As you can see by the title and picture, this is not a recipe to follow to eat the end product, oh no. Far from it. This is a recipe that has nothing at all to do with food, but has absolutely everything to do with your dental health and health overall. Now, you may be sat there thinking this is totally incomprehensible and ‘why on earth would I want to make my own toothpaste?!’ That would definitely be my reaction because, after all, it costs as little as £1 to simply toss a tube of store-bought toothpaste into your basket on your weekly grocery shop but, hold it right there! Put the toothpaste down and instead locate the coconut oil, essential oils and bicarbonate of soda, because this revelation is something that will surely shock you into never touting Colgate’s minty freshness again.
To begin with, it’s clear I’m no dental expert and I’ve never forayed into many scientific studies concerning oral health. That being said, it’s not hard to pick things up from various news sources and online articles about wholly concerning topics, that is, if you were aware of the possible harmful elements in things that cause such articles to be written. Things like GMO’s in food, right to the cancer-causing ingredients in our house-hold items, it seems we are never far from another alarming story, the take home message being: it all has a knock-on effect for our health.
Specific to this article, however, toothpaste. A few months ago, following on from watching a series of food films that caused my improved diet (whole-foods, non-processed, pescatarian and sugar-free wherever possible) I watched another film, this time a documentary-style one called The Human Experiment, which was in its most basic form, truly shocking. Startling horror stories about people’s health defects that are caused by perceived ‘non-harmful’ things such as innocuous looking deodorant, shampoo and even plastic bottles, all every day items that we don’t think twice about using, because they’re commercial products that are scientifically proven to be safe for human contact/consumption, right? Wrong. Astonishingly, huge companies and some scientists are unlawfully in cahoots, all to generate more money and profit from our unquestioning selves – the perfect example being the Monsanto scandal. Other films such as OMG GMO outline this perfectly.
But, toothpaste?! Surely all the ingredients in toothpastes are necessary and beneficial? Well, not quite. Below is a list of some main ingredients most, if not all, commercial toothpastes contain, along with reasons for their possible toxicity and harmfulness:
– Fluoride: The main thing in toothpastes we all know and are told to love. It’s strengthening and beneficial properties, blah blah, blah. However, the shocking thing that is not so well known, and that puts the ‘positives’ into question, is that it’s EPA classified as toxic. More toxic than lead, to be precise. Used originally as rat poison and in some pesticides, fluoride can’t even be found in most child toothpastes because of the risk of them swallowing it, which, in large amounts, would ultimately kill a child and seriously implicate the health of an adult. Fluoride is often added to water supplies, toothpastes and some drinks, it’s typically a waste product of the aluminium, phosphate and nuclear fertiliser industries.
– Triclosan: An antibacterial agent and preservative, also a substance commonly used in pesticides, a hormone and endocrine disrupter and has recently been found to affect the normal functioning of the heart in a study by California Davis. The FDA are currently re-evaluating it’s safety for human use.
– Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): This is the thing that makes toothpastes foam up when brushing your teeth, however Dr Mercola claims problems occur during the manufacturing process when it’s contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, which is a known carcinogen. Other research shows irritation of the mucosa in the mouth, subsequently altering the structure and thus making it more susceptible to absorbing other toxic chemicals found in the toothpaste. EWG Skin Deep database’s studies show SLS increases organ toxicity, and has adverse affects on biochemical and cellular changes, problems in developmental and reproductive toxicity and may lead to mutations and cancer.
– Artificial colouring: Titanium dioxide is used in toothpastes to give it the bright white colour, other toothpastes often contain added colours such as the famous red and blue line ever-so-neatly running along the sides. Many scientists however, claim a link to ADHD and hyperactivity in children, also possible causes of frequent headaches and nausea.
– Glycerin: A colourless liquid derived from things like lard, it’s use is to sweeten and preserve toothpaste. Glycerin, however, has been proven to leave a film on the tooth surface that interferes with the natural biofilm, altering the micro-biome in the mouth, negatively impacting upon the remineralisation process (the natural cavity fighting process). Glycerin also has been shown to coat teeth, preventing benefits from minerals in our saliva.
– Artificial sweeteners: Used to make the toothpastes taste appealing. Things like aspartame and saccharin however, have been shown to cause cancer in animals, and differing and fluctuating levels in humans.
The above list really isn’t at all exhaustive in explaining the extent to which these toxic ingredients go to. A quick search on Google would show numerous articles all pointing to the same argument: commercial toothpaste is very questionable. Even though we obviously don’t swallow the toothpaste, our bodies still absorb all of these chemicals, which leads me to why I decided to make my own. By making your own toothpaste, you know exactly what you’re putting in, all natural ingredients that have been shown time and time again that they work and are effective. This still leaves the question of ‘but don’t we need fluoride etc to maintain healthy teeth?’ and in my opinion based on the research I’ve done, no, we don’t. The truth is, we don’t even need toothpaste at all; it’s not the toothpaste that removes plaque, it’s the actual act of brushing. Of course, toothpaste was invented to aid this process, but when did we get carried away with adding all the unnecessary chemicals? Below is a list of the ingredients I used to make my toothpaste, and their benefits:
– Coconut oil: Renowned for containing anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties that help keep your mouth clean. Studies show that coconut oil kills bacteria that would contribute to tooth decay
-Bicarbonate of soda: A mild abrasive for getting rid of surface stains, aiding in cleaning and whitening teeth. Anti acid properties also protect tooth enamel from acid erosion, help in caring for gums and restoring a healthy pH balance.
– Pink Himalayan sea salt (finely ground): Gently scrubs teeth and also contains some antibacterial properties. Research shows that this type of salt purifies the mouth and it has effective infection-fighting properties.
– Peppermint essential oil: Apart from the obvious that peppermint provides minty freshness and combats bad breath, studies also say it is extremely efficient in killing anaerobic bacteria (which is what causes gum disease).
These are but a few reasons why all natural is superior in my opinion, I have yet to find a negative thing in relation to any of the above ingredients. Of course there are already brands out there that manufacture toothpastes of a natural nature, but they are quite costly and some have added ingredients that are potentially harmful. Here is my recipe for natural toothpaste:
A small pot of toothpaste
You will need…
❄️ 2 tbsp coconut oil (organic if possible)
❄️ 2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
❄️ Drops of peppermint essential oil (30-40), adjust to taste
❄️ (Optional) 1/2 tsp finely ground pink Himalayan salt
How to make:
1) If you’re including the salt, grind in a pestle and mortar until fine and add to a dish.