water, peppermint oil and stevia
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk with a fork
- Store in a sealable glass jar
* Important: Do not store the paste in a metal container, it deactivates the bentonite clay.
Coconut Oil Toothpaste
- 4 TB Baking Soda
- 4 TB Coconut Oil
- ½ Tsp Himalayan Salt
- 15 drops Essential Peppermint Oil
- 30 drops of Liquid Trace Minerals
- 10 drops Stevia extract (optional)
Mix ingredients together in container starting with the coconut oil, followed by the baking soda. You may find the paste seems watery at first. It will take a little time to cure. We found if you place the mix in the refrigerator will help the paste solidity.
Aloe Vera gel is well known in skin care products but also makes a great base material for toothpaste, too! It has anti-inflammatory as well as antibacterial and cleansing properties and is safe to use. Best of all, it is sustainable as the leaves will regenerate on your plant. Note it does have a short shelf life.
It serves dual functions as both a mild abrasive and its alkalinity of pH 9 to 11 helps neutralize the acids in our mouth and teeth from the foods that we eat. Eating more vegetables and drinking water is the most effective way to maintain a healthy pH level in the mouth. Of course, you can brush with just baking soda and water though it doesn’t taste very good.
Bentonite Clay:(Dichotomous Earth)
Bentonite Clay is a mild abrasive and gentle polish that contains trace minerals that may contribute to the remineralization process, and its alkalinity helps balance your mouth’s acidity. It also absorbs and removes toxins from your mouth similar to activated carbon.
Coconut Oil naturally reduces cavity causing bacteria including the fungal infection candida in your mouth. It can boost the microbiome in your gut, but only if ingested. We don’t recommend eating your toothpaste.
Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt
Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt is an increasingly popular ingredient in toothpaste because of its anti-bacterial properties. It is also an alkalinizer to rebalance the pH in the mouth, and may even aid in the demineralizing of teeth. It adds a soft abrasion.
The hottest trending ingredient for teeth whitening. Carbon is used in air and water purifiers because it draws out the toxins/stains. However, use with caution because it is highly abrasive and actually may inhibit the remineralization process. Furthermore, it is not clear if it is actually effective at whitening the teeth by drawing out the stains or only as an abrasive because the time it takes when actually on the teeth may not be long enough to work its magic.
Well known as a stain-inducing spice commonly used in Indian dishes. But is actually a strong whitening ingredient that also fights gingivitis and may help remineralization. Taste wise, well, takes some getting used to.
Essential Oils normally used to add flavor. Use in moderation as some can be harmful to the mouth’s microbiome.
Liquid Trace Minerals
Liquid Trace Minerals are easily added to any toothpaste mix to help remineralize teeth. All it takes are a few drops. Recommend: Liqumins Trace Mineral Drops
Calcium & Magnesium Powder
Calcium & Magnesium Powder are obvious additions to any mix being the primary nutrients in the remineralization process.
Spices such as mint, cloves, and cinnamon will add a nice flavor if used in small doses. Mix with the powdered versions.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol which is attractive to bacteria. However, they cannot actually metabolize sugar alcohols and will end up dying. It may also aid in remineralization. An alternative is Erythritol.
Stevia only functions as a sweetener. If you decide to include it in your mix, make sure it doesn’t contain added glycerin.
This is a thickening agent to stabilize the ingredients. Use with caution as it can cause digestion problems if swallowed. We use Tapioca Starch in place of Guar Gum for similar effect.
Filtered Water can be added if the toothpaste is too thick. Though, if not filtered, the water may shorten the shelf life of the toothpaste. It is not really a problem since you would probably have used up the toothpaste long before.
Harmful Ingredients in Commercial Toothpaste
Commercial toothpaste often includes a number of ingredients for a variety of reasons – whether to enhance the flavor, the color, texture, increase the shelf life, are cheaper though lower quality substitutes. Some of these ingredients are potentially harmful. Most are just unnecessary.
While there are not many conclusive studies performed on the ingredients listed below, there does seem to be a large enough body of knowledge that suggests these ingredients are best avoided especially where there is a healthy alternative.
Propylene Glycol is used as an emulsifier in commercial toothpaste. It is a common irritant to skin and eyes and may lead to toxicity issues in organs. Not to scare you, but the industrial grade versions of this mineral oil are used in antifreeze, paint, industrial enamel, and airplane de-icer.
An unnecessary ingredient that is a non-toxic soap that can negatively impact the microbiome in your mouth and impede the natural remineralization process.
Saccharin/ other artificial sweeteners
Saccharin/ other artificial sweeteners/ is commonly found in many commercial kinds of toothpaste as flavor enhancers. However, they can contribute to various health issues such as diabetes and obesity.
It is a known pesticide, hormone disrupter, and possible carcinogen… ‘nuff said.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a common additive in a number of personal care products including shampoos and soaps. It may interfere with your taste buds by breaking up the phospholipids on your tongue. And if that isn’t enough reason to avoid, note that it is also registered as an insecticide with potentially toxic effects on marine life.
Hydrogen Peroxide is a popular ingredient in teeth whitening products and though not harmful, also not effective as it requires a period of time to work. It also may not be good for gums and oral tissue.
Fluoride is the most controversial ingredient on this list. Often promoted as a re-mineralizer for teeth, it has many potential health risks. We write about in our post on water filtration here. Ultimately it is an unnecessary risk as you can easily substitute other natural ingredients to perform the same role.
In summary, this is just a small list of some of the most common ingredients added to commercial toothpaste, but not inclusive. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, you can research it on this database: http://www.ewg.org.
However, at NaturaLiving, we ask why take the risk, if you have questions about the ingredients in products you use. Why take the chance? Especially when there are easy natural alternatives that are just as effective, if not more so.
For a complete selection of essential oils 100% pure and natural, we recommend you visit Plant Therapy.
Remineralization of Teeth
What is remineralization?
We’ve spoken a lot about remineralization. But what is it, why is it important, and how to promote the process? Remineralization is your body’s mechanism for preventing cavities. It helps by fighting the growth of dental caries, the term for cavities or tooth decay caused by certain strains of bacteria. Remineralization occurs when your saliva washes over your teeth. The saliva contains important nutrients and enzymes that help build the protection on the teeth, diluting plaque acid and providing mineral ions into the plaque fluid to promote remineralization of caries. The best way to ensure your saliva contains all of the necessary nutrients is through a healthy diet.
A diet to prevent tooth decay
Important elements to consider in the diet are to include enough fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), restrict sugar as this feeds the bacteria that cause caries and Phytic Acid. Phytic acid is converted by the body to phytates that by their nature are not absorbable by the body, and draw out calcium that then binds to them. Since they are not absorbed by the body, they carry the calcium out. Foods that contain high levels of phytic acid include seeds, nuts, bran, oatmeal, and soybeans.
There is a correlation between diets high in phytic acids (grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes) and high rates of tooth decay. Soaking and fermenting can reduce the phytic acid in some foods, but awareness of the overall consumption is the best way to moderate intake. Seek to reduce phytic acid containing foods and increase fat soluble vitamin and mineral-rich foods.
For more information, we recommend the book “Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition” by Rami Nagel.
- Reduce consumption of seeds, nuts, grains, and legumes and where possible soak or ferment first.
- Reduce consumption of sugars from fruits and of course refined sugars, and starches particularly from vegetables like potatoes, as well as from rice and pasta.
- Increase intake of healthy fats. This step can be easily incorporated into any diet. Simply add coconut oil or high-quality butter to your morning smoothie, coffee, and any food. The added benefit is that the fat will also make you feel full so you will eat less.
- Supplements may need to be added to your diet depending on the quality of the vegetables you consume. Fish oils and Vitamin D.