Why Use Natural Toothpaste?
I’m not a dentist or a doctor, just a mom who has tried a TON of different toothpaste options and read a TON of books and medical literature. I first started making my own toothpaste after getting frustrated that I couldn’t find a store-bought brand that didn’t have questionable ingredients, including:
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- Sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners like sodium saccharin are often used in toothpaste to improve taste, but some of these substances are controversial. Until scientists reach some more definitive conclusions, sugar alcohols like sorbitol and xylitol seem to be a better choice and rated safe for non-food uses by the EWG.
- Fluoride: The most controversial toothpaste ingredient. I personally have to avoid it like the plague because of my thyroid disease (read about the connection here). Additionally, fluoride interferes with my thyroid hormone uptake. Our family doesn’t use fluoride toothpaste and we filter it out of our water, but there is definitely research on both sides. (You can read Mark Sisson’s take here and Dr. Mercola’s opinion here.) Whatever your opinion, fluoride does come with a warning to call the poison control center immediately if ingested and after seeing a close friend’s scare when her son ingested some fluoride, it isn’t something I keep in our house.
- Triclosan: A chemical used in antibacterial soaps and products. Triclosan was found to affect proper heart function in a study at the University of California Davis and the FDA ruled in 2017 that triclosan isn’t generally recognized as safe.
- Glycerin: Another controversial ingredient, glycerin is found in many toothpastes, especially natural toothpastes. Glycerin is a sweet, colorless liquid and some research says it can coat teeth and prevent them from benefitting from the minerals in saliva. I know that when I used glycerin toothpaste in college, my teeth started to yellow, but the research is still mixed on whether glycerin is harmful or not. Especially when I was working to remineralize cavities, I concluded after research that it was better to just avoid it.
- Surfactants: Many kinds of toothpaste contain surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate, which gives toothpaste its foam and lather. Some research shows that SLS can cause mouth ulcers and canker sores.
- Artificial colors/dyes or synthetic flavors: There are a few good natural toothpastes out there, but after looking at the ingredients, I realized I could make a similar concoction at home… and the toothpaste experiment was born.
Homemade Toothpaste Trial & Error
If you’re not sure you want to try making your own toothpaste, there are good store-bought options out there (scroll down for my favorites).
If you’re a DIY master, then jump right in!
I admit, I had several failed attempts before I figured this recipe out. I originally tried mixing coconut oil and baking soda in equal proportions (which makes coconut-tasting salt!). I also tried using pure ground stevia leaf, but my husband and kids couldn’t get past the green color.
I finally made a concession to use stevia powder (the most natural one I could find). I’ve also tried making this with xylitol, as it has some supposed benefits in dental health.
Here it is… the new, improved, and kid-approved recipe!
Natural Toothpaste Recipe
Melt or slightly soften the coconut oil.
Mix in other ingredients and stir well. If you are using a semi-hard coconut oil, use a fork, if not, use a spoon. If you are using completely melted coconut oil, you will need to stir several times while the mixture cools to keep the baking soda incorporated.
Pour the mixture into a small glass jar (I make different ones for each family member).
Let cool completely.