Alternatives in tooth care
I suppose we have all seen the more or less long list of ingredients on our tooth paste tubes, and heard about the antibacterial agents, desensitizing agents, anti-tarter agents, sweetening agents, foaming agents, abrasives, preservatives, thickeners, stabilizers, ph balancers, colors and aromas that go into its making. I even researched and wrote an article to educate myself about what is hidden in tooth paste, and it was not pretty.
I feel upset that I even needed to learn about those chemicals. More than that, I felt really tired of trying to figure out which tooth paste has the least amount of chemicals – which one is the “least evil”.
I never wanted anything fancy (expensive), since the stuff gets spit out anyway (never mind that there are few alternatives such as fluoride-free tooth paste in my neck of the woods).
And I hate the ubiquitous phenonemom of the industry first messing up a product with chemicals, then going back to “without X” – only to charge you MORE for it!
Since I also don’t see why toothpaste must needs be sweet or even taste good, I decided to go back to traditional options.
I’ve used plain hard soap such as Castile (Ivory or pure olive oil soap would be good options, too). Hard soap does not contain glycerin and gets the cleaning job done very well. It is the perfect fluoride-free, glycerin-free, cruelty-free, plastic-free, dirty-sink-free, extremely affordable solution. It just tastes like, well, soap, which takes some getting used to. But you do get used to it.
Glycerin-free means your teeth do not get coated with a film that blocks normal tooth remineralization. Contact with clean saliva is essential to teeth. Hard soap provides that.
On occasion I also used charcoal tablets, like the people I observed doing so in India. Activated charcoal is tasteless, and adsorbs onto its surfaces a large range of toxins, chemicals, bacteria and fungi. It’s therefore good for working on tooth stains. Just don’t scare yourself when you look into the mirror! There is just one real drawback: the sink gets ultra messy! This is no problem when you are camping out with a fire (yes, you can chew coals straight from a cooled fire-pit).
Baking soda method
Sometimes when I feel my teeth need some extra cleaning I dunk my damp brush into the baking soda jar. Not only does baking soda work to neutralize the acids in your mouth, it also minimizes tooth pain from gum disease. You can simply rub baking soda mixed with warm water on the affected area for instant relief.Yes, the taste also is terrible at first, when you are still used to sweet tooth paste, but remember you are trying to get those teeth clean, not have another “snack experience”.
I’ve tried Himalayan salt on my brush, but that was too salty for me, so I tried a mixture of baking soda, salt and a few drops of essential peppermint oil (clove oil works, too). Not bad.
The thing is, I’m not really into making all kinds of concoctions – but if you are, you can take a look at Mommypotamus’s recipe (https://mommypotamus.com).
A friend of mine told me about making her own tooth paste using xylitol (a sugar alcohol sourced from birch trees). Xylitol is said to encourage salivation to help restore pH balance. Increased saliva also like a river washes away bacteria from the tooth enamel and so decreases tooth decay. But somewhere else I heard that the mouth bacteria get used to xylitol after a few months, and then it looses its effectiveness. So I would say, forgo this sugar in do-it-yourself tooth paste recipes. I reserve xylitol for occasional gum chewing (I only buy brands that contain xylitol) when I feel an “in-between need” for clean teeth.
These days I’ve discovered magnesium oil. Two drops on a wet tooth brush will do good beyond just cleaning teeth and gums. If you are low in magnesium, like I am, the fact that the mouth is one of the most absorbent places in your entire body means that it is the gateway for magnesium to reach every system in your body. Not that I’m going to pretend it tastes good, but again, that doesn’t matter to me.
Although I must say that when I found out that magnesium oil is good for cleaning teeth it suddenly tasted more neutral to me. I guess taste has a lot to do with your expecations and attitude.
Once or twice a month I give my teeth a deep clean and whiten by brushing them with a mix of baking soda and activated charcoal. First, I smear coconut oil over my toothbrush, then I dip it into my baking soda/charcoal mix, and then give my teeth a good thorough brushing (but I avoid my gums).
Flossing remains an important part of oral hygiene. But you can augment the results by pulling the flossing thread through coconut oil beforehand, since coconut oil has antibacterial properties. Magnesium oil works, too.
As for mouth wash, I like to use some especially when I have a sore spot somewhere. Put a drop or two of tea tree oil in a glas of water and gargle with that after brushing.
Or try this recipe: Put 2 teaspoons baking soda in 500 ml of boiled water and shake/stir to dissolve it. After letting the mixture cool add 3 drops of clove oil. Eucalyptus oil works, too. Ethereal oils are not only anti-bacterial, they also promote healing where needed, as well as help the mouth feel cleaner and the breath taste fresher.
The next thing I’m going to try is zeolith and/or bentonite. I have heard that its detoxifiying properties help freshen breath and fight gum disease, while its adsorptive properties help remove stains from teeth.
So far everything I have tried has worked pretty well as far as cleaning teeth is concerned. The reason I haven’t stayed with one option is that I don’t like routines. I also think it’s good to switch things up to get the different benefits from different things.
But there is one more topic that needs to be discussed if you want to become truly successful in taking care of your own oral health. That would be the topic of diet and nutrition – and specifically the intake of sugar. Each time you expose your teeth to sugar the demineralization process begins, and it can take up to an hour for the mouth to return to normal non-acidic PH conditions.
Cheese is a great snack for the teeth. The fat in cheese reduces the amount of harmful bacteria in the mouth. The phosphorus and calcium in cheese prevent the pH levels in the mouth from decreasing and actually work to remineralize tooth enamel.
Eat real, whole foods that make your teeth do some real chewing work such as raw carrots, broccoli, apples or cucumbers. Not only do the fibers of fruits and veggies scrub the teeth, the work of chewing makes teeth stronger. Chewing also works to increase saliva production and so facilitates remineralization.
“The compounder” recommends the daily use of an antibiotic for treating all chronic conditions: “Everyone, regardless of age, gender, or physical condition, should be taking 15 billion or more units of a good probiotic every day. This is not a joke, nor is it marketing hype. Our environment – coupled with all of the drugs we all seem to be consuming – wreaks havoc on our digestion. Many of us fail to absorb the nutrients we need to stay healthy. If you do anything, take a probiotic every day. “ (Stinebaugh, 2012)
I hope you will try whatever on this list strikes your fancy. The important thing is knowing that your teeth can get clean without the “aid” of poisons – just by using simple remedies that do not break the bank.
Sources: (besides my own experience)
Cooper, A. (n.d.). Say Cheese! Eat This Instead of a Sweet Dessert. Retrieved on Feb. 11th, 2020 from https://recipes.howstuffworks.com
Dessinger, H. (n.d.). Homemade Tooth Powder Recipe. Retrieved on Feb. 10th, 2020 from https://mommypotamus.com
McDuffie, D. (2020). Brushing your teeth with soap is dope. Retrieved on Feb. 11th, 2020 from https://perfectlyhealthyandtoned.com/
Mercola, J.M. (2015). Toxic Toothpaste Ingredients You Need to Avoid. Retrieved on Feb. 7th, 2020 from http://articles.mercola.com/
Stinebaugh, E. (Nov 26th, 2012). Gum disease and soap. Retrieved on Feb. 10th, 2020 from https://thecompounder.com