There are lots of types of toothpaste available on the market, and it can be confusing to know which one to choose. You can even make your own toothpaste, but why would someone consider doing that?
Toothpaste Ingredients That Might Be Harmful
Certain common ingredients in many toothpastes might actually be harmful to people. Some of the ingredients that many people worry about include:
- Fluoride is added to city water supplies, used in many kinds of toothpaste, and applied directly to teeth at the dentist's office, especially in childhood, to slow tooth decay. Too much can damage the teeth, and there are other potential harmful effects, too. Bone weakness and endocrine disturbances, such as thyroid dysfunction, may be associated with high fluoride intake.
- Glycerin, which sweetens and helps prolong the life of your toothpaste, is thought by many to coat the teeth unnaturally and prevent remineralization. There hasn't been conclusive research on this, however.
- Sodium lauryl sulfates are commonly found in toothpaste, and these compounds help create foaming. They are sometimes claimed to be carcinogens, but there is no conclusive research proving that.
- Artificial sweeteners can be a problem, especially in children's toothpastes, when they might be swallowed.
Check with your dentist to determine the right toothpaste alternative for you.
Alternatives to Conventional Toothpaste
If you wish to avoid fluoride, glycerin, and sodium lauryl sulfates in your toothpaste, here are a few options:
- Dr. Bronner's Soap has tooth brushing as a use on its label. Use a drop or two on a wet toothbrush, and rinse well after brushing.
- Formulated natural toothpaste such as Uncle Harry's that doesn't contain those three ingredients or artificial sweeteners.
- A DIY toothpaste with simple ingredients can be made and used at home as needed.
- Brushing without toothpaste. The action of the toothbrush itself, with plain water, can manually remove plaque without toothpaste.
An Easy DIY Toothpaste Recipe
If you're interested in trying a do-it-yourself toothpaste, here is a recipe you can try:
- 7 tablespoons of coconut oil (solid form, not fractionated)
- 7 tablespoons of baking soda
- 30 drops of essential oil (consider leaving this out if children who might swallow some will be using the paste)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of stevia or xylitol
Mix the ingredients together to form a paste. Brush normally.
Xylitol is a natural sweetener that has been shown to help fight oral bacteria and decrease tooth decay and cavities. However, it should be used with caution in homes with dogs because it is extremely toxic to them if ingested, resulting in dangerously low blood sugar and possibly liver failure. Cats might be similarly affected.
Coconut oil might have bacteria-fighting capabilities on its own, and oil pulling is another thing to consider doing to enhance your dental care routine.