Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Homemade Natural Toothpaste

Welcome to the April 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Personal Care
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles relating to their children's personal care choices.

In keeping with this week's blog theme of natural family living and do-it-yourself homemaking, today I am delighted to share a guest post from Nina Litovsky, a local homeschooling and natural parenting mom who has a homemade natural toothpaste recipe that's kid-friendly, easy to make, and good for the whole family!

I make my own homemade natural toothpaste which is completely free of fluoride, preservatives, and any other chemical substances. It tastes good and can be safely swallowed, which makes it a good training toothpaste for little kids. My toddler loves it! It has become our official family toothpaste of choice.

Why homemade?

Initially, I was looking at commercial options. I didn’t want fluoride in the toothpaste because I was concerned about its toxicity and I had doubts about its benefits (but that’s another story). I also wanted something that would be safe to swallow, as I was about to train our baby to brush her teeth. All the commercial brands I found seemed to have some kind of preservatives or other chemical substances and I was not exactly sure that these substances were completely nontoxic.

So I did a lot of online searching and gathered some tips here and there, and finally put together a recipe to make my own toothpaste, which would at least guarantee the quality I was looking for. Also, most homemade toothpaste recipes I saw seemed to be a little complicated and time-consuming. I wanted to create a very quick and easy recipe, with very few ingredients.

The recipe

It is a very simple recipe, requires only 3 ingredients, and is a breeze to make!

Just take equal parts of calcium bentonite clay, xylitol and water. To make a solid, thick toothpaste, first you mix xylitol and bentonite and then add water. (I use water from our filter which blocks fluoride and a bunch of other toxins). You cannot add too little water – always add a bit extra if in doubt. You’ll see this when you start mixing it: if it is too dry, add more water. Mixing should be done in a porcelain, glass, or wood bowl using a porcelain, glass or wooden spatula or similar utensils.

Why porcelain, glass, or wood? Because clay has strong absorbent qualities, and if you use plastic (even BPA-free) or metal utensils, your clay may draw out unwanted plastic or metal particles.

The resulting toothpaste mixture looks like clay. Xylitol is a natural sweetener so it tastes good. If you’re feeling adventurous you can mix in veggie-based dyes or flavors.

How to use it

Open the jar, scrub with your toothbrush in a circular motion to get a good chunk of the paste smeared onto your brush. Brush one jaw, rinse and repeat. Or experiment to see what works for you. The idea is to smear a good amount of the paste onto your teeth. After you rinse your mouth, don’t worry if some of the paste is still stuck to your teeth. It will dissolve but in the meantime in will collect the bacteria.

How to store it

The toothpaste can be stored in a glass jar or a wooden/bamboo container (I’d say glass is better around sink moisture). It shouldn’t go "bad," but it is a good idea to cover it up, not airtight though. What works best for us so far is the jar pictured in the photo above. The lid is a little loose and allows for some air circulation inside the jar. You might want to experiment to see what works best for you to prevent mold.

For hygienic reasons each person should have their own container.

As for the toothbrush, it might be hard to completely rinse off the sticky paste. What I do is rinse the toothbrush a little bit and then put it in a glass of water and keep in there. The water in the glass will get a little “muddy” because of the clay but it’s ok. I think that the clay, due to its antibacterial qualities, will cleanse your brush the same way it cleanses your teeth. Eventually most of the clay should dissolve in water by the time of your next tooth brushing.

Where to buy the ingredients

Both bentonite and xylitol can be bought in bulk in 5-pound bags. Make sure that both are made in the USA (and that xylitol is not from corn but rather from birch, which is another sign it is made in the USA). Bentonite can be bought from BestBentonite.com. Please note: although it may not be immediately clear from the description on that website, they sell calcium bentonite, which is what we are using in the recipe.

Or you can buy on Ebay from the same supplier. As for xylitol, it looks like it is getting more popular, hence competitive pricing on Amazon.

Why bentonite clay

Bentonite is known to have some antibacterial properties, but how these work in a toothpaste is not presently known. It is a mild abrasive and therefore has cleansing qualities. Basically, the clay sticks to your teeth and draws out plaque and bacteria. You can do your own research on the benefits of bentonite using these sources:

Bentonite and Gum Disease
Medicinal Uses of Bentonite

Disclaimer

I am not a chemist or a dentist and I don’t guarantee that my recipe works for everyone. It seems to work for my family and my dentist doesn’t complain. According to my research, bentonite has cleansing and antibacterial qualities and is good for the gums, and xylitol is known to help prevent tooth decay. So I'm sharing this recipe with the hope that it would work for you or inspire you to try your own. Please don’t expect this toothpaste to heal your teeth in case you already have cavities. I personally don’t believe ANY toothpaste can heal existing cavities. This toothpaste is for preventive care only and doesn’t replace other important ways to care for your teeth, such as frequent flossing and good nutrition.

Nina Litovsky is a homebirthing, homeschooling, natural parenting mom living with her husband and two young children in Newton, Massachusetts. Besides parenting, Nina runs her own home-based web design studio and enjoys a variety of hobbies such as flute, tennis, and mixed martial arts.



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20 comments:

  1. Parents need to remember that until children are about the age of eight they don’t have the manual dexterity to brush all of the plaque off by themselves. Power toothbrushes help and parents need to double check the brushing prowess of their kids.

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  2. This is a great recipe, I make my own toothpaste too, but don't use clay, I use bicarbonate soda, which works really well. I like sound of the anti-bacterial properties of the clay though, so may give it a try next time. Thanks for sharing Nina!

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  3. A great guest post. I love the fantastic tips for making your own toothpaste, it isn't that hard after all. It is very frustrating that all of the main stream(even most not so main stream) toothpaste products have such questionable ingredients.Thanks!

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  4. Thank you for the recipe! Here is a dumb question that I've wondered since making my own toothpaste - should you really dip your toothbrush into the mixture? Won't it get bacteria in there? Hopefully someone will know the answer :)

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  5. Dionna, I haven't noticed any bacteria living in the mixture that came from the toothbrush. When you dip your toothbrush into the mixture you scoop out the top layer anyway. If you notice a problem with bacteria you can instead use a spoon or a spatula to smear the mixture on the toothbrush.

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  6. Hey, ChildOrganics was just mentioning wanting to make a bentonite toothpaste! Looks like this fits the bill, and what a simple recipe. Are you sure it tastes ok? It looks awful, ha ha. Well, I guess like wet clay! That said, I used to brush with soap, so I guess I'm not all that picky (though my son is).

    I always wonder with unconventional toothpaste, how abrasive is it? I don't want to wear away my enamel, which is why I stopped brushing with soap, though that's a story for another day.

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  7. Lauren, I think it tastes fine. Even my toddler doesn't mind the taste. It may not look appetizing, but it has xylitol which makes it sweetish. This was just the basic recipe but you can add dyes and flavors it if you want.
    I have sensitive teeth and was looking for a mild toothpaste, and I found that this toothpaste was much less abrasive than any conventional toothpaste I used. If my teeth felt especially uncomfortable a conventional toothpaste sometimes made the problem worse. But this toothpaste actually soothes my teeth!

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  8. What a fun idea! I bet peppermint or chocolate mint (the herb, lol) would be good flavorings too!

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  9. I've been wanting to make homemade toothpaste. I use baking soda when I'm traveling (I carry one small container of it for my hair, face, and teeth--so easy!), but I use Tom's of Maine at home, and it definitely has a few too many ingredients for my liking. I wonder if you could use a canvas pastry bag to avoid the bacteria issue. If I try it, I'll let you know how it goes! Thanks for the great post.

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  10. This is brilliant. I might actually try this. Thanks!

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  11. This is such a nice simple receipe and it's great that it doesn't have fluride (industrial waste). I've never heard of birch derived Xylitol - I should definitely have a look at that. Thanks for sharing:)

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  12. love homemade stuff! sharing this in Sunday Surf

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  13. Hey there
    I am a dentist and just wanted to give my two cents because I understand you just want the best for your kids (which of course is awesome).
    You should do a little more research into how xylitol is produced from natural sugar. It doesn't "prevent" decay, just cannot be used (metabolized) by the oral bacteria.
    Fluoride is as natural as oxygen: in fact, it is naturally occurring in a lot of spring or ground water in the US! That's how it's dental benefits were discovered!
    Of course it is toxic in very high doses though, and I don't know the ages of your children so you'd have to be wary of that.
    And finally: no toothpaste (even fluoride containing) reverses decay, only prevents new formation. :)
    Have a good week!

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  14. And to the person who mentioned sharing bacteria through the toothpaste: yes absolutely this is possible.
    Just because you can't "see" the bacteria doesn't mean it's not there (very rarely bacteria can be seen with the naked eye: it would have to be a very very large colony!)

    Maybe have separate lumps for each family member as you don't want to spread any virus's (eg coldsores) or infections with your kids

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    1. Your points about fluride and zylitol are certainly interesting - seeing things from both sides of the coin. Thanks for sharing!

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  15. Debates about the effectiveness of Fluoride in oral care are actually everywhere. Many professionals say that it's effective, while others say it's harmful. I am not a dentist, but I think it's time for the authorities to have a clear discussion about this one. It should be disseminated to all toothpaste companies. This will prevent harm if it really causes harm to people. By the way, xylitol is indeed an effective ingredient for an oral product like mint, gums and toothpaste.

    Fredericksburg Dentist

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  16. Fluoride has been proven to be safe and effective in a minimum amount. Fluoride toxicities may happen if it's incorrectly used. In order to prevent tooth decays, we need to brush our teeth and tongue for at least 2 minutes. I also believe in the power of Xylitol. It's one of the natural ingredients that need to be included in every oral products.

    Dental Consultant

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  17. Most of the time, homemade remedies make better solutions than the commercially distributed ones. There is more control over the components and may be modified to better suit your needs. Ample knowledge, however, is a hard requisite.

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  18. Homemade toothpaste can be dangerous if your ingredients are not balanced with instructions !

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  19. Your site has some really helpful information. We invite you to read our articles about oral health topics and comment on our blog at http://www.dentalinsurance.org/blog/index.php/2012/10/natural-toothpaste-another-approach-to-oral-hygiene/.

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