How to make your own natural toothpaste
Of all the things in my life that I have switched from commercial to natural, toothpaste has been the most challenging.
I really wanted to make the change because of all I’ve read about how bad commercial toothpaste is for you. It’s said that it also doesn’t allow your teeth to heal themselves, which they are apparently capable of doing, just like your bones. Commercial toothpastes often contain glycerin as a texturizer/sweetener/preservative that supposedly coats your teeth and therefore prevents them from remineralizing by way of your saliva. And then there’s the whole Fluoride debate. While Fluoride has been proven to help prevent tooth decay it is also toxic if ingested in large quantities and therefore, in my opinion, not something to mess around with. Another common ingredient in toothpaste is Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) which is a surfactant used in many detergents and soaps to make them foam. There’s so much badness connected to this chemical that I’m not going to get into them all here except to say that I avoid it wherever possible. This is a difficult task given the fact that it’s added to most soaps, cosmetics, shampoos, toothpastes, mouthwashes and thousands more products that come in contact with your skin. I’m continually trying to find ways to cut it out of my life.
My other big motivation is my 11.5 month old daughter who now has 5 teeth. I don’t know about you but I find it terrifying that the instructions on the tube warn heavily against letting your baby swallow the toothpaste and to use no more than a pea-sized amount. Why risk it??
Your toothbrush does most of the work in cleaning your teeth. Where your toothpaste comes in handy is in eliminating bacteria that causes gum issues and bad breath. The good news is that killing bacteria is easy and you don’t need an entire lab’s worth of chemicals to do it. My recipe uses coconut oil as the base. Not only does it give the toothpaste a great texture but it also naturally has anti-bacterial properties. Perfect!
The second main ingredient is baking soda, which is not surprising since baking soda has 100 million uses and is made of magic. Baking soda is great for cleaning your teeth because it removes plaque, whitens, and deodorizes. I have heard multiple people make skeptical noises about baking soda, believing its abrasiveness will erode your enamel, but according to the RDA scale, baking soda is a low abrasive. It has a rating of 7 where most commercial toothpastes fall anywhere between 35 and 200, and apparently anywhere from 150 upwards is considered “harmful”, so it looks like you’re pretty safe in the erosion department when it comes to baking soda.
The rest of the ingredients are sort of optional but I really recommend them because, honestly, baking soda tastes pretty terrible. This is where the challenge with homemade toothpaste comes in. Because we’ve all grown up expecting toothpaste to taste overwhelmingly minty and sweet, the switch to the salty flavor of baking soda is a tough one. It takes a bit of brain-wrapping for sure. I definitely struggled with it in the beginning and my first few batches of toothpaste got a bit out of hand from all the things I added trying to “fix” the taste. Let me save you a lot trouble (and supplies) by saying it will never taste as minty fresh as a tube of Colgate but that’s OK. Stop trying to “bend the spoon”; bend yourself instead. (I’ve watched The Matrix too many times.) Once you train yourself to appreciate the science of cleaning your teeth and all the good that nature has to offer, you start to become accustomed to the taste and stop thinking you need crazy chemicals and artificial flavors to feel normal and clean.
Are you sufficiently motivated to toss your tube of “chemical paste” now? Not yet? Did I mention this homemade natural toothpaste is way cheaper too? An added bonus, I think. Now let’s get on with it!
Natural Toothpaste Recipe
*You can make this recipe in any size. Just use equal parts of coconut oil and baking soda then add essential oil and Stevia to taste.
Mash the coconut oil and baking soda together with a fork. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined.
Store at room temperature in a small jar or icing bag.
And that’s it. Super easy, super affordable, super healthy.
Like many homemade healthcare products, the lowered level of convenience can be an adjustment but you do get used it. You may find it simplest to just keep it in a small jar and scoop it out with your clean toothbrush (or a popsicle stick if you think dipping straight into the paste with your brush is yucky). Or you can try keeping it in an icing bag which would work more like a conventional toothpaste tube.
I haven’t tried any flavors besides mint yet but I hear cinnamon essential oil is good in it too. I’m wondering what flavors would be good for kids. Maybe vanilla and/or orange? I’ll post an update when I try them out.
So what do you think? Do you like this recipe or is it too big of an adjustment for you and your family? We’d love to hear your thoughts!