Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tooth powder

After a year spent trying every kind of natural toothpaste on the market (including a particularly atrocious one called Peelu, which contains tiny vegetable fibers that, rather than cleaning your teeth, get stuck between them!), and then using tooth soap for a few months, I was about to get myself some ash and a twig and do things the old fashioned way. Fortunately I saw sense, and decided instead to try tooth powder (recipe found in Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition -- a FANTASTIC book I recommend to everyone). I was hesitant at first because I tend to have sensitive teeth and I thought this would worsen the sensitivity because the salt is a little abrasive. However, it seemed my teeth were turning yellow with the tooth soap (which makes sense as there is nothing abrasive in tooth soap, which is simply a liquid -- however, I am sure it works well for many people), so I decided tooth powder might be the answer. It is more palatable than brushing with baking soda alone, though it definitely does have a salty flavor.

The problem with toothpastes, even those that are fluoride-free (remember, fluoride is an industrial poison and can cause tooth decay, late eruption of teeth from the gums, fluorosis (white spots on teeth), and many more problems), and contain no SLS (sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate), is that every single brand has glycerin, which is derived from vegetables and needed to maintain moistness. Unfortunately, glycerin is an inherently sticky paste which adheres very stubbornly to teeth and causes problems over time -- it would take 28 rinses to get all the glycerin off, and who has time for that?!

I have been brushing for about a week with tooth powder and so far, it is hands-down my favorite.

Tooth powder recipe:
1 tbsp. baking soda
1 tsp. fine-ground Celtic sea salt
10 drops peppermint oil

Mix all. Sprinkle a pinch or two on a wet toothbrush and enjoy the clean feeling and a very healthy smile!

And yes, I store ours in an individual-sized glass butter dish from Williams-Sonoma. At $6, this was the most expensive part of our tooth-cleaning regimen.

Don't forget that in the past, people did not use toothpaste, but rather brushed with things like ash and baking soda. Some people, like the Swiss living in isolated areas of the Rhone Valley, never brushed and still enjoyed complete freedom from decay (as Weston A. Price discovered)! Along with bad food, toothpaste is a modern invention and a grand money-making scheme. People who have decayed teeth have them because of a diet poor in nutrients and/or rich in refined sugar, white flour, and other processed, denatured foods. (To sum up the reason for this, it is due to the fact that these foods cause an imbalance in blood sugar, resulting in minerals being pulled from the bones and teeth. I highly recommend reading Cure Tooth Decay to completely understand your dental well-being and how to improve it, regardless of age or dental health. Most of the decay problems begin on the inside of the body, in the level and balance of specific minerals in the blood stream, not in the mouth itself.)

There is much more to be discussed on this topic, but here is one example of how the modernization of diet has transformed our dental health, facial structure, and dental palate width (thus plaguing every modern child for the last 40 years with cavities, crowded teeth, malocclusion, and impacted wisdom teeth) -- truly a triumph for the dental and orthodontic industries, but a tragedy for the rest of us!

The grandmother, at right, was of Polish Jewish descent and born in 1899 to recent immigrants to London's East End from Galicia. She lived to be 90 years old. Note the wide face and wide dental palate, with ample room for all her teeth (and no, this woman did not have orthodontics!). Her daughter's face is much narrower, with a noticeably narrowed dental palate, but still with straight teeth (as she grew up during the 30s, she would not have had orthodontics either). The little boy at left is the most striking -- a narrow face, narrow dental palate, and teeth that will need a lot of help to be straight. We can only speculate about the diet of the grandmother as a child, and the diet of her mother while she was pregnant and breastfeeding, but likely it was very nutrient-dense, with plenty of liver, sourdough breads, preserved fish and meats, and much more. (for a closer look, see this link)


  1. I'm so glad to see this, Hannah! I've been thinking about making my own toothpaste, since I make my own deodorant (with coconut oil!). Did you try it without the peppermint oil, btw? I don't currently own any and only seem to find pricey brands...

  2. Oh! I meant to mention earlier that I was told (by a dentist, no less!) that brushing with toothpaste isn't really necessary. It's the actual brushing motion (plus flossing) that gets rid of gunk on our teeth, but the catch is that you have to brush for a good bit (at least 2 minutes). Sometimes when I decide that's what I'll do, I forego the toothpaste and have a seat in the bathroom with a magazine and scrub away for a while, and my teeth feel like I've just been to the dentist! (My husband is known for brushing too hard, though, as evidenced by his mashed toothpaste bristle, so I'm guessing that would be a problem to watch out for...) But now that you recommend this new recipe, perhaps I'll try it for a while instead!