No more toothpaste

I have receipts that I need to sit down and analyze in order to update my "January Challenge" series but I've been at a swim meet all day today so my brain is FRIED. I managed to completely underestimate the amount of time we'd be at the meet and I failed to realize that I had no cash in my purse so the concession stand was not an option and we didn't bring much food. So I subsisted on a box of Nerds and a soda. My friend, H, pointed out, "Your dentist will love you!".

Except he won't. He doesn't. I do nothing for him other than use up his time and get him the bare minimum of Tricare Dental reimbursements.

I have no cavities. I never have. It isn't due to my stellar diet (see above) nor is it due to my fanatical oral hygiene habits. I brush twice a day (most of the time...sometimes I collapse before I get a toothbrush in my mouth at night) and I floss...when I remember to or when I have something stuck in my teeth. But I drink sodas (too many). I don't have a sweet 'tooth'...I have a sweet 'jaw' and would live on candy if I thought I could get away with it and not completely corrupt my children.

I've always been diligent about going to the dentist. As a child, I had a TON of work done in my mouth - oral surgery, teeth removed, braces, braces, braces, retainers, a bridge, crowns, etc. (thanks mom!) Because of all of that, it's normal for me to see my dentist twice per year. I'm pretty sure my parents could have bought a car with the amount of money they put into my mouth as a child. But since then, I've not had to spend much on my teeth. No cavities. No issues (I'm probably jinxing myself here) other than the fact that I clench/grind my teeth when I sleep (stress? What stress?). And, for that, I have a night guard that I should probably wear more than I do. My visits to the dentist are routine and boring - a wee bit of scraping, some polishing, measuring the 'pockets', a quick exam, and the obligatory, "More flossing please," from the dentist.


And then Pinterest came along and I discovered a recipe for making your own toothpaste, using coconut oil. I'd never given much thought to dental hygiene beyond the basics until I started teaching anatomy to a bunch of homeschooled high schoolers back in Hawaii. In our unit on the digestive system, I came across some research on remineralization, the design of teeth and our mouths and how they are designed to repair themselves (like every other part of the body when it encounters a minor injury), and how our modern dental hygiene practices actually undermine the natural processes with which we are endowed. Combine that with my Pinterest discovery and you had an experiment in the waiting.

So I ordered up some coconut oil (which has been shown to have anti-microbial properties) and some Xylitol (which has shown promise in helping to remineralize and strengthen enamel). I hit the local health food store for some essential oil (peppermint because that's what I'm used to), and grabbed the baking soda out of the pantry. The basic recipe is:

3 Tbsp coconut oil
3 Tbsp baking soda
1/2 tsp Xylitol
essential oil

Coconut oil is firm at temperatures under 74°F so you might need to warm it up before you blend everything together. This makes enough that I can store it in a 1/2 pint jar in my bathroom. I need to go grab a squeezy bottle (that's the technical term) and try putting it into that to make it easier to dispense. You can add more Xylitol and/or essential oil as your personal tastes dictate. My sweet tooth usually demands that I add more.

I made my first batch up right after my last dental appointment - an appointment where he admonished me to make sure I floss regularly and pay extra attention to my back molars because my 'pockets' were deeper back there. Okay - gotcha Doc. Will do.

The flavor can take some getting used to - it is salty. And be careful spitting coconut oil down your sink drain - it can build up over time and clog. I spit mine in the toilet and then rinse in the sink as usual. during the six months between dental visits I rarely used anything other than my homemade toothpaste. I was curious to see if there would be any noticeable difference.

On a personal note, during this six month period, I did notice that my front teeth - which have always been cold sensitive - were no longer painfully affected by cold foods. And the two baby teeth (yes, I am 40 years old and still have 2 baby teeth - molars) that are usually quite sensitive (they're baby teeth!) no longer made me aware of their presence. But the real test would be my next dental appointment.

And I passed that test! Both the hygienist and the dentist himself were floored that my oral health had shown 'such improvement'. They asked me if I had changed any of my oral hygiene habits. I said no because I've not really changed my 'habits'...just my toothpaste. And I didn't really want to get into a discussion with them because they already think I'm nuts for refusing the fluoride treatments each visit (for me and my children). But all of my 'pockets' had shrunken - whereas they used to be 2s and the occasional 3 in the back, they are now 1s with the occasional 2. Score one for the Crunchy Mama Movement!

I don't think I've really saved any money with this idea - I usually manage to score toothpaste for pretty cheap and both coconut oil and Xylitol aren't dirt cheap - but that's ok. I like the fact that I am allowing my body to heal itself, that I'm eliminating some more chemicals from my existence, and maybe saving myself a few bucks later on down the road. I think I'm going to pick up some cinnamon/clove oil for the next batch I make. What about you? Care to try it?


- hfs


Wendy Wainwright said...

I'll try it if you make it and send it to me. My once every five year dental appointment is about 2.25 years away still :)

Crista said...

That sounds interesting. I got a similar "such great improvement" after I spent $100 on a Sonicare toothbrush and started using a specific version of Listerine. My teeth literally were remineralizing and they were no longer concerned about two spots that they cautioned would be cavities within a year. That was 5+ years ago. I haven't had a cavity since I was a teen. I've had one filling rebuilt because the cavity under the filling grew (I'm guessing the original filling was substandard because that shouldn't happen). Eventually that tooth will require a crown and there's no way around it. But, I've been cavity free for over 20 years and kiddo is 16 and has never had a cavity.

Remember something we discussed on a post of yours a while back...it's not always about saving money. ;)

Homefront Six said...

Wen ~ I'll make a double batch next time and send you a jar.

Crista ~ my inlaws swear by their SonicCare brushes as well. My poor little bathroom counter doesn't have room, amongst MacGyver's assorted gadgets, for anything else at this point. I have crowns but they were needed for structural reasons. The Girl had one small cavity in a baby tooth but nothing more. The Boy has none thus far. They'll be making the switch to homemade toothpaste as soon as I get my hands on some squeezy bottles.

Leslie said...

I will have to try this - I use Xylitol toothpaste and it is expensive but I have seen great improvements since starting to use it.


Wrote this six years ago. Nothing's changed.  One of my favorite movies is 'Bull Durham'. And one of my favorite scenes in ...