We have been using a natural toothpaste for years, its probably one of the first changes that we made from a "conventional" lifestyle to our current weird hippy lifestyle. At first I just wanted to avoid sodium lauryl sulphate in commercial toothpaste. But there are other ingredients that I also found suspicious, artificial sweeteners, flavours and fluoride all made me a little nervous. I don’t want to get into the conspiracy theories around fluoride (here is a relatively balanced article, and one from the other end of the spectrum), except to say that I’ve looked at the data on flouride and tooth decay and I’m not convinced that mass-flouridisation prevents tooth decay, so I’d rather avoid it. I bring my own rainwater to Brisbane so I don’t have to drink town water, so my consumption is fairly low.
Remineralisation is the concept that teeth decay can be repaired through normal cell regeneration if you eat a diet rich in minerals and fat-soluble vitamins, and add minerals to your toothpaste (more here and here). In particular, the minerals calcium, phosphorous and magnesium need to be available. There are many different recipes for homemade toothpaste and I wasn’t sure which one to use, so last time I went to buy toothpaste, I bought one of each brand available in the shop so that I could compare. If you don’t want to make your own toothpaste, you could choose one of these natural options as an alternative to commercial toothpaste.
This is the one that we’ve been using for a long time. It contains salt, so it took a little while to get used to the taste, but I prefer it now.
Ingredients: Aloe vera juice, sodium bicarbonate, bentonite, xanthan gum, sea salt, stevia, essential oils
I don’t think that xanthan gum or stevia are really necessary, but can’t do much harm in small amounts in toothpaste.
Redmond Earthpaste(other flavours available) (website)
This paste is brown due to the Remond Clay content. After you get over the colour, it just tastes like toothpaste.
Ingredients: water, Redmond clay, xylitol, Redmond salt, tea tree oil, menthol, essential oils
Again, the xylitol is not really necessary and I find the added menthol too strong (and question whether it is a natural ingredient, as it can be produced synthetically, I remember making it in first year chemistry lab).
Weleda Calendual Toothpaste (other flavours available) (website)
Ingredients: Water, Calcium Carbonate, Glycerin, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Alcohol, Calendula Officinalis Extract, Commiphora Myrrha Extract, Foeniculum Vulgare (Fennel) Oil, Xanthan Gum, Ammonium Glycyrrhizate, Limonene (from essential oils).
This one is marked as peppermint free, which had me worried (am I supposed to avoid peppermint too now?), but it turns out that relates to homeopathy. The fennel oil reminds me of Bongela teething gel (hate to think what’s in that product). While the mineral content of this toothpaste is good (calcium, magnesium and silica), the inclusion of glycerine has been shown to prevent remineralisation. Also Xanthan gum, Ammonium Glycyrrhizate (an extract from liquorice root) and limonene are not really necessary ingredients.
Making my own toothpaste
Base – water, aloe vera, coconut oil
Abrasive agent (and minerals) – baking soda, salt, clay and minerals
Flavour – essential oils, artificial sweeteners
Thickener/texture modifier – xanthan gum, glycerine
Preservative/antioxidant – vitamin E for oil based, or grapefruit seed extract for water based (surprised that none of the toothpastes I bought had a preservative ingredient listed)
Since I became aware of the possibility of remineralising toothpaste, it seemed like if I was going to make toothpaste anyway, I should include some minerals. The minerals suggested in recipes were listed as “calcium powder” or “magnesium powder”, but these minerals don’t appear in nature as discrete powders, these products have been refined. It makes more sense to me to raid the cow mineral buckets! Dolomite contains both calcium and magnesium, diatomaceous earth is mainly silica, as is bentonite clay. In their impure form, both will contain trace amounts of many other minerals, including phosphorus. Sea salt is another source of trace minerals.
If I had to make toothpaste from scratch, without buying anything, I would use aloe vera harvested from my garden as the base, but as that is not the most convenient option (I would have to process to aloe vera), for now coconut oil is my preference.
|homemade toothpaste - a bit muddy looking|
2 parts zeolite clay
5 parts dolomite
1 part diatomaceous earth
1 part sea salt
Measure out the dry ingredients and then add the coconut oil until the texture is suitable. Store in an airtight container (I bought small travel cosmetic containers) and only make a small amount at a time.
Its a bit sloppy in the summer heat and I'm not sure what it will be like in winter, I might have to use olive oil instead. It tastes salty, a bit minty, and gritty. If you go straight from a commercial smooth white chemical toothpaste, you might find this a bit odd, but its not much different to the other natural toothpastes. It makes my teeth feel very clean, so I like it. Pete even uses it, although he also asked me if there was any "proper" toothpaste, but more because he was wondering than refusing to use the homemade one. We will see if it improves my dental health....
Here’s some other recipes from blogland
Weedem and Reap
The Paleo Mama.com