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Dental Health and Homemade Toothpaste

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When I started on my journey towards natural foods and lifestyle I read a lot of bad stuff about fluoride. So I decided to switch to a more natural toothpaste…without fluoride. My next criteria was to avoid SLS (sodium laurel sulfate). That really limited the options. Almost every “natural” toothpaste I found has SLS. But Burts Bees doesn’t. So I’ve been using that for quite a while. And I have the children’s version for Rebecca. I figured I had avoided all the bad stuff. And Rebecca and I both like it.

Then a few months ago I started getting some very sensitive teeth. I’ve always had very healthy teeth. Sure, a few cavities, but overall very good. And I wondered what was going on. At my last dentist appt. they said they didn’t really see anything. Maybe the very beginning stages of receding gums. They thought it might be related to pg. But I knew it was more than that.

So recently I did some searching again, and read Donielle’s post about her search for natural toothpaste. And found the answer…at least what I think is the answer…glycerin. When companies make natural toothpaste and cut out the chemicals they turn to glycerin. Sadly glycerin coats your teeth and prevents it from remineralizing. So while I did cut out the chemicals, I also was not really helping my teeth. And I’m paying for it. And I DON’T want to ruin Rebecca’s teeth.

So of course I wanted to fix the problem asap. But if I can’t use regular fluoride toothpaste and I can’t buy a decent natural toothpaste, then what? I make my own 🙂  Over the last few days I’ve just been brushing with baking soda and water. It’s not a good long term solution since it can be harsh on your teeth. But I thought it was a good temporary solution to get the gylcerin off my teeth and avoid bad stuff. And today I made my first batch of homemade toothpaste. I looked at Donielle’s recipe and did some searching. I wanted something that was effective and safe for Rebecca (since she doesn’t spit yet). I found an easy recipe (almost identical to Donielle’s) on Lusa Organics. It’s mostly just coconut oil. So it’s safe to swallow. And it really is so easy to make. It only takes a few minutes. I tried it this morning. It did have a little bit of a soapy aftertaste at first. But it went away quickly. And I think after using it a few days I won’t even notice it. I’ve heard that if you add baking soda that can help eliminate the soapy taste. I’ll probably try it both ways. And keep experimenting to get the flavor just right. But this is good enough for now. I’m so happy to have found a healthy alternative that will hopefully help restore the health of my teeth. My mouth already feels much cleaner after only a few days of cutting out my “natural” toothpaste. It was like there was always a film I couldn’t get off. Now I know why. I’m anxious for Rebecca to try the toothpaste. Hopefully she’ll do ok with it. I didn’t add any sweetener since I don’t have xylitol or stevia. And I’m not sure how I feel about either of them. I figure if we can manage without it’s better for us.

I’ll update again sometime after using this toothpaste for a while. Hopefully I’ll notice some big improvements.

I also wanted to give a little info about the dangers of fluoride and conventional toothpaste:

*Fluoride is a toxic substance. Check the label on your toothpaste…it gives warnings about being poisonous. Keep out of reach of children. Doesn’t sound like something I want in my mouth. “If the formulation contains fluoride ion higher than 1000 ppm, it can cause poison; and the fluoride ion can react with calcium ion and magnesium in the human body and cause low level calcium ion and magnesium ion in blood. In some cases it has caused heart and muscle problems. If a child were to take a big spoonful of this fluoride and get it down, it is a poison that could kill the child. That is why the government has finally decided to act on this long standing issue regarding fluoridation.”

*Fluoride can impact fertility. It can cause various problems with sperm.

*”Chronic exposure to fluoride has also been linked to thyroid and neurological disorders, hormonal imbalances, and heart disease.”

*It can cause cancer.

*It can change bone structure and strength.

*It can cause birth defects and perinatal deaths.

*It has not been proven effective in preventing cavities.

*It impairs the immune system.

*It inhibits the body from using key enzymes.

Personally I’d rather not use it. And I don’t want my children exposed to it either. We use a water filter to eliminate the fluoride from our water and use fluoride free toothpaste. Any little bit we can do helps. How about you? Are you ingesting too much fluoride?

**Edited 12/26/10 – So, I have not used my glycerin based toothpaste in about 2 weeks. And my teeth are feeling so much better!!! Almost all of the sensitivity is gone. The one tooth that was REALLY bad still has a tiny bit. But nowhere near what it was. I can now brush my teeth and eat without pain. I plan to make a 2nd batch of toothpaste this week trying it with baking soda and stevia. See how that turns out.

A couple of not so good things. First, I realized my water filter does NOT filter fluoride 🙁  So disappointed about that. I’ll have to do some searching to see what other filters I can find. It would be ideal to have a filter right on our sink instead of having to keep filling a container.

Second…I have not found a solution for Rebecca yet. She was not a fan of the homemade toothpaste (I’ll have to keep experimenting with the recipe and flavors). So I went the opposite direction and let her try some of the nasty normal kids toothpaste with sweeteners, etc. I don’t like it, but at least it has less glycerin. But she gagged on it, puked up her breakfast and cried. So a no go there. For now I’ve been only using a tiny amount of the glycerin based toothpaste. And we just bought her a special princess “rinse cup” so hopefully we can start trying that out this week. If she’s rinsing that will at least help a little. Hopefully we’ll find a solution soon.

**Edited 2/21/11 – I have made 2 versions of homemade toothpaste. One is just Dr. Bronner’s, coconut oil, water and peppermint oil. The other adds baking soda and stevia to that. Both work really well. I try not to use the baking soda version too often so I don’t damage my teeth. My tooth sensitivity is almost completely gone. I only notice it once in a great while on one tooth.

I also finally got Rebecca to stop using Burt’s Bees. We use Kids Spry Tooth Gel. Works well.

Homemade Toothpaste

2 tsp. Natural Liquid Soap (try unscented Dr. Bronner’s or similar)
4 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
1 Tbsp. Water
2 Tbsp. Xylitol (optional)
1/2 tsp. Stevia powder
10-20 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
5-10 drops Spearmint or Sweet Orange Essential Oil

Boil a small pan of water. Measure out 1 Tbsp. of the water and stir into it Xylitol (optional). Stir to dissolve. Melt coconut oil and add to water mixture. Measure in soap and stevia and blend (a stick blender works well if you have one. Otherwise use your regular blender or whisk by hand like mad). Blend while the formula cools enough to stay combined. Add essential oils and transfer to a clean squeeze or pump bottle. Cool completely, shake well.


  1. Sara says:

    Great post! This is actually something I was going to touch on in my email response to you (November), too funny! I went to the dentist in November and was experiencing very sensitive teeth, too. One side was worse than the other for some reason, though. I thought I needed a new crown or something. They checked at my cleaning, nothing. Said to call back in a week if still a problem (it had been going on for about 6-8 weeks at that point, but was starting to get pretty uncomfortable). I called a week later and went back in, they took xrays this time to make sure. Still nothing. So I went searching online, too. Read Donielle’s post, and others. And figured out it was the same thing you identified, glycerin. I am against fluoride and all the chemicals, too, but I didn’t have the will that week to try making homemade. So I just went to the store and bought Crest for Kevin and me. It still makes me feel bad when we use it, but seriously w/in 2 days my sensitive teeth were gone! I figure we’ll use this tube and I’ll experiment with making it once we’re close to running out.

  2. Mary Voogt says:

    Justin still uses crest…never would try natural toothpaste. So we always have it in the house. I have used it a few times in the last couple weeks b/c I could tell a difference too. When I brush with the BB’s one of my teeth kills. With the crest it’s totally fine. I hope it doesn’t take too long to undo the damage. And I hope the homemade stuff works well. Justin read the post and said there is no way he’ll touch it 😛 I used it on Rebecca. She put up a fight as she always does with brushing. So no way of knowing her actual opinion.

    I had read Donielle’s post a long time ago…when she posted it. But I guess I didn’t take note of the glycerin parts. I just focused on flouride and SLS. Wish I would have realized it sooner. Oh well.

    The toothpaste was so easy to make. Only takes a few min. And I only used Dr. Br’s, coconut oil, water and peppermint oil. That’s it.

    I hope your teeth feel better soon too.

    What do you use for Carson?

  3. Sara says:

    Carson still uses Earth’s Best by JASON toothpaste. Its a glycerin-based one, but he pretty much rinses 20-30 times at least (as Donielle notes might be ok in her post) when he’s brushing, so I figure he’ll be ok to finish it up. He loves brushing his teeth, always have. I didn’t realize Rebecca wasn’t a fan.

  4. Mary Voogt says:

    She HATES brushing. Puts up a fight every time. We haven’t tried spitting in a while. I guess we should again. She actually puked this morning from brushing. I still had some old kids toothpaste (my little pony)…the kind w/ nasty sweeters, etc. I had bought it just before trying the BBs on her. So she had only used it once or so. I figured maybe it has less glycerin (not the first ingredient like on bbs). But she just gagged when I brushed her teeth…and puked up her breakfast. She was crying saying she just wants her Berry Bee (BBs). So no luck on her so far. She gagged both times yesterday with the homemade too. And says she doesn’t want the “coconut one.” So I’m still trying to figure out a solution for her. Maybe if she can start brushing herself and spitting she’ll get more into it. Hmmm…maybe I’ll let her pick out a cup for rinsing at Meijer this week. See if that helps.

  5. Sara says:

    I bought some new stuff for Carson last week. The tube of EB/JASON that we keep in his diaper bag was just about out, so I looked at our local health food store in Flint to see what they had. I looked it up on EWG on my phone, but they didn’t have it in their database. I looked up the ingredients and they all looked ok. So I bought it. Carson seems to like it. Maybe it’d work for Rebecca. It’s called Kid’s Spry Tooth Gel. Ingredients are: purified water, xylitol, calcium glycerophosphate, cellulose gum, natural strawberry and banana flavoring, grapefruit seed extract. I read that calcium glycerophosphate helps with remineralization. At first I thought it was a glycerin in disguise, but it doesn’t seem to be… though I haven’t done a lot of research, only for a few minutes on my phone before I bought it.

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