There are two reasons why people are actively seeking out natural alternatives to replace their store-bought tubes of toothpaste. One, in spite of using conventional toothpaste, 18% children between 5 and 19 years and 31% adults between 20 and 44 years suffer from untreated dental caries.1 Which means the toothpaste we’re using is not all that effective after all. Two, with all the research about harmful chemicals being used by toothpaste-manufacturing brands, we can’t help but look for something that’s safer for our precious pearly whites.2 3 4
Does that mean we’re back to using mint twigs and washcloths like our medieval ancestors? Thankfully, no.
There’s a vast world of completely safe natural alternatives that we can use to keep our smile healthy and happy. Here are some of the best 5 we think you should consider.
1. Coconut Oil
[pullquote]Dip your brush in some coconut oil and brush away. You could even combine it with natural abrasive agents like turmeric or baking soda if you like.[/pullquote]
Thanks to its antifungal and antibacterial properties, coconut rushes to our rescue in all sorts of bodily emergencies like chapped lips and skin rashes.5 It is this same set of properties that makes coconut oil an excellent natural alternative to your store-bought toothpaste.
2. Baking soda
[pullquote]Mix about 3 drops of coconut oil into some baking soda powder till you get a paste-like consistency. Use this as a toothpaste.[/pullquote]
Studies have found that baking soda is very effective not just for cleaning teeth but also in removing plaque to fend off tooth decay.6 Baking soda is in fact already a very important ingredient in most toothpastes that you buy at your chemist’s. It may be a little grittier and a lot less pleasant to the tongue as compared to regular toothpaste, but it does the job just as well!
The only drawback? Baking soda being abrasive in texture may be a little too harsh to brush your teeth with twice a day. So we recommend mixing it with a little coconut oil for a gentler brushing.
[pullquote]Dip a cotton swab into some 3% hydrogen peroxide solution and rub it over your teeth. Give it 2 minutes to rest on your teeth before you rinse it off with water.[/pullquote]
Peroxide has powerful antibacterial properties and can thus make for an effective toothpaste alternative. But beware; peroxide can potentially burn and damage your gums, so you’re going to want to dilute it in some water. This will make it safe enough for you to brush with it at full strength. You could also buy a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution from the local chemist’s; that’s perfectly safe to use as well.
4. Activated Charcoal
[pullquote]Dip a toothbrush into powdered activated charcoal or add a capsule of charcoal on the bristles. Brush for 2 minutes using gentle circular motions before spitting it out and rinsing your mouth.[/pullquote]
Don’t let the color scare you; this option is super useful if you’re looking to ditch that tube of paste.
Activated charcoal works by binding itself to toxins since it’s highly absorbent in nature. Apply it on your teeth, and it’s going to pull in all those toxins from your mouth as well as help remove those stains. Not only that, this substance can also help restore your mouth’s natural pH, thus keeping harmful bacteria at bay. It is therefore great for preventing cavities and treating tooth decay and gingivitis.
Because it passes out of your system easily without being absorbed by your body, you don’t need to worry if you happen to swallow a little.
Note: While you won’t be disappointed with the teeth-cleaning properties of activated charcoal, you’re certainly not going to like what it does to your basin. Remember to spit out the charcoal carefully into the drain so as to avoid staining.
[pullquote]Xylitol is available as gums, lozenges, and powdered sugar form. Either chew on the gum or lozenges or swish the sugar around your mouth. You may follow it up with brushing your teeth.[/pullquote]
A naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in fruits and vegetables, xylitol is often used as a substitute for sugar in certain food products. Certain studies agree that this may help prevent tooth decay, but we’d like a little more evidence to back these claims.7
|↑1||Oral and Dental Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑2||Agrawal, S. S., and R. S. Ray. “Nicotine contents in some commonly used toothpastes and toothpowders: a present scenario.” Journal of toxicology 2012 (2012).|
|↑3||Kanduti, Domen, Petra Sterbenk, and Barbara Artnik. “Fluoride: a review of use and effects on health.” Materia socio-medica 28, no. 2 (2016): 133.|
|↑4||Dodson, Robin E., Marcia Nishioka, Laurel J. Standley, Laura J. Perovich, Julia Green Brody, and Ruthann A. Rudel. “Endocrine disruptors and asthma-associated chemicals in consumer products.” Environmental health perspectives 120, no. 7 (2012): 935.|
|↑5||Peedikayil, Faizal C., Vimal Remy, Seena John, T. P. Chandru, Prathima Sreenivasan, and Gufran Ahmed Bijapur. “Comparison of antibacterial efficacy of coconut oil and chlorhexidine on Streptococcus mutans: An in vivo study.” Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry 6, no. 5 (2016): 447.|
|↑6||Putt, Mark S., Kimberly R. Milleman, Annahita Ghassemi, Linda M. Vorwerk, William J. Hooper, Pramod M. Soparkar, Anthony E. Winston, and Howard M. Proskin. “Enhancement of plaque removal efficacy by tooth brushing with baking soda dentifrices: results of five clinical studies.” Journal of Clinical Dentistry 19, no. 4 (2008): 111.|
|↑7||Nayak, Prathibha Anand, Ullal Anand Nayak, and Vishal Khandelwal. “The effect of xylitol on dental caries and oral flora.” Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dentistry 6 (2014): 89.|