Many parents are looking for ways to live simpler, greener and healthier. For some, this means living organically. This trend extends to making your own cleaners, shampoos, soaps and even toothpaste using all-natural ingredients found around the home. Not only are such items often better for your health, they can also be less expensive than their commercial counterparts.
Chemicals in Toothpastes
Most people think that when your toothpaste lathers up a nice foam, it’s working well. In actuality, the ingredient that causes all those bubbles is a chemical called sodium lauryl sulfate. SLS has nothing to do with preventing tooth decay; in fact, it has been linked to canker sores. Another chemical many toothpastes use is sodium hydroxide, otherwise known as lye. In addition, many commercial toothpastes, especially those made for children, contain artificial sweeteners. These chemicals, along with fluoride, are the reason commercial toothpastes have warnings not to swallow too much.
Homemade toothpastes may clean teeth, but they don’t contain fluoride, which strengthens teeth. For some moms who have concerns about fluoride’s safety, that’s a plus. Others who prefer fluoride’s decay-preventing properties may prefer to supplement their child’s homemade toothpaste with fluoride tablets, or give their child water that has fluoride in it.
To make your homemade toothpaste, mix 3 tbsp. of baking soda with 2 tbsp. coconut oil and a packet of the natural sweetener stevia. You can skip the coconut oil if you don’t like coconut, but refined coconut oil has a mild flavor and gives the toothpaste the smooth texture of commercial toothpastes. Or use 4 tsp. vegetable glycerin in place of the coconut oil, which gives the solution the consistency of gel. A simple toothpaste can be made with 4 tbsp. baking soda and 1 tbsp. salt. The salt acts as a gentle abrasive.
Making It Tasty
Your homemade toothpaste may get the job done, but your children probably won’t want to use it if it doesn’t taste good. Add a teaspoon (or about 20 drops) of your child’s favorite essential oil or flavoring. Peppermint oil is a good choice but can taste somewhat “hot.” Spearmint is better for children with sensitive mouths. Vanilla or almond extract can also be used.
Storage and Use
Store your toothpaste in an airtight, covered container. Use warm water to rinse the excess down the sink, as the coconut will stick to the sides of the sink if used with cold water. With no detergents, this all-natural toothpaste won’t foam, so it might take your children some time to get used to it.