Homemade toothpaste is effective, inexpensive and better for the environment

The average American will use three toothpaste tubes a year—sending hundreds of millions of them to sit in overcrowded landfills. Commercial toothpaste, and many so-called natural alternatives are loaded with unnatural chemicals and fillers, such as white mica, fluoride, sodium lauryl sulfate and triclosan.

There’s no question that good oral hygiene is important to our health. Dentists recommend brushing and flossing at least twice a day to reduce the risk of plaque buildup, which has been linked to diseases like gingivitis, periodontal disease and even an increased risk of heart disease and strokes.

The EPA recently approved lowering fluoride levels in drinking water because of our overexposure to the chemical commonly found in toothpastes, mouthwashes and dental treatments. Though it has its benefits, there are risks in ingesting too much fluoride and many of us already get plenty of it.

Reduce your costs, your exposure to harmful ingredients and the amount of trash you create by making your own toothpaste.

Tooth cleansing powders were used long before pastes and are still quite popular in Europe. Many people prefer them for their abrasive, extra-clean feeling, but you can easily make this recipe into a paste by adding water and glycerin.

Don’t mess with a good thing, right? Baking soda is an inexpensive, wonderful, gentle cleansing agent and the base of this DIY tooth powder.

Salt has long been revered for its preserving and antimicrobial properties. Add one-teaspoon coarse mineral salt to ¼ cup baking soda. Add 5-10 drops of your favorite essential oils. Mix a few drops cinnamon, peppermint and spearmint for a lovely cinnamint, or use them separately. Tangerine, lemon or orange are also great choices. Clove and tea tree are super oral hygiene oils. Play around with different ones in each batch. Most essential oils are safe to eat in small amounts, and you’ll be spitting this out anyway.

Mix well so the oils are well distributed. This mixture will be crumbly and powdery. You can use as-is by putting into a small squeeze bottle, or mix in ¼ teaspoon hydrogen peroxide for extra whitening, and small amounts of water until the mixture is pasty. Vegetable glycerin will make it more gel-like by adding 2-4 teaspoons and reducing water content. Reuse an old toothpaste tube if you can, and now you’ve really got something to smile about!

Optional: add a ½-1 teaspoon of pure vitamin C powder. It is cleansing and antibacterial.

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Photo: Lars P.