Toothpaste from the store is full of all kinds of toxins that are incredibly bad for us - fluoride (yes - fluoride is bad for you!), sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan, artificial sweeteners and colors, just to name a few. Luckily, there are a couple of natural brands on the market that avoid most of these toxins. Another way to avoid putting anything poisonous into your mouth is by making your own toothpaste. It's fun and really simple, and with a few minor tweaks you can make it exactly how you like it.
To make a basic toothpaste, all you need are a few simple things.
- 1 c. bentonite clay or french green clay
- 2 t. sea salt
- 2 T baking soda
- just a few drops of peppermint oil (optional)
Grind all dry ingredients to a fine powder. [It is very important to grind your ingredients very, very well, so they do not scratch your teeth. An electric coffee grinder (reserved for grinding herbs, not coffee) or a mortar and pestle are both good options.] Mix dry ingredients together, then add enough water to make a paste. If you like, you can add 2-3 drops of peppermint essential oil. You can store your toothpaste in a glass jar with a lid, or even buy some refillable toothpaste tubes to keep it in.
Now, for the options:
- If you want to give your toothpaste extra shelf life, you can leave out the water, making what is called a "tooth powder." Store your tooth powder in a jar. Then, when you are ready to brush your teeth, put a teaspoon of the powder in the palm of your hand, and dip a wet toothbrush in the powder. Then brush your teeth as usual. Alternately, you could mix up the teaspoon of powder with some water to make toothpaste on the spot as you need it, then apply it to your brush.
- If you like a little sweetness to your toothpaste, you can add a little vegetable glycerine to your mix - start with a small amount and add to taste. This does not work for tooth powders, but is a great option for the toothpaste (with water version).
- If you have specific mouth-health concerns, you can add some finely ground dry herbs. This may seem strange, like using food to brush your teeth, but in my experience herbs like calendula and stevia make wonderful additions when added to tooth powders in small amounts. Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial (antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral), and antiplaque. Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) is antimicrobial (antibacterial) and antiplaque, and adds intense sweetness (use in very small amounts). Try adding 1t of either herb or both to your tooth powder.
For more information on herbs for a healthy mouth, I recommend "Dental Herbalism: Natural Therapies for the Mouth" by Leslie M. Alexander, PhD, RH(AHG), and Linda A. Straub-Bruce, BS Ed, RDH.