Herbal Projects: Make Your Own Toothpaste


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L.HoltOver the past few months I’ve been attempting to systematically re-structure the way I approach household and personal products. I’ve done my best to eliminate products from companies known to test on animals. I’ve ditched the commercial cleaning products in favor of more toxin-free methods. I’m limiting the exfoliants in my soap and cleansers to things like almonds, apricot pits and sugar instead of microplastics. I’m slowly edging my way towards cruelty-free shampoos with fewer synthetic chemicals, because I can’t quite make myself go shampoo-free.

And then I picked up the toothpaste. I’m not entirely sure what to do with it.

I’ve been buying Tom’s of Maine lately, largely because it’s the only readily available dental product I can find that’s on the Leaping Bunny standard, though its parent company isn’t. They also provide the only non-antiperspirant deodorant I can find in stores. I like both products, and the company carries a fluoride-free toothpaste for when I’m feeling especially paranoid. They even have a fennel-flavored product for the adventurous. But it is a little expensive and I’ve been curious about the possibility of making my own, and what people used before commercial toothpastes were developed.

The answer to that question seems to range from bird feathers and porcupine quills to chewing sticks (including neem in the ayurvedic tradition) to a mixture of salt and mint leaves. Other traditional dental-care ingredients include chalk, animal bones, white oak bark, black walnuts and sage. Most of these methods have fallen out of practice in modern society, but that doesn’t mean they’re totally unfounded. Of course, it doesn’t mean they’ll protect your teeth as well as store-bought toothpaste either; I haven’t read enough to fully make up my mind yet, and the fluoride debate alone is almost too much.   

If you want to try a homemade tooth cleaning method, consider the following:



Baking soda and finely ground sea salt are the most popular alternatives to toothpaste. Both substances can be dissolved in water first if you are worried about abrasions, or they can be brushed straight onto your teeth with a wet toothbrush. Baking soda mixed with a little stevia and a few drops of peppermint essential oil can provide a familiar sweet minty taste. Other options include hydrogen peroxide (don’t use if you have amalgam fillings) and coconut oil. And you really can try the chew sticks.



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