For some time now I’ve been on a request to find an alternative to toothpaste that would work for my family.
Why? What’s wrong with toothpaste?
Well, a few things actually.
I want to avoid fluoride because I believe it’s a poison when we get too much of it, and since we already get it in our drinking water (I wish I had well water, but I don’t, we drink filtered tap, and our filter doesn’t take out fluoride), I think that’s enough.
[More on fluoride: An interview with a dentist and spokesperson for the Fluoride Action Network on the risks of fluoride.]
Even fluoride-free “natural” toothpastes may be a problem, however. Recently I’ve been reading about glycerin being an ingredient to avoid in toothpaste. Glycerin is even more difficult to say away from than fluoride, it seems. It’s used as a sweetening and preserving agent in toothpaste, but may have a niggling little side effect: some say it prevents remineralization of teeth.
If this is true, it would be a big deal. When we eat or drink, our teeth are exposed to acids and sugars. This causes what would be a temporary breakdown in the enamel. After eating, our teeth, thanks to saliva, begin the work of remineralizing. This can take a couple of hours (one of the reasons snacking is not such a great idea – if you eat again during that window, your teeth have to start the process all over again). Glycerin, according to some, prevents this process by coating the teeth with its stickiness.
I’m not convinced. There doesn’t seem to be any actual evidence, studies or research behind this claim. If you have found some, please let me know!
Still, I attempted to find toothpaste alternatives that don’t contain glycerin. In the past I’ve made my own homemade tooth powders, which I like. But the kids turn up their noses at these, saying they’re “too salty” (the sea salt and baking soda are indeed salty!). So my goal was also to find something the kids would like. Here’s the lineup, from left to right:
Pro: The ingredients in this product are simply: organic saponified olive oil, coconut oil, sea salt and essential oils. It’s certainly all natural. And it only takes a drop to make a very foamy lather in the mouth. It’s concentrated and will last a long time. ToothSoap does make my teeth feel very clean.
Con: The price. I bought mine with a coupon code so I got 2 for the price of 1, but still – these are super pricey, and I’m always nervous the kids are going to knock them over in the bathroom and spill them! I also don’t like the “soapy” aftertaste Speaking of kids, the kids like this product, which surprises me, because I thought they would complain about the soapy taste. Maybe I’m just overly sensitive to it now because I’m pregnant? We’ll see.
I also don’t like the consistency of the product. The liquid-gel is too goopy, and it’s hard to get a few drops on your brush without wasting a lot down the side of the bottle. You can see how the label is discolored because of the product getting all over the bottle. This feels like a bad design and wasteful. ToothSoap.com does sell other formulations that might be better. The Black Cherry liquid actually has a better consistency for getting the right amount on your brush without wasting – even though the liqui-gel is supposed to be superior? Weird.
Cheeky Maiden Dental Soap
Cheeky Maiden has 2 dental soaps at the moment. The one I purchased does not contain Xylitol (the other does). Xylitol is another one of those ingredients that I’m trying to avoid, because I’m not convinced that it is safe.
Pro: All natural ingredients. A handy “dispenser” – all you do to use this dental soap is swipe a wet toothbrush across it. No worries about spillage or wasting. Great for travel and camping. VERY economical – the bar of soap, though small, is less than $3 a pop and will probably last for months. Made by a work at home mom, which I love supporting.
Con: Again, the mild soapy aftertaste. The kids haven’t complained about it, and I like that I can give them their own little personal “sliver” of soap to use.
OraWellness Brushing Blend
OraWellness is a blend of organic essential oils: Organic almond oil, cinnamon oil, clove oil, peppermint oil, spearmint oil, myrrh oil and manuka oils. You can read more about each of these ingredients and their benefits on the website. The website also has some great info about teeth and gum health. Brushing blend is supposed to kill bacteria that cause tooth decay in the mouth. You can use it either in place of or alongside your favorite toothpaste.
Pro: I like the flavor of Brushing Blend. At first it took some getting used to the strong flavor of clove oil, but now I’ve come to appreciate it. I like that Brushing Blend is a multi-purpose product. It can be used as a toothpaste, as a mouthwash (add a couple of drops to a bit of water and swish) to freshen breath and kill germs when you can’t brush, and you can also add a drop to your floss. (By putting a drop on your thumb and forefinger and running the floss between them.)
I think this has great value – especially right now because flossing hurts my gums due to normal pregnancy gingivitis. But for anyone who dreads flossing because of the soreness, the clove oil numbs things up a bit to make it more comfortable. I bet a drop of it, rubbed on a baby’s gums would ease teething pain too!
I also like the texture of the product (it’s thin just like an essential oil) and the bottle, which dispenses one drop on your brush slowly, so that even if a child knocked over the bottle, almost none would be wasted. A definite pro in this household.
Con: Brushing blend is pricey, but because you only use one or two drops, a bottle will likely last you for months and may be equivalent to most toothpastes.They also offer an ongoing “buy 2, get 1 bottle free” campaign.
The Brushing Blend is by far my favorite of the 4 products pictured above. Not wanting the ToothSoap to go to waste, I use a drop of it along with a drop of Brushing Blend (so I don’t notice the soapy aftertaste of the ToothSoap).
Have you tried any toothpaste alternatives lately? What are your favorites?