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Naturally Healing Toothpaste

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The more we know about dental health, the more we believe in the power of oral care and overall

The more we know about dental health, the more we believe in the power of oral care and overall dental hygiene. Starting with the foods we eat, what we drink, and very importantly our oral care, daily routines and products we use.

Toothpaste is the most common oral hygiene product we use, and most toothpastes contain a plethora of potentially harmful ingredients. It is hard to discern what could be a good toothpaste when you are trying to buy one in the supermarket because we don’t even know what those ingredients are.

Harmful chemicals present in toothpaste may include titanium dioxide, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), fluoride, artificial coloring, abrasive ingredients, parabens, propylene glycol, artificial sweeteners like saccharin, sorbitol and aspartame, carrageenan, diethanolamine (DEA), cocamidopropyl betaine. This is a very long list, that doesn’t even encompass the totality of potentially harmful chemicals you may be exposed to when using a common store-bought toothpaste. A concerning fact is that we ingest quite a bit of our toothpaste every time we brush our teeth. So, what are we ingesting and what are the potential negative consequences of using such products?

Our recommendation: make your own oral care products, starting with toothpaste. It’s simple, effective, and affordable. Most of the ingredients may even be in your kitchen pantry.

 

DIY Toothpaste Recipe

  • 3-4 Tbsp baking soda
  • ½-1 tsp fine Himalayan pink salt or sea salt
  • ¼ cup organic coconut oil or MCT oil (adjust the quantity to achieve desired consistency)
  • 10-20 drops of peppermint or spearmint essential oil (optional)
  • 10-20 drops of cinnamon or clove essential oil (optional)


Optional:
Arrowroot powder (to thicken for a more paste-like consistency)

Directions:

  1. Combine the baking soda with the salt.
  2. Add softened coconut oil or MCT oil. You can start by adding 3 tablespoons and mixing well. You can add more until you achieve the desired consistency.
  3. Add your essential oils of choice and combine well.
  4. Optional: to thicken the mixture, add arrowroot powder. Start with a small amount like one teaspoon and add more until the desired thickness is reached.
  5. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 3 weeks.


Important:
Use a small scoop or spoon to get paste rather than your toothbrush to avoid introducing bacteria in the toothpaste.

This simple toothpaste is made with natural ingredients that benefit your mouth and teeth health. Let’s take a look at those ingredients and why they are good for your dental health.

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)

Baking soda has been used in dental care and oral hygiene for a long time. It is mildly abrasive and alkaline which makes it a perfect ingredient for healthy and clean teeth. Furthermore, it is safe and effective.

Baking soda has many uses. In toothpaste, it acts as an ideal mild abrasive, which dissolves, leaving no grit behind. It is alkaline, so it has the added benefit of helping to neutralize excess acid in the mouth.

In an article published in 2017 in The Journal of the American Dental Association, the author concluded on baking soda dentifrices (agents used along with a toothbrush to aid in the removal of dental plaque, including tooth powder and toothpaste) and oral health1:

  • “The low abrasivity of dentifrices containing baking soda makes them especially suited for safe daily use in oral hygiene regimens.
  • Microbiological studies have shown that baking soda products have significant bactericidal activity against oral pathogens, which explains benefits demonstrated in clinical studies on plaque biofilm and gingivitis reduction.
  • Baking soda dentifrices favor patient compliance because they have stain-reducing and whitening properties, a feature which motivates patients to brush as instructed by their oral care practitioner.
  • Neutralization of plaque acids by baking soda supports caries reduction as well as facilitation of remineralization of incipient carious lesions.”


In another article, the author concluded that “sodium bicarbonate may not be the “magic bullet” for curing dental diseases, but its safety (if ingested), low abrasivity, low cost, and compatibility with fluoride make it a consummate dentifrice ingredient2.”

One important factor about baking soda that extends to the other ingredients of our toothpaste is safety. Toothpaste (or toothpowder) containing baking soda has been extensively studied and found to be safe. It is low in abrasiveness, does not contribute to root sensitivity, and it’s safe to be used by patients on low-salt diets1.

The safety of all the components in the toothpaste you make is of paramount importance, especially considering that people swallow 5% to 7% of their toothpaste when they brush1.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil helps to combine all the ingredients of your toothpaste into a well-rounded mixture. It gives toothpaste a smooth feel and is naturally antimicrobial while preserving healthy mouth bacteria.

Coconut oil is composed of 92% saturated acids, approximately 50% of which is lauric acid. Only one other substance in nature has such a high concentration of lauric acid – human breast milk. Lauric acid has proven antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects3.

Coconut oil used for oil pulling (oil pulling or oil swishing therapy is a traditional practice in which the practitioners rinse or swish oil in their mouth for some time and then spit it out), was also found to be an effective adjunct procedure in decreasing plaque formation and plaque induced gingivitis3.

Coconut oil is liquid at 75 degrees Fahrenheit and solid below that temperature, which means the consistency of your toothpaste will change according to room temperature. It will be hard in cool conditions; at higher temperatures, it will be runny and may separate. This is why we prefer to keep our toothpaste in a glass jar instead of a tube. This way we can use a small spoon to scoop the mixture if hard or re-mix if separated.

Natural Salts

Fine natural salts, like sea salt or Himalayan pink salt, can be used as a low/mild abrasive agent, ideal for a scrubbing effect without scratching the teeth. This abrasive property is excellent to help remove plaque and stains and prevent plaque build-up. It is very important to use fine salt, to avoid scratching the enamel of the teeth. Salt is also naturally antimicrobial, helping prevent harmful bacterial overgrowth in the mouth and contributing to overall oral health.

Another added benefit of salt in toothpaste is that it triggers saliva production, which is beneficial to keep the mouth clean and moist. Research shows that saliva removes food debris and keeps the mouth relatively clean4. Saliva also contains an enzyme (lysozyme) that kills many bacteria and prevents the overgrowth of oral microbial populations4.

Natural salts are also rich in certain minerals and trace minerals which have a beneficial effect on oral health. Sea salt is rich in minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, and occasionally zinc and iron. Himalayan pink salt contains many of the same minerals and is characterized by the presence of iron oxide which provides the distinctive pink color.

Essential Oils

Essential oils will add taste, palatability (remember people swallow 5% to 7% of their toothpaste when they brush!) and smell to the toothpaste. One of the main factors employed to increase compliance in the use of toothpaste and regular tooth brushing is the flavor of the product. If someone “likes” the flavor of their toothpaste they have a higher tendency to use it as recommended by their dental care practitioner, and to purchase it again. The same applies to your homemade toothpaste. If you do not like it, the probability of “relapsing” and going to the store to buy your usual branded toothpaste increases. Companies know that, and they use all marketing techniques to incentivize you to buy and keep buying their products. Knowing that you can also take the necessary steps to make your toothpaste flavorful and “enjoyable” by using your favorite essential oils.

Besides adding flavor and increasing compliance with the use of homemade toothpaste, some essential oils also possess specific health benefits important for oral health.

Mint essential oils provide the familiar “minty toothpaste” taste and freshness. Other essential oils might be used according to preference.

  • Peppermint essential oil has a stimulant effect and may help improve mood. Research shows that peppermint essential oil has, among others, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, immunomodulatory, antitumor, neuroprotective, anti fatigue and antioxidant effects5.
  • Spearmint essential oil has a more calming effect and may help reduce anxiety and stress. Bioactive compounds in spearmint essential oil exhibit antimicrobial, antioxidant, insecticidal, antitumor, anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic activities6.
  • Clove essential oil contains a high amount of bioactive compounds with several biological activities, including antibacterial, antifungal, insecticidal, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiviral, and anticancer properties. The major compound found in clove essential oil is eugenol, which acts as an analgesic, and anesthetic and may help reduce toothache7.
  • Cinnamon essential oil adds a nice and very palatable taste to your toothpaste. Furthermore, cinnamon essential oil has anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antimicrobial antibacterial, and antifungal, among other beneficial properties8. These properties make it a preferential essential oil to use in mouth rinses, toothpastes, or root canal irrigation8. A study published in 2020 on the effects of cinnamon in dentistry concluded that “Cinnamon essential oil, cinnamon extracts, and the main components show significant antimicrobial activities against oral pathogens and could be beneficial in caries and periodontal disease prevention, endodontics, and candidiasis treatment8.”


It is interesting to know the properties of different essential oils and develop strategies to use them to your benefit. For example, what about peppermint toothpaste in the morning to boost mood, and spearmint toothpaste at night to promote calmness?! If you have a toothache, clove oil is a great option, and an overall very beneficial oil for oral health is cinnamon.

Besides toothpaste, many people use mouthwash, which is usually antibacterial. But guess what? Like antibiotics, antibacterial mouthwash will kill both your “bad” and “good” mouth bacteria. A balanced oral biome is paramount to a healthy mouth and digestive system. Your digestive tube starts in your mouth and ends in your anus, and all of it needs care. Let’s start with the mouth! For a mouthwash alternative, we have developed an effortless mixture. Check this blog for our healthy mouthwash recipe: https://www.anoasisofhealing.com/does-your-mouthwash-put-you-at-risk-for-cancer/

 

References

  1. Ciancio SG. Baking soda dentifrices and oral health. J Am Dent Assoc. 2017 Nov;148(11S):S1-S3. doi: 10.1016/j.adaj.2017.09.009. PMID: 29056183.
  2. Newbrun E. The use of sodium bicarbonate in oral hygiene products and practice. Compend Contin Educ Dent Suppl. 1997;18(21):S2-7; quiz S45. PMID: 12017930.
  3. Peedikayil FC, Sreenivasan P, Narayanan A. Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis – A preliminary report. Niger Med J. 2015 Mar-Apr;56(2):143-7. doi: 10.4103/0300-1652.153406. PMID: 25838632; PMCID: PMC4382606.
  4. Tiwari M. Science behind human saliva. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2011 Jan;2(1):53-8. doi: 10.4103/0976-9668.82322. PMID: 22470235; PMCID: PMC3312700.
  5. Zhao H, Ren S, Yang H, Tang S, Guo C, Liu M, Tao Q, Ming T, Xu H. Peppermint essential oil: its phytochemistry, biological activity, pharmacological effect and application. Biomed Pharmacother. 2022 Oct;154:113559. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2022.113559. Epub 2022 Aug 19. PMID: 35994817.
  6. Zhang LL, Chen Y, Li ZJ, Li X, Fan G. Bioactive properties of the aromatic molecules of spearmint (Mentha spicata L.) essential oil: a review. Food Funct. 2022 Mar 21;13(6):3110-3132. doi: 10.1039/d1fo04080d. PMID: 35212344.
  7. Haro-González JN, Castillo-Herrera GA, Martínez-Velázquez M, Espinosa-Andrews H. Clove Essential Oil (Syzygium aromaticum L. Myrtaceae): Extraction, Chemical Composition, Food Applications, and Essential Bioactivity for Human Health. Molecules. 2021 Oct 22;26(21):6387. doi: 10.3390/molecules26216387. PMID: 34770801; PMCID: PMC8588428.
  8. Yanakiev S. Effects of Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.) in Dentistry: A Review. Molecules. 2020 Sep 12;25(18):4184. doi: 10.3390/molecules25184184. PMID: 32932678; PMCID: PMC7571082.

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