Most of us have been using standard toothpaste our entire lives, along with a wide assortment of other chemical-filled personal care products.
According to the Environmental Working Group, industrial chemicals are basic ingredients in personal care products like toothpaste, with 12,500 unique chemical compounds in these items equating to approximately one of every seven of the 82,000 chemicals registered for use in the United States. They may contain carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors, plasticizers, degreasers, and surfactants. And, the FDA doesn’t regulate or limit the use of chemicals in personal care products or require that all of the ingredients be listed on the label.
The Dangers of Fluoride
More than 95 percent of toothpaste sold in the U.S. contain fluoride today, with many supermarkets and drugstores carrying only a few, if any, non-fluoridated brands. There is a reason the FDA requires a poison warning on these fluoridated toothpastes – they come with a number of health risks, particularly for young children.
The risk that comes with ingesting fluoride toothpaste, which is bound to happen when you brush your teeth, if only in a small amount, including everything from skin rashes and tooth discoloration to digestive problems, impairment of glucose metabolisms and acute toxicity. Yet most traditional dentists still promote them, and clever marketers use cartoon-like packaging and sweet candy-like flavors to encourage kids to want to use these adult-strength toothpaste filled with fluoride.
The Harvard Public School of Health even states that “perhaps the most worrisome is preliminary research in lab animals suggesting that high levels of fluoride may be toxic to brain and nerve cells. And human epidemiological studies have identified possible links to learning, memory, and cognition deficits, though most of these studies have focused on populations with fluoride exposures higher than those typically provided by U.S. water supplies.”
Over the course of a lifetime, the average American uses about 20 gallons of toothpaste. Even if you spit most of it out, some of those chemicals are going to make their way into your bloodstream as the mouth is one of the most absorbent places in your entire body. This is why some medications are administered sublingually, or under your tongue.
Other Potentially Harmful Chemicals in Toothpaste
Fluoride isn’t the only concern with toothpaste by far, there are multiple other potentially harmful chemicals, including:
Artificial Sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners come with a long list of potentially hazardous effects. For example, aspartame has been linked to headaches, blurred vision, memory loss, personality changes, seizures, insomnia, skin rashes, muscle and joint pain and blindness, according to scientific studies.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Many toothpastes contain SLS, a surfactant which is a chemical that creates the foaming action. It’s been linked to canker sores and interferes with the functioning of taste buds in addition to being potentially contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a carcinogenic byproduct, as renowned holistic physician Dr. Mercola reports.
Triclosan. Some toothpastes, including Colgate Total, contain the chemical triclosan, an antibacterial ingredient that has been associated with endocrine disruption and concerns over antibiotic resistance. Chemicals that cause endocrine disruption can trigger all sorts of health issues, including certain types of cancer and is known to raise the risk of heart disease and heart failure, harm muscle function, alters levels of thyroid hormones and reproductive hormones such as testosterone and estrogen, increase infertility risk and contribute to the early onset of puberty.
Propylene glycol. This ingredient is used in antifreeze, paints, enamels, and airplane de-icers. The pharmaceutical-grade form also utilized in personal care products like toothpaste as a surfactant. If used every day, it’s been known to lead to damage to the central nervous system, heart, and liver. It can also cause skin irritation, especially in those with sensitive skin.
And that’s just the short list – there are many other potentially harmful chemicals in your typical store-bought toothpaste, but that should be more than enough to convince you to make your own.
You’ve got lots of options – here are seven ways to make a homemade toothpaste to help support your oral health without those nasty harmful side effects.
Coconut Oil, Baking Soda, and Tea Tree Oil Toothpaste
Coconut oil and tea tree oil both provide powerful antibacterial properties. The baking soda helps to neutralize the acid, whiten your teeth, and remove plaque and stains. To make it, all you need is the following ingredients:
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 tbsp baking soda
- 5 drops tea tree oil
Combine the baking soda and coconut oil together first, until it forms a paste-like consistency, then add the tea tree oil. Dab it onto your toothbrush and brush as usual.
Using baking soda is also effective for keeping your teeth whiter and shinier. To make your own whitening toothpaste, all you need to do is mix the coconut oil and a little baking soda into a paste as per the previous recipe, and then add one drop of peppermint essential oil. Up the effectiveness and get them extra white by adding a fresh, mashed strawberry. With this recipe, allow the mixture to remain on your teeth as long as you can before rinsing.
Bentonite Clay Toothpaste
Bentonite clay is great for keeping teeth polished and it also offers antibacterial properties to help eliminate plaque and other common issues. Simply combine coconut oil, a bit of sea salt and bentonite clay with filtered water to create your desired texture. You can add a drop of peppermint essential oil for flavor too.
Most kids are picky about what they put in their mouth, so try this effective recipe for your little ones:
- 1/3 cup coconut oil soft but not melted
- 1 tbsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp bentonite clay
- 1/4 tsp liquid stevia
- 7 drops sweet orange essential oil
Combine the coconut oil, baking soda, and clay together in a bowl and mix well. Then add remaining ingredients and mix again.
Cinnamon DIY Toothpaste
Most DIY toothpastes contain similar ingredients with various essential oils so you have a choice of flavor, like this one. Simply combine about a half cup of softened coconut oil with two to three tablespoons baking soda depending on the desired texture. Then mix in two small packets of stevia powder and 15 drops of cinnamon essential oil.
Spearmint provides a refreshing minty taste and aroma and makes toothpaste more effective due to its outstanding antiseptic and antibacterial qualities. Combine 3 parts baking soda to 1 part coconut oil to achieve a creamy texture, then add 5 drops of spearmint essential oil.
Activated Charcoal Toothpaste
At first, activated charcoal will make your teeth and mouth very black. It will help pull toxins from the mouth and removes stains, yet it will rinse away quickly, leaving your teeth clean and smooth as if you’ve just had a professional cleaning. After doing this a few times, they’ll be noticeably whiter too.
Mix a la small amount of activated charcoal powder with enough water to achieve a consistency that’s thick enough so that it will stay on your toothbrush. Dip your toothbrush into this mixture and then brush your teeth as normal, rinsing thoroughly afterward.