Dentifrice – toothpaste or toothpowder whichever, it is basically an abrasive to clean and polish the teeth. Most brands come packed in masses of plastic. Plastic which cannot be recycled. Or rather it probably can be as most plastics technically can be recycled, but is far too difficult and costly to do so.
Which is bad BUT worse still the paste itself may contain plastic! Did you know that at least 12 Crest toothpastes have been identified as containing microbeads of polyethylene (PE). You can find a full list here And Crest are by no means the only manufacturer who does this.
There there’s all the other stuff. “Every toothpaste contains the following ingredients: binders, abrasives, sudsers, humectants, flavors (unique additives), sweeteners, fluorides, tooth whiteners, a preservative, and water. Binders thicken toothpastes. Some binders are karaya gum, bentonite, sodium alginate, methylcellulose, carrageenan, and magnesium aluminum silicate.
Read more about toothpaste and how it is made here.
What with the sudsing agents and binders you might be tempted to make your own toothpaste. It’s very easy but there are some important issues you need to be aware of.
The abrasivity of your home made paste
That it will not contain flouride.
The following information is for guidance only. None of the following recipes or tips have not been tested on anyone other than me. I strongly advise you do your own research and proceed very carefully. These are your teeth!
Be aware of the risks of listening to someone who
a) doesn’t have any training in this field,
b) most of what they know comes from Google,
That’s me I mean.
Research well and discuss everything with your dentist.
The key to making tooth powder is to find something abrasive and ugh to remove the plaque but not so harsh it removes the enamel from your teeth. Which is why you need to research carefully and take internet claims with a huge pinch of salt.
Relative dentin abrasivity (RDA) is a a way of measuring the effect that the abrasive components of the toothpaste have on a tooth.
The RDA scale was developed by the American Dental Association The higher the abrasive value the greater the wear on the enamal. Toothpaste makers regularly measure their product’s abrasivity. It’s necessary for FDA approval,
BY US law, a dentifrice is required to have a level lower than 250 to be considered safe .
0-70 Low abrasive: safe for cementum, dentin and enamel
70-100 Medium abrasive: safe for enamel, dangerous for cementum and dentin
100-150 High abrasive: dangerous for cementum, dentin and enamel
150-250 Very high abrasive: harmful limit, damaging for teeth
250 and above Not recommended.
4 brushing teeth with water
7 baking soda
Commerical pastes from 8 to 200 Colgate 2-in-1 Tartar Control / White
can find a full list here
Stuff I have used to clean my teeth
Bicarbonate of soda
Chalk – Calcium carbonate
Salt and Bicarbonate of soda can be used neat. And as you can see bicarbonate has a very low RDA score
The rest have to be mixed because they have different abrasive qualities.
My home-made toothpowder contains chalk kaolin and bentonite clay. Sadly there are no RDA scores that i can find for any of these abrasives. The following is what I have gleaned from the internet. Please do your own research.
Chalk is the hardest and so most abrasive element. Chalk is often in commercial toothpaste but not as often as silica. When comparing the two it seem that depending on particle size…
A comparison between different abrasives with similar particle sizes showed that silica presents higher RDA values than calcium carbonate. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11413496
Aromantics reccomend Use up to 40% in Toothpastes
That kaolin and Bentinite are both very soft,and have a positive score on the cleaning efficiency index.
The Cleaning Efficiency Index’ (CEI)
This is a very interesting article but sadly I can find no links to original research. Google hasn’t come up with anything either.
Researchers studying stains, abrasivity, and cleaning ability found that a relationship exists between the relative abrasivity and the cleaning ability. They came up with what they call ‘Cleaning Efficiency Index’ (CEI).
The Cleaning Efficiency Index really ranks the combination of abrasivity in relation to cleaning ability.
low abrasive AND low cleaning ability. Not good = low efficiency score
high abrasive AND high cleaning ability. Not good either = low efficiency score
low abrasive AND high cleaning ability. Very good. This combination would give the highest ‘cleaning efficiency’ index score.
Read the full article HERE
And then there is this about Bentonite.
“The real benefit of bentonite clay is that it is abrasive enough to remove the plaque but not so much so that it will do damage to your enamel,” Graves says. Like charcoal, it may also help raise the pH of your mouth, making it more challenging for bacteria to grow.” Read the article HERE
The following is an account of my own experiences which may help you in your own research.
Home Made Dentifrice
Salt Ughhh you buy plastic free salt here.
Bicarbonate of soda can be used neat. Also ugh!!!
“Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), a product used for many years by itself or in combination with other ingredients has several excellent properties. As a soft crystalline substance that dissolves readily, it has a mild abrasive potential. In solution it will kill on contact all of the motile microorganisms associated with periodontal infections, e.g. spirochetes, motile rods, etc. It will also kill other disease related bacteria. It will also neutralize and detoxify the bacterial acids and toxins that form in plaques (bacterial biofilms). ” for more got to mizar
And of course it has a very low RDA of 7.
You can read more and find out where to buy plastic free bicarb HERE
BUT for all its sterling qualities, I find bicarbonate far too soapy tasting to use un-cut. Knowing how it is made I am not sure I want to put it in my mouth
My Home Made Toothpowder
1 part chalk NB Chalk This is pharmaceutical grade not the rough old stuff they use in fish tanks.
1 part kaolin
1 part bentonite clay. Yes I am literally cleaning my teeth with earth and it doe feel gritty.
I like this one but the bentonite does feel gritty in your mouth. The paste however has no taste which is nice. After the salt and the bicarb.
Put in a jar and shake well – use as tooth powder or mix to a stiff paste with water. You can add flavour with peppermint oil.
It is just like real toothpaste. Even leaves white marks on your clothes!
Paste with Bi-carb
I used to use bicarb in one of my early toothpaste recipes mixed with two dentifrices and Orris Root. Orris root is a natural preservative and helps the flavor along.
1 part chalk
1 part kaolin
1 part Orris Root
1 part bicarb
Put in a jar and shake well – use as tooth powder or mix to a stiff paste with water. Though it worked I wasn’t really happy with the taste and orris root is very expensive.
Buy plastic free bicarb HERE
Chalk -Buy pharmaceutical grade not the rough old stuff they use in fish tanks.
You can buy the chalk, kaolin and Orris Root from EBay or Aromantics . The products come in a plastic bags – booo… but they are polythene so easily recycled and I get huge amounts tooth powder out of one small bag of ingredients. I consider it a worthwhile compromise and far less plastic than any other option.
buy ready made dentifrice
If you want a better informed opinion I suggest you head on over to the Aromantics website. . They will sell you everything you need to make toothpaste including recipes you can download as a PDF. They have been in this game for years and are far more qualified then I am.
Do You Need Dentifrice
You might want to consider if you even need to use a dentifrice. According to many a good brushing will do the job just as well.
“One of the best ways to control plaque is brushing your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day. But you don’t need toothpaste to do this, just a soft toothbrush and good brushing techniques” will remove plaque.
What, No Flouride?
You must consider this
Of course home made toothpaste or a no toothpaste regime will mean a cut in fluoride.
“Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral which helps to prevent tooth decay.
Which is why it’s added to many brands of toothpaste.
“Brushing your teeth thoroughly with fluoride toothpaste is one of the most effective ways of preventing tooth decay.” Read about fluoride and the NHS here.
And this Article is also USEFUL.
The most effective ways to avoid tooth decay are avoid sugar and good brushing. But flouride also helps.
In the UK fluoride is added to some tap water. Contact your water authority to find out if yours is.
You can also buy fluoride tablets and mouth washes.
It is also present in tea and the NHS reccomended you limit your intake to 3 mugs a day.
This was a study of fluoride levels in 38 teas, mainly bought from UK supermarkets. The authors point out that fluoride is an essential micronutrient, needed to prevent dental decay and promote healthy bone growth. However, consumed in excess it can lead to a condition called fluorosis, which can damage both teeth and bones.
Flouride can be poisonous even kill if consumed in large amounts.
Flouride powder can be bought on Amazon. Where I also saw this
Question: Can I add this to homemade toothpaste?
Answer: Yes, many folks add this to their toothpaste formulas, typically in commercial toothpastes there is a concentration (by weight) of 1 – 1.5%
By Professor Fullwood SELLER on February 7, 2016
No comment your call.
While the RDA score has been shown to have a statistically significant correlation to the presence of abrasion, it is not the only contributing factor to consider. Other factors such as the amount of pressure used whilst brushing, the type, thickness and dispersion of bristle in the toothbrush and the time spent brushing are other factors that contribute to dental abrasion.
See all our posts on plasticfree dental care, HERE.