I am a registered Dental Hygienist. I have been practicing for 15 years now. I currently just work on Tuesday for an amazingly kind and thorough dentist. His name is Brandon Robison and our office is called Robison Dental. So, this post is going to be controversal, especially to those I went to school with and work with. I relate it to a doctor or nurse who all they learned in school was what type of medication is used to treat what problem. Well I learned was the Flouride was and is necessary to have healthy teeth and no cavities. Over the last five years as I have read and re-read studies, all condradicting each other from the integrative medical perspective and then the ADA’s perspective. If I have learned anything over the last few years, it is to be open minded and also just to try it out and see for myself. So this is my experiment. As we are slowly changing all of our beauty products out for natural, nourishing replacements, I am ready to try the same thing with toothpaste. Call me crazy, but what I have read just makes sense to give it a try. I am going to post here a recipe from the internet that I am going to make and use. I will even show you a quick video.
I have always used a floride toothpast, and the last few years have used a more natural floride toothpaste like Tom’s. Even though these toothpaste did provide more natural ingredients, there were still some ingredients like Glycerine that were in every brand I could find. Glycerine prohibits the update of minerals into the tooth which I will explain more below. I have read study after study about Fluoride these last few months and I think it is time for me to test this fluoride theory out.
Just so you know where we are coming from. All four of my kids have had check ups every 6 months since they were two years old. We haven’t ever had a cavity in any of our children. They have always had fluoride treatments with a varnish fluoride every 6 months at their cleaning. At our last apt the dentist said that Isaac has a very small cavity starting in one of his babyteeth, but should be losing the tooth anyday now so we aren’t going to fill it. All the other kids are cavity free. They will be using this home made toothpaste as well as Adam and I. Adam and I both have a mouth full of fillings. I never had many cavities as a child until I started to drink Mountain Dew in 6-7th grade. I had about 12 cavities that were starting after that year. It ruined my teeth. In 8th grade I had a basketball coach tell me how bad soda was for you and I never had one again and is still true to this day. Most of the cavities slowed down, but I still got cavities all through college. In the last five years, I have had two small cavities. One on my molar after I had my last child and then again about 6 months ago. I still seem to get cavities often even though I floss every night and minimize my sugar intake. I also am very diligent with eating whole foods and taking supplements. Adam is about the same. He has some crowns and root canals in his mouth and still gets the occasional little cavity here and there but also flosses everyday along with good brushing habits. This is another reason why I am so curious about trying something different. I have ALWAYS used fluoride and ALWAYS had cavities. I know more is at fault than fluoride, but I am curious to see what changes I can make and what the outcome will be. I will keep you updated on our next few check ups and see how things look. I don’t brush my kids teeth for them, except to help Mya, and I don’t floss them. They do brush morning and night but that’s about it.
Here are the reasons why I think this is worth giving a try. I have read this over and over from many different sources and I believe in why the ingredients are not good for us.
Most commercial toothpastes – even many of the “natural” ones – contain fluoride. Unfortunately, a Harvard study recently linked fluoride to lowered IQ in children, while additional research has associated it with weakened bones, thyroid suppression, lowered metabolic function and dementia. (source 1, source 2, source 3)
Is it possible to remain cavity-free without fluoride? Great question. According to Dr. Hardy Limeback, DDS, PhD, who has served as head of the Department of Preventive Dentistry at the University of Toronto and president of the Canadian Association for Dental Research, “You can get perfectly healthy teeth with resistant enamel without having any kind of fluoride exposure.” (source)
Glycerin is used in almost all toothpastes because it helps create a pasty texture and prevents it from drying out. Though it’s non-toxic and I love to use it in homemade beauty formulas, glycerin is not something I want in my mouth. Why? Because it coats the teeth in a way that prevents normal tooth remineralization. Though most of us were raised to believe that minerals cannot be returned to the structure of the tooth itself, there is good data suggesting that it can. If the concept of remineralization is new to you, I recommend you check out this post from Wellness Mama.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
SLS is a foaming agent and detergent that is commonly used in toothpaste, shampoo, and other products used to do things like, um, degrease car engines. Why should we avoid it? Though some people have concerns that it may be an estrogen mimicker, I’d say the most obvious and substantiated reason is that it increases gum inflammation and mouth ulcers. According to a study conducted the Department of Oral Surgery & Oral Medicine in Oslo, Norway, individuals who used a toothpaste containing SLS suffered from more ulcers (canker sores) than those who used an SLS-free toothpaste. (source)
Used to make toothpaste look white, titanium dioxide is sometimes used in it’s nano-particle form. (source) It’s also used in salad dressings for the same reason, and I wrote here about why that might be a problem.
So What Do I Use Instead?
The great thing about ditching toothpaste is that there’s no “right” way to replace it. Many things, like tooth soap and even coconut oil will work, but after a lot of experimentation I concluded that the recipe below works best for my family. Here’s a breakdown of what each ingredient does:
Yes, I’m talking about the stuff I wash my hair with. Bentonite clay is a gentle cleanser that is rich in minerals which support tooth remineralization. It’s detoxifiying properties help freshen breath and fight gum disease, while it’s adsorptive properties help remove stains from teeth. (See Activated Charcoal for more about adsorption)
Baking soda is a mild abrasive tooth polish that helps mechanically remove stains while other ingredients such as clay and activated charcoal draw them out. It also helps freshen breath.
Unrefined sea salts such as this one and this one contain 60+ trace minerals that aid in tooth remineralization. Salt is also highly antiseptic, which helps keep bacteria in check.
Herb & Spices
Spices and herbs such as clove powder, ground cinnamon, and ground mint add flavoring, but they also have astringent properties that support gum health.
The whole herb form of stevia is used in this recipe as a sweetener. My kids like the flavor so much they actually refuse to spit when they brush their teeth. Of course, that’s okay with me because all the ingredients are edible.
As I wrote here, “Activated charcoal – also called activated carbon – is made by processing charcoal with oxygen and either calcium chloride or zinc chloride. It was used medicinally by both Hippocrates and the ancient Egyptians, and it is still the poison remedy of choice in modern day emergency rooms. Why? Because it’s highly adsorptive, which in plain English means it attracts substances to its surface like a magnet. Like absorptive substances which work like a sponge, adsorptive materials bind with certain compounds and prevent our bodies from using them.
Fortunately for us, activated charcoal is a bit particular about what it locks onto. It’s not interested in calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, inorganic phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc and other compounds you probably want to hang onto (including your tooth enamel). It does, however, happen to like tannins – the compounds found in coffee, tea (even herbal tea), blueberries, wine and spices like cinnamon that stain our teeth. As a bonus, activated charcoal also balances the mouth’s pH and is even considered beneficial enough to be used in some tooth re-mineralization formulas.”
Homemade Tooth Powder Recipe
Note: Feel free to add or adjust ingredients based on your needs. For example, if you have very sensitive teeth you might want to skip the baking soda and salt at first, or if you want to focus on removing stains add a little more activated charcoal.
4 tablespoons bentonite clay (You don’t need an expensive brand – something like this will work well)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons finely ground unrefined sea salt (I use this brand and this brand)
½ teaspoons clove powder (where to buy organic clove powder)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (where to buy organic cinnamon)
1 ½ teaspoons ground peppermint leaves, spearmint leaves or 5-10 drops peppermint essential oil*
1 ½ teaspoons unrefined stevia powder – optional (find it here)
¾ teaspoons activated charcoal – optional (I open up about 4 capsules of this brand to add in)
* If you don’t have peppermint leaves, just grind some peppermint tea in a coffee grinder. Voila!
Using a stainless steel or plastic spoon, mix all ingredients in a clean glass jar. To use, add a little to a wet toothbrush and brush as normal.