Natural options for skincare and makeup get a lot of attention, but one of the most difficult – and most important – switches for me was ‘greening’ my mouth care routine. Yes, do-it-yourself toothpaste is one of the toughest transitions – second only to DIY deodorant! – if you’ve used commercial products for years. Having fresh breath and healthy teeth is important and these do-it-yourself dental products won’t let you down.
And don’t worry, if you’re not yet into DIY, we’ve found the best natural products to make brushing and flossing safe and effective.
Replace Your Toothbrush
Next, toss your old toothbrush (because it’s probably time to get a new one anyway!). Skip the traditional plastic toothbrushes that are often too harsh and abrasive on your teeth and gums. Look for BPA-free nylon like in these charcoal-infused bristles (how cool is that?!) for extra cleaning and whitening power. Or go totally plant-based with this option for castor bean oil bristles.
Go Gentle with Toothpaste
The common cleansing ingredient found in conventional toothpastes is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a harsh soap that can cause mouth sores and inflammation. And if you’re worried about getting too much fluoride, it’s super simple and satisfying to make your own chemical-free version.
Start with this easy 3-ingredient recipe and then venture into adding trace minerals and probiotics. It does take some time to adjust because the consistency is very different from conventional toothpaste. But not only does it taste way better (no more feeling like your mouth is on fire!) but you also get fresh minty breath and soft coconut-y lips.
Oil Pulling Before You Brush
Before you brush, try oil pulling, an ancient Ayruveda holistic dental care method that involves nothing more than swishing cold-pressed oil in your mouth for a certain amount of time. The idea behind oil pulling, as well as the name itself, is that swishing with the oil helps “pull” toxins from your system as you pull the oil through your teeth and gums. The oils typically used are coconut, olive or sesame oil.
We tried it out and found a whole host of benefits: healthier gums, less plaque, better breath, stronger teeth and super soft lips! You can use the an oil that you have in your cupboard or try these pre-portioned coconut oil packets.
Freshen Breath Naturally
If you needed another reason to avoid commercial mouthwash, some scientists now believe that alcohol-based mouthwashes are partly responsible for the worldwide increase in oral cancer. It is believed that alcohol dehydrates cells in the mouth, which then allows carcinogens to more easily permeate the skin and cause cancer. So, while you think you’re doing something good for your teeth and gums every time you swish, you might really be making things much, much worse.
But the good news is that you can still get the disinfecting benefits of mouthwash without the alcohol. This DIY minty mouthwash uses peppermint and tea tree essential oils to freshen breath, kill bad germs and leave your mouth feeling sparkling clean. It also contains minerals to help replenish mineral stores in your teeth and gums, and baking soda to help remove stains and whiten teeth. Plus it tastes great!
Natural Ways To Whiten
Keeping teeth bright and white is a constant battle, especially if you’re a coffee or wine drinker. Hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, activated charcoal and sage are all commonly remedies for at-home whitening without the harsh chemicals.
Strawberries are another favorite. Besides that they’re delicious, strawberries contain malic acid, which works as an astringent to help get rid of stains found on your enamel. Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, removes plaque while polishing teeth, so the combination of these two ingredients makes for a powerful and affordable smile enhancer. Try this strawberry whitening recipe once a week for a whiter smile.
Don’t Forget to Floss
Your dentist is definitely going to recommend that you floss your teeth, but if you’re feeling guilty about not doing it as often as you should, there’s reason to take heart. The New York Times reported last summer that the evidence that flossing reduces plaque and tooth decay is ‘very unreliable,’ though there may be more solid proof that flossing reduces gum inflammation.
If you’re a major flosser, keep it up! If you hate it (like I do, ugh) a natural floss like Cocofloss can make the process more pleasant. The ‘loofah floss’ has a totally different texture as hundreds of polyester and microfiber filaments work together to polish your pearly whites clean.