Now before I get started, I want to disclose a few things about myself, mainly for the benefit of anyone who might read this post and think "WHAT A QUACK!" I had no idea toothpaste and dental care could ignite such a debate between bloggers and dental professionals and as such, I feel compelled to inform anyone reading this of my experience and qualification level.
1. I am not a dentist, nor do I hold a medical degree of any kind.
2. I was a dental assistant to the best pediatric dentist in the Chicagoland area for many years. I also assisted in general family practice dentistry for a number of years shortly after having my first child. I was required to take classes for assisting, coronal polishing, and sealants, at an accredited community college. I was also mandated to complete yearly refresher courses and as one of the leading providers in his area, my pediatric dentist was constantly implementing new technology and sharing new information with his team.
3. I love teeth, and health, and anything having to do with the human body. I am very open minded and welcome debates, although I must insist they are respectful and considerate. Any assholish comments will be deleted.
All right! So let's move on to the fun stuff :)
We all need to brush our teeth. It's kinda imperative. After finding out Crest embeds plastic in our gums last September, I started to wonder whether or not it was really all that intelligent of me to research the crap out of my food, but blindly purchase my beauty products. Toothpaste was the very first thing I switched out when deciding to take the plunge into the crunchy life experiment. So let's do this.
1. Pick your recipe. My aim was to create something my kids (ages 2 and 8) and husband would like, a very tall order considering each one is inherently picky about tastes and textures. I ended up slightly tweaking a recipe I found online from Wellness Mama. Live Simply also has a great recipe.
- 2 Tablespoons xylitol (this is to sweeten it - be sure to check labels - get the real, 100% birch stuff!)
- 1/3 cup coconut oil (I get the organic kind from Target. *Bonus* - you can use the jars later!)
- 1 Tablespoon baking soda
- 2 Tablespoons bentonite clay
- About 5 drops of peppermint essential oil
2. Mix all the ingredients up. Wellness Mama gets all fancy and incorporates stuff and uses a food processor and only plastic spoons blah blah blah but I just threw that crap into an old glass honey jar and stirred. I had great consistency without adding water, but they say you can add water if it's too chalky.
Some folks get a little nervous using metal spoons to stir because they say bentonite clay shouldn't come into contact with metal as metal diminishes potency. After reading and reading and reading some more, I've found mixing the clay with stainless steel is perfectly fine - in fact, they use stainless steel instruments to remove the clay from the earth for our consumption. All good. Also, bentonite clay is safe on amalgam (metal) fillings, as these fillings are designed to withstand pretty much everything. Awesome.
3. Store your toothpaste. I bought some travel tubes (first picture, above) made of silicone (less leaching = more good). I wash them out between uses so I don't have some old stuff just sitting in there. One travel-size GoToob will last about 3 weeks if you brush twice a day.
Here's a picture of the mixing jar after I filled up my tubes - I wanted to show you for texture reasons. It's really easy to scoop out...very paste-like consistency.
I was using this paste for year and years and years:
The cost of this toothpaste per ounce is $0.51.
My kiddos were using this toothpaste:
The cost of this toothpaste per ounce is $0.83.
I added up the ingredients for our homemade toothpaste, divided by recipe usage, and came out to a price of $0.93 per ounce. So when comparing to my old whitening adult paste, I am paying $0.42 more for my homemade product, and when comparing to my kids' old paste, I am paying $0.10 more per ounce for my homemade product. Paying more any way you slice it.
So here's where it gets messy for me, the dental assistant who was taught fluoride and toothpaste are critical for health. I went on my favorite website, EWG's SkinDeep database, and was pretty shocked to see some hefty charges against my favorite toothpaste.
- Triclosan: Ecotoxicology, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Contamination concerns (CHLOROFORM, DIOXINS), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Persistence and bioaccumulation
- Sodium Fluoride: Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Multiple, additive exposure sources, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Occupational hazards, Use restrictions
- Sodium Hydroxide: Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity
(non-reproductive), Use restrictions
- Propylene Glycol: Enhanced skin absorption, Allergies/immunotoxicity,
Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive),
Oh, but it is. Not only is it responsible for causing fluorosis (which I unfortunately suffer from), but it's also shown as having no positive affect on cavity reduction...none. Honestly blew my mind....me, the dental professional. We laughed at the parents who refused fluoride. "Irresponsible," we called them. "Easily-frightened women who refuse to look at science." How the tables have turned. Flaws, forgiven indeed.
And our ingredients? Aside from no crazy chemical toxicity, they have the following benefits:
- Coconut oil: antibacterial, shown to prevent tooth decay, incredible for your immune system
- Bentonite clay: absorbs toxins, repairs gums, remineralizes teeth
- Xylitol: protects teeth, kills sticky, cavity-causing bacteria, promotes growth of healthy bacteria
- Baking soda: eliminates surface stains, whitens teeth
- Peppermint oil: freshens breath, reduces plaque bacteria, whitens teeth
Of all the products I've tried and experimented with, this one was by far the most widely-accepted by my kids and husband. My entire family loves this stuff. The flavor is very mild - only a hint of mint. When I make it again I am going to add more peppermint oil.
I pay a little more for it. It's a pain in the butt to stuff tubes and clean green dots off my white sink, but I do it all, and will continue to do so, gladly.
I feel duped, maybe more so with this particular product than any others because this was my profession, my expertise. I taught others the right way to do things and those little cuties trusted me, as did their parents. Am I glad I found a toothpaste my whole family can enjoy, toxin-free? You betcha. But what impacts me the heaviest, what gives me more reason to pause, is the possibility that you, the reader, will learn something. This post won't make up for the hundreds of lives I contaminated with my ignorance, but it might make a difference for one of you. Oysters in the ocean and what have you....one by one...it matters to that one.
Overjoyed to have you with me, and as always, thank you so much for reading. Tune in next week to read about homemade lotion - perfect for these cold, dry winter months!
Miss my other Crunchy Life Experiment Posts? No worries. Check them out in the links below.