Should You Make Your Own Toothpaste? Here’s What the Experts Say
Keeping your teeth clean is important to maintaining good oral health. You may also want your teeth to appear as white as possible. While it may be tempting to explore homemade toothpaste to clean and whiten your teeth naturally, consider this idea with caution.
Homemade toothpaste doesn’t contain certain ingredients, like fluoride, that will help you reduce cavities and address other oral health conditions.
There are many natural ways to promote good oral health, but few studies advocate the use of homemade toothpaste over those available commercially.
Dr. Hamid Mirsepasi, a dentist in the Dallas, Texas, area, warns about the use of natural toothpaste: “They are becoming popular, but while the ingredients are natural, that does not mean they are safe for teeth.”
Keep reading if you’re still interested in making your own toothpaste. We’ve provided some recipes you can try, but keep these precautions in mind as you decide what’s best for your teeth.
Upsides of making your own toothpaste
Making your own toothpaste may interest you for a few reasons. You may want to:
- control the ingredients in your toothpaste
- reduce your consumption of plastic packaging
- customize the texture, flavor, or abrasiveness
- cut cost
Downsides of making your own toothpaste
You’ll need to purchase supplies
To make your own toothpaste, you’ll need to gather the appropriate supplies, such as a container to store the toothpaste, mixing and measuring tools, and the specific ingredients for your desired mixture.
Some online recipes have harmful ingredients
Be wary of natural toothpaste recipes, even if they contain ingredients that seem harmless. Always avoid using hydrogen peroxide or vinegar in homemade toothpaste. These ingredients can break down your tooth enamel and cause yellowing teeth and problems with your gums.
“Some [homemade recipe] ingredients are acidic and may damage the enamel like lemon juice, and others might be abrasive like baking soda. These can be very harmful for enamel if used regularly.”
— Dr. Hamid Mirsepasi, dentist, Dallas, Texas
Homemade toothpaste doesn’t include fluoride
Keep in mind that your homemade toothpaste won’t contain fluoride. Fluoride is proven to be the most effective ingredient in toothpaste for preventing cavities.
Mirsepasi says about fluoride, “It can greatly help dental health by strengthening the enamel and making it more resistant to tooth decay.”
Toothpaste recipes to try
If you’re still determined to make your own toothpaste, here are some suggestions and natural recipes you can experiment with to clean and whiten your teeth.
Keep in mind that these methods aren’t recommended by the ADA.
1. Baking soda toothpaste
Baking soda is an ingredient often found in toothpaste. According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, baking soda:
- is safe
- kills germs
- is a gentle abrasive
- works well with fluoride (in commercial toothpaste)
Keep in mind that using too much baking soda can wear off the top layer of your enamel, which won’t grow back. You also want to keep in mind that baking soda is a salt-based product, in case you’re monitoring your salt intake.
- Mix 1 tsp. of baking soda with a small amount of water (you can add water based on the texture you prefer).
You may want to consider adding a flavoring to your toothpaste by using essential oil (such as peppermint), but more research is needed to support the use of essential oils for the treatment of dental conditions.
Don’t swallow baking soda or essential oils.
2. Coconut oil toothpaste (oil pulling)
Swishing oil in your mouth — a practice is known as oil pulling — may lead to some oral health benefits, but there’s limited research on its effectiveness.
You can try this technique by moving a small amount of oil around in your mouth for 5 to 20 minutes at a time every day. One study found that oil pulling with coconut oil reduced plaque after seven days.
3. Sage toothpaste or mouth rinse
Sage mouthwash recipe
You can make a sage mouthwash by mixing a handful of sage leaves and a teaspoon of salt in 3 oz. of boiling water.
When the mixture is cooled, swish it around in your mouth, and then spit it out after a few minutes. This may clean your mouth naturally, but it’s not a research-proven recipe.
Sage toothpaste recipe
An untested sage toothpaste recipe combines these ingredients:
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tbsp. powdered orange peel
- 2 tsp. dried sage
- several drops of peppermint essential oil
Grind these ingredients together and mix them with a little water for toothpaste.
Keep in mind that using citrus or other fruits directly on your teeth can be very damaging because of their natural acids. This can lead to cavities and tooth sensitivity.
In recent years, charcoal has drawn increased attention as a health and beauty product.
While you may want to incorporate charcoal into homemade toothpaste, no research currently exists that promotes the effectiveness or safety of the ingredient for your teeth.
Some websites claim that brushing your teeth or using a mouth rinse with powdered charcoal has benefits, but use caution if you try these methods. Charcoal may be overly abrasive and actually damage the top layer of your tooth enamel if you’re not careful.
Other ways to keep your smile bright
Your teeth lose minerals as you age. Rather than relying on a natural toothpaste, try keeping up healthy lifestyle habits like eating fruits and vegetables and reducing sugary and acidic foods to remineralize teeth.
Regular oral care like brushing with fluoride toothpaste will also help.
Avoid dark-colored beverages and tobacco
Eating a well-balanced diet and avoiding teeth-staining beverages can help you keep your teeth healthy and white.
Dark beverages like coffee, tea, soda, and red wine may stain your teeth, so keeping away from them will help you keep your smile bright. Tobacco products can also take away the natural white shine of your teeth.
Homemade toothpaste for young children
Before you try out homemade toothpaste on a young child or infant, consult your dentist or doctor. The ADA recommends the use of fluoride toothpaste for all people with teeth, regardless of age.
Infants and children should use the appropriate amount of toothpaste for their age.
Make sure your children eat a well-balanced diet with fruits like apples, crunchy and leafy vegetables, and proteins like eggs and nuts to help them keep their teeth healthy. Limiting sticky and sugary foods will also maintain good oral health.
It may be tempting to make your own toothpaste to reduce your plastic consumption and control the ingredients in your toothpaste. However, homemade recipes don’t incorporate fluoride, which prevents cavities. Some recipes might damage the irreplaceable enamel of your teeth.
Talk to your dentist about natural ways to keep your teeth healthy, clean, and white, and use caution when trying homemade toothpaste recipes.
Maintaining good oral health will keep you healthy overall. This includes considering fluoride toothpaste and visiting your dentist regularly.