It is curious to observe how many people buy only organic and non-toxic mineral sunscreens, yet do not think that using a “bright blue” toothpaste every day might also be a problem.
There are many good reasons to make your own toothpaste, but the main one is that commercial brands of toothpaste contain toxic ingredients that are harmful to your health, such as fluoride, which is more than proven to be poisonous.
THIS ARTICLE IS THEREFORE BASED ON THE ADVICE OF DENTAL EXPERTS
“Don’t let toothpaste be an afterthought. The toothpaste you use can have a tremendous effect not only on your teeth, but also on your overall health.” Mark Burhenne, DDS. Source: https://askthedentist.com/diy-toothpaste/
Dr. Burhenne has been a practicing dentist for 35 years. He graduated from the Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, CA in 1987 and is a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), the Academy of General Dentistry (Chicago, IL), the American Academy of Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH), and the Dental Board of California.
This same dentist, Dr. Burhenne, talks in his blog about the best ingredients to use when making your own toothpaste and the ingredients to avoid. Because, just because we make our own homemade toothpaste doesn’t mean that we will automatically get a perfect recipe that won’t harm our teeth. We know a lot of blogs with recipes that are harmful to tooth enamel and even damage our microbiome.
So what is the point of avoiding fluoride toothpastes that damage our oral microbiome if we then make our own homemade toothpaste that has the same effects?
It is therefore important to know which ingredients to avoid and, on the contrary, which ingredients should be used in our homemade toothpaste.
WHY MAKE DIY TOOTHPASTE?
According to the same US dentist: “Many conventional brands of toothpaste contain harmful or even toxic ingredients, including:
-Triclosan. A pesticide and hormone disruptor.
-Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS). Causes canker sores in many people.
-Artificial colours. Linked to ADHD and hyperactivity in children. Toothpaste does not have to be blue.
-Fluorine*. Toxic if ingested and not even effective in toothpaste.
-Highly abrasive ingredients that damage enamel making teeth sensitive and more prone to gum recession and tooth decay.
Toothpaste should be only slightly abrasive: this graininess helps the brushing movement to remove biofilm from the tooth. In this case, glycerin, without being toxic, acts as a soap that strips the body’s natural oral mucosa of its healthy components, thereby altering the natural microbiome or biofilm of the mouth and gums. Unfortunately, there are almost no commercial toothpaste brands that do not contain glycerin and, even more seriously, many homemade toothpaste recipes also include glycerin.
*Today, the benefits of fluoride are strongly questioned even though it has long been proposed to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride has now been found to be a dangerous substance above a certain dose, with children being particularly vulnerable to it. Among other adverse effects, it may cause brain damage and hypothyroidism and the development of bone cancers in young boys. In 2010, the WHO also ranked fluoride among the top 10 most toxic products for the environment.
In itself, the composition of a toothpaste is not as important as the method of brushing, avoiding refined foods, highly vinegary foods, white sugar and alcohol. Furthermore, if we take a look at the ingredients of a toothpaste we will see that most of them contain some of the toxic ingredients listed above: sodium lauryl sulphate, triclosan, fluoride, petroleum derivatives or parabens, which have a proven long-term toxicity from chronic use.
BEST INGREDIENTS TO USE IN A HOMEMADE TOOTHPASTE
Coconut oil. Coconut oil has a depurative effect, mainly due to the lauric acid component. This oil respects and improves the gut microbiome (remember that the gut starts in the mouth) and naturally prevents candida in the oral cavity. It has been shown to help heal sore and bleeding gums and reduce oral fungal infections. Therefore, this component prevents tooth decay and bad breath and reduces gum inflammation.
Bay laurel berry oil. Like coconut oil, this oil has a high percentage of lauric acid, which makes it ideal for oral hygiene. However, it has the advantage that it hardens less than coconut oil in cold temperatures, which makes it easier to use in the preparation of our homemade toothpastes.
Sesame oil. The main advantage of sesame oil is that it does not harden like the previous ones, which greatly favours the preparation and packaging of our homemade toothpaste recipes. Sesame oil has also been widely used in the Ayurvedic tradition for its oral hygiene properties. Sesame oil is an excellent tool for neutralising acid and improving dental health. Sesame seeds are known to reduce plaque and help remineralise tooth enamel. Sesame oil forms a kind of soap in the mouth that helps to wash away plaque while polishing tooth enamel and preventing tooth decay, thus preventing bad breath and bleeding gums.
Partially ozonised oil. In principle, any quality cold-pressed oil will do. The most important thing in this case would be that the oil we use is partially ozonised, i.e. one that is safe to ingest. If you are going to prepare it yourself at home because you have the ozoniser device and a quality first cold-pressed oil, personally, we would not leave it in contact with the ozone for more than half an hour. A virgin olive oil, or linseed oil, for its richness in omegas, would probably be a good choice. Or, as we said, sesame oil, which is also widely used in the “oil pulling” technique to remove toxins from the oral cavity.
Cocoa powder. The theobromine in cocoa appears to promote remineralisation of tooth enamel rather than attacking it as fluoride does. A research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that one of the tannins in cocoa, theobromine, inhibits the activity of the oral enzyme dextransucrase, a key element in the formation of dental plaque, without which tooth decay would not occur.
Bentonite clay. A natural polish rich in minerals and not too abrasive. It is also alkaline, so it helps to reduce acidity in the mouth. Don’t be afraid to put “dirt” in your mouth: we’ve been brainwashed into thinking we have to sterilise our mouths with mouthwashes that kill “99% of germs”, but optimal dental health is actually about achieving a balanced ecosystem of bacteria in the mouth that protects us from disease and promotes remineralisation of our teeth. Clay contributes to the detoxification of heavy metals and toxins present in the mouth. On its own, bentonite clay has a negative charge, so it easily binds to toxins and carries them away. In industry, it is used to clean and polish exotic cars without damaging the finish.
Hydroxyapatite. Hydroxyapatite is a form of calcium that is part of the composition of our tooth enamel and dentine. The remaining enamel is composed of water, collagen and other proteins. It is considered an effective component for remineralisation of teeth, which can help heal cavities and prevent new ones. Furthermore, in a 2019 study published in BDJ Open, researchers found that hydroxyapatite was as effective as fluoride in preventing and reversing tooth decay in children.
Activated charcoal. Activated charcoal binds to the coating on our tooth enamel, which is usually bacterial plaque, let’s not kid ourselves, and extracts the toxins and chemicals that have adhered to it just as it does in hospitals where it is used to treat patients who have been poisoned. However, do not expect miracles, as it does not “whiten” the teeth and does not address the deeper damage and stains that occur inside the tooth.
Xylitol. Xylitol reduces bacteria in the oral cavity and makes it harder for them to adhere to tooth enamel. But you don’t want to add too much, as it is a sweetener: too much can reprogramme our taste buds to crave too much sweetness.
Erythritol. It belongs to the group of so-called polyalcohols, a group of chemical molecules that have the property of sweetening foods and beverages. Like xylitol, it is of completely natural origin as it comes from fruits and fermented foods. It has the property of inhibiting the proliferation of bacterial plaque and also prevents the formation of the fungus Candida Albicans. Stevia is another plant-based sweetener with similar properties to the above.
Sea salt. A pinch of salt rich in minerals and trace elements such as sea salts or Himalayan salts that provide us with the necessary minerals that are good for our teeth.
Food grade diatomaceous earth. For the same reason as sea salt, diatomaceous earth provides a large amount of minerals such as silica which are very important for remineralising teeth.
Sodium bicarbonate. Our teeth and mouth are constantly attacked by acids from the foods we eat. Neutralising these acids with vegetables and water is essential to maintain a proper pH in the mouth to support the right bacteria, as well as to protect the enamel from decay. Baking soda has a pH of 9 to 11 (alkaline), so it alkalises and helps neutralise acids without being too abrasive to teeth.
Vitamin E oil. Helps protect the body from free radicals with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Herbal extracts and active ingredients of plant origin. Each one with its different properties, personally, we think it may be interesting to include some of them, either in powder form or in the form of an oleate made with a base of vitamin E oil.
For example, extracts of parsley, mint, coriander, sage and even propolis powder have a mild antiseptic activity that fights harmful bacteria without disturbing the good bacteria.
ALTHOUGH, WITHOUT DOUBT, THE ONES WE WOULD CLASSIFY AS STAR HERBAL ACTIVES WOULD BE THE FOLLOWING:
Turmeric extract. Recent research suggests that turmeric promotes good oral health. For example, if we suffer from a gum infection, turmeric can be an effective remedy for our periodontal problems. According to an article published by Mejor con Salud, turmeric gum gel is effective in treating gingival inflammation because the action of curcumin is comparable to that of chlorhexidine.
Studies also suggest that turmeric can be used to fight plaque, which may explain turmeric’s reputation as an effective tooth whitening ingredient.
Ginger extract. This extract reduces gum inflammation and its antioxidant properties fight harmful oral bacteria and preserve the healthy oral microbiome.
Miswak extract. This extract is extracted from the Arak tree (Salvadora persica) and several scientific studies have shown that it has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, cariogenic and anti-plaque properties. They have also claimed that miswak has antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. The use of a miswak has an immediate effect on the composition of saliva. And finally, they have confirmed that the chemical and mechanical cleaning efficacy of miswak chewing sticks are equal to and sometimes greater than that of a toothbrush.
Neem extract. Traditionally in India, Neem extract has been used for its extraordinary virtues in preventing periodontal diseases. Hindus chew Neem twigs as a toothbrush. The sap from the twigs helps to clean the teeth while protecting the mouth from disease. Neem oil has astringent and antiseptic properties to prevent bad breath, destroy micro-organisms on the teeth and fight tooth decay. Neem is a powerful antioxidant that neutralises free radicals that can influence the development of infections and is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. It has antimicrobial effects and can be effective against various types of bacteria, viruses and fungi.
And the combination of clove and cinnamon extracts works to cleanse the liver and intestines from the inside, thus preventing dental plaque and halitosis. Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde, which according to an article in the National Center for Medical Science Information has been proven to have an antimicrobial effect in the field of dentistry.
As mentioned above, naturopathic medicine has traditionally used a whitening toothpaste recipe with equal amounts of calcium powder, cinnamon powder, bentonite clay and cloves.
RECIPE FOR HOMEMADE HERBAL TOOTHPASTE ACCORDING TO NATUROPATHIC TRADITION
The ingredients needed for this recipe are:
Two tablespoons of bentonite clay
Half a teaspoon of calcium powder (hydroxyapatite is the best option, but if you can’t find it, calcium carbonate is readily available).
Half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and half a teaspoon of ground cloves.
And coconut oil.
Grind the herbs in equal parts to a fine powder. Add the coconut oil and clay and mix in a glass bowl to the desired consistency. The herbal mixture alone can be stored in a jar by adding coconut oil to the toothbrush each time it is used. This unique paste is very beneficial for teeth, gums and mouth. It smells great and freshens breath.
The paste will only keep for a week at room temperature if the coconut oil and herbs are mixed together. It will last much longer if mixed with the oil on the spot.
INGREDIENTS TO AVOID IN OUR HOMEMADE TOOTHPASTE
Anything acidic. This American dentist recommends getting pH strips from Amazon to test the acidity of any homemade toothpaste. Ideally, anything we make should have a pH of 7 (neutral) or higher. Tooth enamel is made to resist acids, but teeth are often under constant acid due to the junk foods we eat on a regular basis. We know that tooth enamel is mainly made up of hydroxyapatite (calcium phosphate), so a diet rich in this mineral and in vitamin D, so that calcium is well absorbed, is essential for healthy teeth. Foods rich in calcium are green leafy vegetables, such as chard, kale, or nuts, such as almonds or sesame seeds.
Hydrogen peroxide. Yes, it is the same ingredient used in whitening products and it works, but not in the form of toothpaste and not as a mouthwash. For hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth, it needs to be held against the tooth for a long time and it is also very important that hydrogen peroxide is only applied to the tooth enamel; ideally it should not come into contact with the gums, tongue and soft tissues of the mouth, where it creates ageing free radicals.
In itself, it is not a very healthy tooth whitening solution and its effects are short term. A few weeks after hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening, the teeth become stained again due to drinks such as tea or coffee, red wine or even berries. A safer and more effective way to remove these surface stains from teeth caused by food or drink would be to use a toothpaste based on activated charcoal*, which is used in natural medicine for its ability to remove toxins.
Glycerine. We know that most commercial toothpastes contain glycerine, but if we are going to make our own homemade toothpaste, we should avoid it. Glycerine is not at all advisable as its use leaves a slippery coating that becomes a magnet for plaque. Instead of cleaning and protecting teeth, it makes our mouths more prone to cavities and other oral health problems. It is much better to replace it with bentonite clay, which not only remineralises our tooth enamel, but also cleans it very gently.
Essential oils should be avoided. This may come as a surprise, but essential oils have antibacterial properties that attack the delicate balance of bacteria in our mouth. We aim to restore the healthy oral microbiome, not kill it. Killing the good bacteria can set the stage for poor oral health, bad breath and other imbalances. Good bacteria are very important. There are exceptions to this rule, such as anise or fennel essential oils.
And for this same reason, to respect the skin microbiome, this blog does not encourage the indiscriminate use of EOs in cosmetic products as other bloggers do on their pages. Only in deodorants and some shampoos and tonics in very small quantities so that the benefits of using them outweigh the disadvantages of their biocidal effect on our natural skin barrier.
WHAT ARE THE BASIC INGREDIENTS FOR A HOMEMADE TOOTHPASTE?
Green clay or bentonite because it remineralises our tooth enamel by dragging bacteria and toxins without harming the natural bacterial plaque on our teeth.
A teaspoon of bicarbonate to help clean our teeth by combating the acids that attack the enamel.
And a little oil to combine both ingredients (the clay and the bicarbonate) for easy packaging and subsequent use.
As we have been saying, coconut oil, due to its high lauric acid content, which promotes dental health, is the ideal oil for making homemade toothpaste. In case we do not want to use coconut oil because of its hardening problems, laurel berry oil also has a high lauric acid content and sesame oil is also frequently used in Ayurvedic medicine to care for oral health.
Babassu oil also has a high lauric acid content, but precisely because of this high lauric acid content, it also hardens like coconut oil and has the same problems. It is better to use laurel berry oil, which remains semi-solid and is more malleable for our recipes, or even cold-pressed sesame oil.
Another key ingredient when making homemade toothpaste is baking soda, which has become the main component of commercial fluoride-free toothpastes such as Parodontax brand toothpaste.
Sodium bicarbonate is a natural and gentle cleaning agent with a very low abrasion coefficient. Secondly, it is alkaline and therefore neutralises the acids in the mouth that are often the cause of tooth decay. Baking soda also helps to keep breath fresh. In Germany it is widely sold under the name natron and, as in England, is often used as baking powder. For toothpaste, it is best to take a baking soda with a very fine grain structure.
In principle, the use of essential oils should be avoided unless it is a couple of drops, for example of anise or fennel EO, which, as we said, fight harmful bacteria without altering the healthy microbiota. Or, in our opinion, it is even possible to add a couple of drops of lemon EO, which is very refreshing and hardly affects the final result. Of course, it is advisable to use pure organic essential oils of therapeutic quality.
*And, although tea tree oil is widely advertised for oral hygiene, personally, we would never use it because it is considered too strong, as our American dentist rightly points out.
Optionally, it is also possible to add a little xylitol. Xylitol helps to prevent caries and is particularly interesting in children’s toothpastes because of its pleasant sweetness. Its action is based on the fact that the bacteria responsible for tooth decay, Streptococcus Mutans, cannot digest xylitol and therefore dies. In addition, xylitol prevents bacteria from adhering to tooth enamel in the form of plaque. In addition, xylitol promotes the production of saliva (which is antibacterial).
Stevia or erythritol would have similar properties. *However, if we are going to add one of these sweeteners it would probably be better to replace the oil in our recipe with a more suitable base (e.g. aloe vera) as sugar (xylitol, etc.) tends to degrade the composition of our toothpaste more quickly and we would therefore not be able to keep it out of the fridge.
As you will see below, it is possible to add all the extras you consider most interesting to a basic pasta and thus complete the recipe to your liking.
A teaspoon of bentonite clay to remineralise tooth enamel. This is the extra we like best because of the green clay’s ability to carry away oral toxins while remineralising the tooth enamel and alkalising the oral cavity to protect it from future infections.
A teaspoon of food grade diatomaceous earth, which provides silica and other interesting minerals but also gives our toothpaste a spongy consistency that makes it easier to use.
One or two teaspoons of aloe vera gel, which makes the toothpaste a little more liquid and helps to care for the gums.
A teaspoon of cocoa powder, which, as mentioned above, inhibits the formation of dental plaque, preventing tooth decay more effectively than fluoride.
A teaspoon of activated charcoal, which helps to remove toxins from dental plaque.
A teaspoon of calcium carbonate or, better, hydroxyapatite. Obviously, to add calcium to the tooth enamel.
Half a teaspoon of xylitol, erythritol or stevia. These sugars have been shown not to be fermented by the bacteria in the oral cavity that cause tooth decay. As they are not fermented, they prevent the demineralisation of enamel and the proliferation of bacteria that produce dental plaque.
Half a teaspoon of any of the active plant ingredients mentioned above, e.g. half a teaspoon of turmeric powder, ginger, neem, miswak, etc…
LET’S GO WITH THE MOST BASIC AND EFFECTIVE RECIPE
The homemade toothpastes proposed by this American dentist in his blog include water, we don’t know if this is to make the incorporation of coconut oil easier as we have doubts that two teaspoons of water would be enough to soften the oil. In any case, the addition of water forces us to use preservatives in our homemade toothpaste.
If we live in a tropical paradise with a constant temperature above 20 degrees Celsius, it is advisable to prepare our usual toothpaste with coconut oil. But if this is not our case, we advise you to reconsider using bay berry oil as a substitute. This way you can easily pack your toothpaste, take it with you on trips and extend its shelf life by avoiding the daily unhygienic scratching in the glass jar as with coconut oil-based toothpastes.
BASIC RECIPE WITH BAY BERRY OIL
Our alternative recipe with bay berry oil forms a much more malleable paste than coconut oil and avoids the addition of the ever problematic preservatives.
3 tablespoons bentonite clay
Half a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda
Half a teaspoon of hydroxyapatite, if available.
Bay berry oil (usually 1/3 of the mixture) to make a malleable paste.
It is that simple to prepare a basic, effective and easy-to-apply homemade paste that can also be packaged for hygienic application, prolonged viability and travel.
Put the clay, the bicarbonate and the hydroxyapatite in a small ceramic mortar and pestle, stirring well so that it all becomes a very fine powder and when the bay berry oil is added, it all becomes a mass that is easy to apply and pack.
We have packaged it in this little plastic dosing tube that they sell in the aroma-zone online shop.
But if you don’t have a small tube like this one, it is also possible to pack it very conveniently in an aluminium one of those that are sold for home-made sauces.
These tubes are relatively easy to close with universal pliers by folding them at the back.
EXAMPLES OF HOMEMADE TOOTHPASTE RECIPES
It is important to understand that all these homemade pastes that we propose below do not contain preservatives and that it is therefore important to preserve them in measuring jars or glass containers to keep them in good condition. In some cases, depending on the composition of the recipe, it may be necessary to keep them in the refrigerator to prevent the proliferation of bacteria.
It is also interesting to know that toothpaste powders (based, for example, on active plant ingredients such as turmeric, miswak, etc.), as they do not contain water, remain in perfect condition indefinitely. And, in many cases, they can also be used, with the addition of water, as base mixtures for mouthwashes and mouthwashes.
HOMEMADE SEA SALT WHITENING TOOTHPASTE RECIPE
Two tablespoons of coconut oil.
A spoonful of clay.
One teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda.
Half a teaspoon of fine sea salt.
A few drops of aniseed essential oil, optionally.
This is a very basic recipe but it works very well as a whitener due to the sea salt that has this effect on our tooth enamel. And you can use any type of quality salt. Also, if we want to whiten, we can add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder which reinforces the whitening effect and cleans deeply.
The easiest way to work is when the coconut oil is at room temperature and soft. If it is hard, put it in a bain-marie. Then add the clay, baking soda and sea salt, and finally the essential oil droplets. Continue stirring well until the coconut oil has thickened.
When the mixture has a creamy consistency, put it in a clean glass jar and let it cool. To use the toothpaste, use a spoon or spatula to scoop some out of the jar.
We do not advise you to pack this coconut oil mixture in a measuring tube, because when the coconut oil hardens it is impossible to extract. However, you can leave the glass jar in your sink without refrigerating it, because the coconut oil keeps the mixture very well.
RECIPE FOR HOMEMADE PASTE BASED ON MISWAK EXTRACT AND ACTIVATED CHARCOAL
Ingredients for about 50 grams of product:
Half a teaspoon of calcium carbonate or hydroxyapatite.
Two tablespoons of bentonite clay.
1 tablespoon miswak extract powder.
Half a teaspoon of powdered activated charcoal.
Neem oleate in cold pressed olive oil.
*In this recipe we wanted to use neem oil instead of coconut oil because of the properties of neem for the gums, as well as the fact that neem oil does not rancidity and remains in good condition indefinitely. But you could also use, for example, jojoba oil, which does not rancid either, or even ozonated oil.
Previously, we have crushed all the extracts and powders in a ceramic mortar to ensure that they are well integrated and to avoid the formation of lumps.
We then added the Neem macerate to our powders until a paste was formed. The ratio is usually 3/1. In other words, for every three parts of powder, there is more or less one part of oil, so that the mixture does not become too fluid. It is best to add the oil a little at a time and see how it thickens.
HOMEMADE TOOTHPASTE POWDER
It is also possible to use powder instead of paste, and in this case, by avoiding the addition of oil, the shelf life of our product is extended indefinitely. In this case, we will need a container like this one to be able to use the powder properly.
This toothpaste powder recipe does not contain coconut oil because it is a powder recipe. However, when brushing, we can mix our powder with coconut oil if it is melted or, if not, with any other oil with the properties mentioned at the beginning of our article.
70 g of white clay or bentonite powder
30 g xylitol (= birch sugar, prevents tooth decay)
3 g bicarbonate of soda
PROCEDURE: Grind the xylitol to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle, add the white clay and bicarbonate and mix well. And pack in a glass jar if you do not have a powder dosing container.
ADDED: In a toothpaste powder recipe it is very easy to add herbal extracts. We will choose one or two herbal extracts to make our mixture more effective.
Turmeric, for example, is highly effective in addition to whitening teeth, combined with ginger powder even more so.
But adding miswak powder is also a very good idea because it contains natural fluorides. Or neem powder, which protects the gums and reduces inflammation. Etc…
NATURAL MOUTHWASH RECIPES FOR MOUTHWASHES
Mouth rinses can be used before or after brushing your teeth. They can also be used between brushings when it is not possible to brush easily during the day. They are also used as a gargle for a sore throat.
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 drops of fennel or anise essential oil (optional)
One cup of distilled water or ozonated water
*This rinse can be kept indefinitely if we set the powders aside and add the water to them at the time of use. Even if we do not do this, it is also unlikely to spoil due to the alkalinity of the salt and baking soda.
Add all ingredients to a glass bottle with a lid and mix well. Shake the mouthwash well before each use, as the baking soda and salt settle to the bottom when not in use.
HERBAL MOUTHWASH FOR THE THROAT
200 ml of water boiled in thyme or any other herb of your choice.
1 tbsp bicarbonate
1 tbsp salt
Boil the water with the thyme. Add the bicarbonate and leave to cool. When it is cold, add 2 or 3 drops of lemon essential oil. Keep it in a glass bottle in the fridge between uses.
Mouthwashes can be used before or after brushing teeth. Also, in this case, to gargle if you have a sore throat, as one of the properties of thyme is to relieve this type of symptom.
Alternatively, it is also possible to use other types of herbs and extracts depending on the properties we are looking for in our mouthwash.
For example, thyme is known to have antiseptic properties, rosemary and chamomile are anti-inflammatory and ginger is analgesic. It is also possible to use hydroglycerine extracts or herbs infused in ethanol, vinegar or glycerine.
While the salt and alkalinity of baking soda help to preserve this type of mouthwash, it is better to make small batches more frequently rather than keeping a large supply for a longer period of time.