Herbal Dental Care

I just got back from having my teeth cleaned. While it’s not on my top-100 list of favorite things to do, it seems to be one of those necessary evils. However, the last two cleanings have been short and, while not pleasant, weren’t painful. I put it all down to the fact that I quit using commercial toothpaste.

First, let me preface the rest of this post with “do everything your dentist tells you to do”. Brush, floss, rinse, get regular checkups, the whole nine. I don’t need the ADA climbing down my throat.

Back to my thoughts: nearly a year ago, I had to quit using any of the mints (which contain salicylates) due to a protocol that I’m on to treat my fibromyalgia. (Sigh. I really miss mint-chocolate-chip ice cream and now there’s a television commercial for a seasonal peppermint milkshake that’s making my mouth water.) The toothpastes on the shelf where I do my shopping is all mint-flavored or salicylate-containing of one variety or another. There are a few toothpastes out there that don’t have mints or salicylates in them but the price made me choke. So, I decided to make my own tooth powder. I figured if it was good enough for folks prior to about 1850, it should be good enough for me.

To one-half cup of baking soda (the same that you buy at the grocery store), I add ten drops of Myrrh essential oil (antibacterial) and three drops of Sage essential oil. Sage leaves have been using for eons as a tooth cleaner and whitener. I’m too lazy to powder some dried Sage so I use the EO. (If you want to use powdered Sage, use about one tablespoon per half cup of baking soda.) If you want the minty flavor, add up to ten drops of Peppermint or Spearmint essential oil; or spice it up a bit with up to ten drops of Cinnamon EO. (You may have to experiment a bit to get the flavor to your liking as the EOs are strong-tasting.) Mix very, very well to get the oils completely distributed through the powder. Store it in a jar with a tight-fitting lid in the same place you keep your toothpaste.

To use, wet your toothbrush and dip the bristles in the powder, getting just a little less on the brush than you would toothpaste. Brush and rinse as usual. I do one more thing for cleaning and whitening purposes: instead of using water to wet my toothbrush, I use hydrogen peroxide – available in the first aid aisle of most stores. Hydrogen peroxide is a disinfectant, antiseptic and a bleaching agent. The bottle you buy at the store is only a 3.5% solution so it’s a weak version but helpful nonetheless.

I smoke (yes, I know how bad it is – no nasty comments, please) and do other bad things like drink coffee, tea and cola. I have a white bathroom sink so I can see how much stain is coming off every time I brush – it’s not a pretty sight. The first time I saw the dental hygienist after I started using this mixture she thought I had quit smoking. Today she remembered that I still smoke but commented on how little she had to do, either scraping or polishing. I also have no gum problems and no new cavities.

Dentists are really mixed in their opinions on using baking soda. Some say it’s perfectly OK, others say it’s too coarse and will harm teeth over time. My dentist falls into the latter category but since there are those that say it’s all right to use, I figure I’ll go with them and save some money. My cost: less than 25¢. Tube of toothpaste for hubby that lasts about the same amount of time: $2.50. (Can’t get him to switch.)

You can still buy commercial tooth powders – I’ve only found them on the Internet and they’re expensive, too. I’ve been told that they are not as coarse as regular baking soda but frankly, I couldn’t tell the difference. I’ll stick with the homemade stuff.

I’ve seen some tooth powder recipes that include salt – specifically, finely ground sea salt. The rationale behind the salt is sound … it breaks up the sugars in the mouth and naturally tightens gum tissues. I just don’t like to add more sodium anywhere if I can avoid it so I don’t use it in my recipe. If you want to try it, use equal portions of soda and salt.

I’m clear of the dentist for another four months. What a relief!


  • sunny Posted November 16, 2009 11:57 am

    Good post… no mint chocolate ice cream? ARGH! Do salicylates aggravate your fibromayagia? Just curious… When I run out of toothpaste, I do the baking soda and salt routine. My teeth always feel slicker than with a toothpaste. I might consider using homemade from now on, if I can get the mixture right with the EO. Thanks for the info. I love reading your blog!

    • DJ Posted November 16, 2009 12:29 pm

      Sunny, researchers have found one of the causes of FM is that the body stores phosphates in muscle tissue rather than excreting them normally through the urine. (There’s a longer explanation and I’d be happy to give you the website link if you’re interested.) The buildup of phosphates is what causes the pain. Guaifenesin helps the body get rid of the phosphates but salicylates block the guaifenesin from working. A lot of foods, herbs, personal care products, etc., have salicylates in them but thankfully I haven’t had to go totally salicylate-free (really boring!), just watch my intake and product use very carefully. Peppermint & spearmint seem to be a couple of the worst offenders for me, personally. I treat myself to something minty maybe once a quarter and then pay the price for a week or so. It’s worth it.

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