The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
August 10, 2011

Natural Plastic-Free Toothpaste, Tooth Powder, Tooth Soap Ideas…

Tom's of MaineSince Tom’s of Maine switched from recyclable aluminum toothpaste tubes to plastic laminate a few months ago, I’ve been getting tons of emails asking what less plastic option to use instead. I looked at the change as a challenge to finally figure out a better toothpaste alternative. Aluminum was good (you could send the tubes back to the company to be recycled) but not perfect because of a) the plastic cap and threads, and b) the resin lining inside the tube which possibly contained BPA.

So, after much research and some harrowing moments, here are the Plastic-Free or Less Plastic tooth cleaner solutions I’ve discovered.  There are many, many more out there.  Your suggestions and input are welcome!

Make Your Own Tooth Powder

The Rucksack web site has a huge list of tooth powder vendors, as well as recipes for making your own tooth powder. Here are two ideas.

tooth powder indgredients 1) Baking Soda and Salt Tooth Powder. When I first started my plastic-free project, I tried making my own tooth powder with baking soda, salt, stevia for sweetness, and essential oils for flavoring. It was too abrasive for my teeth and gums.  I tried using the baking soda without the salt, but it was still too harsh, so I ended up switching back to toothpaste. However, some people do well with brushing with baking soda.  If it works for you, go for it.

tooth powder indgredients2) Calcium Carbonate Tooth Powder. Looking at my tube of Tom’s of Maine, I saw that the main ingredient after glycerin and water is calcium carbonate. Thinking that perhaps calcium carbonate is less abrasive than baking soda and salt, I looked into purchasing it in bulk and making tooth powder from that. But where do you buy food grade calcium carbonate? And where do you find it without plastic? All the online vendors I found sell the stuff either in a plastic bottle or a plastic bag.

Finally, I discovered a ceramics supply store in my area that sells calcium carbonate as “whiting” in a paper bag. I bought 5 pounds for 5 bucks and thought I was all set… until I saw the California Prop 65 Warning sticker, which says, “Do not take internally and do not allow contamination of food stuffs.”  I think — but I don’t know for sure — that the reason for the warning is that calcium carbonate powder can cause lung problems if you breathe it in.  But whether this stuff is okay to put in my mouth or not, I realized that it wasn’t manufactured for food use and who knows what it could be contaminated with?  If you’re going to make tooth powder with calcium carbonate, it’s probably best to buy the food grade version in the plastic bag (or try to find food grade calcium carbonate in bulk).  After all, the plastic around 5 pounds of calcium powder is less packaging than the comparable number of plastic tubes you’d need to contain the same amount of toothpaste.

A recipe on The Rucksack web site contains: 13 tablespoons of calcium carbonate, 4 tablespoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 25 drops peppermint oil, 12 drops cinnamon oil. If anyone tries this, please let us know how it works out!

Pre-made Tooth Powder

Aquarian Bath's Tooth Powder3) Aquarian Bath’s Tooth Powder.  Cory from Aquarian Bath makes two kinds of tooth powder: cinnamon stick or black licorice.  The powder comes in a metal tin, but Cory also sells refills which come in your choice of baggie: plastic or glassine paper.  (Ask for glassine, which is plastic-free.) She sent me a tin of the cinnamon stick tooth powder to try out.  The ingredients are: food grade Bentonite Clay, Organic Ceylon Cinnamon Powder, Activated Charcoal, 5x Myrhh powder, and organic stevia.

It took a little getting used to because the powder is black from the charcoal and a little messy, but it washes away cleanly and smoothly.  I liked it.  Cory told me that all her shipping materials are compostable or reused and that she is happy to honor requests for plastic-free packaging.  Check out the rest of her store.  It’s great!

4) Uncle Harry’s Tooth Powder. Uncle Harry’s tooth powder usually comes in a plastic container or a glass jar with a plastic lid. But several readers have told me that they will sell it to you in bulk by the 1/2lb or 1lb in a paper bag if you request it. The tooth powder is made from: Calcium carbonate (natural chalk), mustard seed powder, sea salt, peppermint, eucalyptus, clove, wintergreen, and oregano essential oils.

Have you found any other tooth powders that are sold without any plastic packaging? Please let us know.

Tooth Cleaning Tablets

Lush toothy tabs5) Lush Toothy Tabs are to me the most enjoyable way to brush my teeth. You crunch one tablet between your front teeth, wet your toothbrush, and brush away. There’s a Lush store in San Francisco, so I don’t have to mail order them. They taste good and clean well. So far, they don’t feel too abrasive even though baking soda is one of the ingredients.  And they come in a cardboard box instead of plastic.

But there are some drawbacks. There are only about 40 tablets per box, which means that the packaging to product ratio is through the roof. I would like to see Lush sell this product in larger quantities or even in bulk. It’s expensive: $3.95 for 0.3 oz — enough to last only 20 days if you brush twice a day. By comparison, a 4.7 oz tube of Tom’s of Maine costs around $5, depending where you get it, and can last many months if you use it sparingly. There are some questionable ingredients in the toothy tabs, like sodium saccharine, for example. And the package is not 100% plastic-free, as there are two tiny plastic stickers on the ends. Still, it works well, is actually fun to use, and Lush USA will be introducing many other flavors in the coming months, including Wasabi, which I am dying to try.

Tooth Soap

Blogger Fonda LaShay from Mint & Chilli has been urging me to try brushing my teeth with soap. And she posted a long treatise on her blog about why she doesn’t use toothpaste. There is the opinion that glycerin in toothpaste coats the teeth and doesn’t allow them to remineralize. I haven’t formed my own opinion on that point. But I do think brushing with soap could be a great idea to reduce the number of products we have to buy. How simple! So I tried it.

brush teeth with soap6) Natural vegetable soap without added glycerin. To brush your teeth with soap, it’s recommended to use a soap without added glycerin. Glycerin is a natural byproduct of soap-making, and unless the glycerin has been removed, most soap contains some. But you just want to make sure that glycerin is not an added ingredient listed on the label.  First, I chose a plain olive oil soap.  I brushed my wet toothbrush over the bar, started  brushing and…

Gagged.

Yes I did.  The soap taste was just too much to bear.  Now, some people don’t mind it.  And some people say you just have to get used to it.  So I tried again and again.  And finally threw up in the sink.  Enough!

I thought maybe I was using the wrong kind of soap.  So I bought a couple of bars of PlantLife soap, which looked like they were wrapped in plain paper (but which later turned out to be plastic!) and contained peppermint and anise oils.  First, I tried the peppermint.  It started okay.  I could taste the peppermint.  So far so good.  And then the soap flavor came through, and I…

Gagged.

Not good. Not using bar soap.  But seriously, you guys should try it.  Some people love brushing with soap.  But then again, some people love cilantro, another substance that makes me gag.

brush teeth with soap7) Rose of Sharon Acres tooth chips.  Tooth chips are tiny shreds of soap made especially for tooth brushing. They come in a metal tin without plastic. Wondering if I would have the same gag reflex with tooth chips as I did with bar soap, I asked my friend blogger Lisa Sharp to send me a tiny sample of hers to try. I didn’t want to buy a whole container if the stuff was just going to waste. A couple of hours ago, I decided to gather my courage to try them out. I put one between my teeth, bit down a little, and then started brushing with my wet toothbrush. At first, I tasted the sweet flavor. Okay, not so bad, until… that soap flavor and…

Gag!

And oh my god, I couldn’t get the taste out of my mouth. There was tooth soap stuck in my back tooth, and I couldn’t get it brushed out fast enough.

Look, I feel bad saying anything negative about this product. The ingredients are great: Saponified Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Sodium olivate), Saponified Coconut Oil (Sodium Cocoate), Saponified Organic Palm Oil (Sodium palmate), Xylitol, essential oils. I simply can’t put saponified anything into my mouth. And you know what else? I don’t have to eat cilantro either. Or broccoli!

Homemade Toothpaste

There are recipes out there for making your own toothpaste. Basically, they are like tooth powder, but you add coconut oil or glycerin (if you feel glycerin is okay for teeth) or both to make a paste. Here are a few I’ve found but haven’t tried yet.

8) Calcium Carbonate Powder, Baking Soda, Xylitol, Castile Soap (not for me!), Coconut Oil.

9) Coconut Oil, Baking Soda, Stevia, Peppermint Oil.

10) Coconut Oil, Baking Soda, Stevia, Peppermint Oil, Glycerin.

11) Baking soda, coconut oil, xylitol, peppermint oil.

12) Bentonite Clay, Xylitol, Water. Reader Kacie has been brushing with bentonite clay (which you might find in bulk at a health food store or Whole Foods) and says she thinks it might be remineralizing her teeth. You can also skip the water and use it as a powder.

It seems to me that with any of these recipes you could substitute whatever essential oil(s) you want. You could also add Neem oil or Neem powder. I found neem powder in bulk at my Whole Foods, but haven’t tried brushing with it yet. Use bentonite clay instead of calcium or baking soda. There are all kinds of options. Just be creative.

Brush without Toothpaste

Do we really need to use toothpaste or tooth powder at all?  Maybe not.  Reader E.K. Sommers wrote to me that there’s no need for toothpaste.  I keep hearing that the most important thing is the physical act of brushing and flossing.  If we brush with plain water or even a dry toothbrush and floss well, do we really need toothpaste at all?

Discuss.

Related Posts:

Eco-Friendly Toothbrush Review
Verdict on Neem Chew Stick Toothbrushes
Plastic-free Dental Floss? Not Quite.
Does Your New Eco-Dentist Offer Foot Massages?

 

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88 Comments on "Natural Plastic-Free Toothpaste, Tooth Powder, Tooth Soap Ideas…"


Guest
6 months 28 days ago

I’ve experimented a lot with making my own toothpaste- i noticed with coconut oil it’s just too unpredictable in temperature differences. It’s either too hot and liquid-y- all the ingredient float to the bottom, or too cold and have to scrape at it with the back of my toothbrush. I’ve finally gone with my own tooth powder that I’m just starting to sell, i can send you a free sample to try out (no plastic policy) with either a metal tin 125ml or glass mason jar. The sample would be in a small 5ml metal tin. let me know! glad to see your anti-plastic efforts. 

Aly Coy
Small Business Owner at Coy Pond Essentials
http://www.coypondessentials.com 

alycoy@coypondessentials.com

Guest

[…] For toothpaste, you can make a tooth powder using baking soda, salt and cinnamon (just Google for tooth powder recipes). However, I have heard this is bad for your gums as it’s very abrasive and I’ve stopped using it. This post on My Plastic-free life goes over a ton of homemade toothpastes and other alternatives. […]

Guest
younkm5
10 months 13 hours ago

Just the Goods vegan toothpaste 120g comes in a glass jar the anise, unflavored, and spearmint all rate a 0 on skin deep and every ingredient in them is a 0. there is also  A Soap for Goodness Sake Plain/spearmint Tooth Powder same scores but runs more expensive.

Guest
KarenScribner
1 year 5 days ago

Real cellophane made from cellulose or fake cellophane (crinkly, noisy plastic)?

Guest
KarenScribner
1 year 5 days ago

Do you get your teeth cleaned at the dentist? The baking soda stuff they shoot on at the end has aspartame in it. I could taste the sweetness in the residue around my mouth and immediately I started to get a migraine headache. Ask for plain baking soda.

Guest
KarenScribner
1 year 5 days ago

Pump bottles siting in the shower get water through the top into the pump and bottle so keep them out of the direct spray. Those screw-on tops that you press and the side of the top pops up to dispense the shampoo can be taken apart and scrubbed with an old toothbrush.

Guest
tinsel
1 year 3 months ago

@Beth Terry Oh dear, this is making me very discouraged! But I shall soldier on. Any little bit helps, I suppose.

Guest
tinsel
1 year 3 months ago

@yuki  
d
Does anyone remember back in the day the dentists used to put fluoride on kids’ teeth? It tasted icky, but I remember it….of course this was decades, eons, ago, and might have been when we were not in the US. It’s been so long I can’t even remember which of several countries it may have been. (Oh dearie me, I’ve gotten old all of a sudden!)

Guest
tinsel
1 year 3 months ago

@Eve Stavros Sounds like my own recipe of bentonite, baking soda, sage, myrrh EO, peppermint EO, xylitol, and activated charcoal. Sometimes I add organic cocnut oil, yummy! (I know, I’m a bit late to the party, but only came upon this site 2 days ago.) I’ve only been at it for awhile so don’t really have results yet, but teeth feel really clean, so….

Guest
LilLexis
1 year 5 months ago

This might be an odd question… But I’ve been through the process of getting porcelain dental veneers. OK, that may not have been green-friendly, but the damage is done, so to speak. I’m wondering if any of these plastic-free options at oral hygiene are safe to use with veneers. They are rather durable, but they can still be damaged, which would result in embarrassment. If anyone knows, I would appreciate it!

Guest
ParastooParsa
1 year 10 months ago

urbanwoodswalker 
I belive you need to see the reason for the big enamel loss first. Sometimes they are due to unknown reasons. But they could come from brushing too hard, stomach problems and acid reflux, drinking too much soda, misaligned teeth, grinding too hard and bruxism, genetic… have you been told what kind of abrassion you have? is it at the gum line or on the chewing surface?

Guest
MariaKunze
1 year 10 months ago

@EthelQ Bea at zero waste also has a silk shirt she unravels – then flosses with the silk thread.

Guest
GlasSage
2 years 3 months ago

salt is usually included because it inhibits/kills bacterial growth and infections.  over time, it strengthens your gums. i have discussed these things with many dentists over the years.  not one has contradicted me.  most dentists are much more open to alternatives in oral health, due to the mass influx of chemical sensitivities and allergies faced by their patients.  if you are truly concerned about abrasives, i would suggest skipping the whole toothpowder/paste issue and just use water.  plain coconut oil (virgin, organic) is also used to brush with by many, is highly beneficial to overall health, and i personally like the taste.

Guest
GlasSage
2 years 3 months ago

many dentists have told me over the years (i move a lot) that my teeth are very clean.  then i tell them i have never used toothpaste. (i am over 40- my mother is 70 and has never used toothpaste either…still has all her teeth. lol)  i have always used either baking soda (salt optional), plain water, or sometimes diatomateous earth. you would have some trouble damaging your tooth enamal, it is the hardest known biological substance.  the dentists themselves scrape at you with stainless steel and abrasives.  some folks are born with thin enamel.  google what you need in your diet to remedy this. mouthwash….salt water would be good for your gums and clear up infections, etc.  bad breath comes from your stomach or advanced tooth decay/gum disease, not your mouth per se.  tongue scrapers are also highly beneficial. many asian cultures consider tongue scraping more important to oral health than brushing.  food for thought there. (i also scrape, so covering my bases.  :o)

Guest
yvonne123
2 years 4 months ago

what about a good alternative to mouth wash?

Guest
BethTerry
2 years 4 months ago

@yvonne123  Here’s a mouthwash I made:  http://myplasticfreelife.com/2007/11/vodka-variations/  And here is one I haven’t tried but sounds great; however, it can be hard to find vegetable glycerin in glass.  But where I live, there is an herb shop that only uses glass bottles.  Here’s the recipe:  http://www.crunchybetty.com/shut-your-mouth-homemade-mouthwash

Guest
urbanwoodswalker
2 years 6 months ago

I am wondering if you have consulted any licensed dentists on all this. All I know is that my dentist told me I have literally scrubbed off the enamel on my teeth over the years. I grew up on brushing with bicarbonate.  Just bicarbonate. Why is salt added to these recipes? Just curious on that one. 
Any green eco dentists out there?  I just wonder about all thiese various ingredients…as I have loss a lot of enamel. I would like to have them weigh in on the abrasives in these recipes.

Guest

[…] aluminum tubes to plastic. It is really hard to find toothpaste packaged without plastic. Beth at My Plastic-free Life has done a pretty good job, but for me it is cheaper and easier to just make it myself.  Also, […]

Guest
2 years 8 months ago

Do you know why “To brush your teeth with soap, it’s recommended to use a soap without added glycerin” ?

Guest
BethTerry
2 years 8 months ago

@EcoPeaceful Here is what one reader wrote about why she brushes with soap and why she thinks glycerin is bad for teeth:  http://fondalashay.com/mintchilli/why-i-dont-use-toothpaste

Guest
2 years 8 months ago

@BethTerry Thank you.

Guest

[…] from aluminum to plastic casing. I went searching for solutions, and found a great blog post at My Plastic Free Life presenting an array of options. So, when I run out of toothpaste in my current tube, I think I’ll try making my own […]

Guest
jenlizakowski
2 years 9 months ago

Your site has some really helpful information. We invite you to read our articles about oral health topics  and comment on our blog at http://www.dentalinsurance.org/blog/index.php/2012/10/natural-toothpaste-another-approach-to-oral-hygiene/.

Guest
Ashley Myers
2 years 11 months ago

I use the Brushing Blend from OraWellness. I really like it.

Guest

[…] after I work my way through my list of drafts).  If that doesn’t appeal to you, there are some other alternatives (as well as DIY ideas offered in this post by plastic-free blogger, Beth Terry (featured in the above video). Dental floss is still […]

Guest
2 years 11 months ago

I’ve been using homemade toothpaste with baking soda, peppermint oil and coconut oil. I hear the coconut oil makes it less abrasive on the enamel, and I haven’t had ANY sensitivity in the month I’ve been using it. Also, I was about to cut the end of my old toothpaste tube and refill it with my own paste, but then I remembered something I heard about acids and fat/oils making chemicals more prone to leach out and be ingested. So it’s in a small jelly jar. 

Guest
Nichalus
3 years 6 months ago

Teeth remineralize from the inside out through proper diet. Look up Ramiel Nagel’s book, “How to CURE Tooth Decay”. Many tooth powders on the internet. If you get a tooth soap make sure it is super-fatted and the mildest possible for sensitive mucous membranes.

Guest
Rose-Marie
3 years 8 months ago

I saw no mention of Victoria’s Tooth Soap. I hav e heard great things about it, although I have never used it – for all I know it could be packaged in plastic. But there are tooth soap recipes on the ‘net as well. Me, I can use Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap. Yes it is dispensed in plastic containers, but when I think of how long it will take to use up the contents of the container, the amount of plastic per unit of time ratio is very low.

Guest
Eve Stavros
3 years 8 months ago

It’s official! My dentist says that I’ve got less staining, my gums look healthy, and I noticed less sensitivity to the water “drill” at yesterday’s cleaning. This after six months of:

1 – mornings – a mix of equal parts of baking soda, salt, bentonite clay, and powdered sage, with a few drops of peppermint essential oil for flavor. (These provide the abrasiveness necessary, according to my hygenist, that simple brushing w/water doesn’t give us)
2. dry brushing after lunch/snacks (well, when I remember)
3. evenings – Dr. Bronner’s peppermint castille soap

And, I refused (politely) the goody bag of brush, floss & mini-toothpaste. Yay! Plastic free smiles!!!

Guest
3 years 9 months ago

Hi, long time listener, first time caller. I love your blog and am especially sympathetic to your search for plastic free tooth care. I use a mix of soap and homemade baking soda based tooth powder, but I run into trouble when trying to find something to floss with. I saw that the family of the zero waste home blog uses rubber tipped gum simulators rather than floss (http://zerowastehome.blogspot.com/2010/01/zero-waste-bathroom.html). I don’t know if this would work as well as floss or not, but I have a dentist appointment coming up soon and I intend to ask about it. I’ll let you know what I find out.

Guest
3 years 9 months ago

I think it is great that you were curious about something and then experimented to get your answer. I wouldn’t of been as brave as you. It is a wonderful concept of using something other than toothpaste to brush your teeth and you really enlightened me on the possibilities. Thank you so much and what a wonderful blog.

Guest
Alicia
3 years 10 months ago

Interestingly enough, my Dentist’s office has a children’s book that instructs to brush first without toothpaste since it dulls your tongue to the feel of your teeth (or something like that) then says to proceed with toothpaste. I’m thinking that toothpaste etc. may be a vehicle to get us to brush. Flossing and brushing may be enough. But I do prefer to use something. I like plain baking soda sometimes, but I may try some of these other suggestions. Thanks.

Guest

[…] Inspiring post: In an effort to reduce her consumption of store-bought plastic-packaged goods, Beth found alternative ways to clean her teeth. This post includes store-bought, plastic-free products and homemade solutions to keep them teeths pearly white. Read more about all natural toothpaste alternatives. […]

Guest
3 years 10 months ago

a dentist told a friend that her allergic-to-toothpaste daughter could get her teeth just as clean without toothpaste. but that she must be sure to brush LONGER.

Guest
3 years 10 months ago

Late to the game here, but I’ve just tried the Lush toothy tabs, and you definitely don’t need a whole one per brush. Half is more than enough . . . I’ve actually moved to using about 1/4 tab per brush, which makes it less expensive and packaging intensive per use.

Guest
Jay
3 years 11 months ago

As I said, each to their own. The internet is a wonderful thing.

Guest
yuki
3 years 11 months ago

@ Jay

“Most of us drink fluoridated water, and for a reason. Our dental health as a society is stunningly better than pre-fluoride. It was a public health decision. I know some communities are reconsidering, and dosing levels are debated, but until dental care is universal, some treatment would still seem to be a good idea.

Not really! if it’s what you think you should inform yourself better:

http://www.drmomma.org/2010/06/ten-fluoride-facts.html

Here is a excerpt:

“No difference exists in tooth decay between fluoridated & unfluoridated countries. While water fluoridation is often credited with causing the reduction in tooth decay that has occurred in the US over the past 50 years, the same reductions in tooth decay have occurred in all western countries, most of which have never added fluoride to their water”

and that is also true for low-income families.

“AS Beth said, even water can kill you if ingested inappropriately”

Yes, but the difference is that we NEED water. Nobody need fluoride.

Guest
Eve Stavros
3 years 11 months ago

First I tried 50/50 baking soda & salt, but it was too hard on my gums – at least they felt tender to me. So I tried a mix of equal parts baking soda, salt, bentonite clay and powdered sage and I LOVE how it works and doesn’t seem to have the same effect. We’ll see what my dentist says on my next visit. For even better consistency & blending I whirred them all together in my spice grinder (hint – do NOT remove the lid too soon – let the powders settle down – achoo!).

Guest
3 years 11 months ago

we as consumers have been brainwashed into thinking that we need a lot of froth and foam to have a “clean” home, body and yes teeth :)

Guest
Abigail
3 years 11 months ago

Thought you might be interested in this:

It’s an umbrella. 70% of the frame is recycled and 100% of the canopy is recycled. Plus, it comes with a lifetime warranty.

Guest
3 years 11 months ago

Great post Beth-thank you! I focus most of my efforts on flossing and then brushing -toothpaste doesn’t seem to make much of a difference aside from fresh breath. Finding floss that is Teflon free is challenging-but they’re out there. We use a reverse osmosis water filter and it removes the fluoride. I’ve never supplemented with fluoride and my kids don’t have any cavities. I’m still using Toms and plan to shift to one of your other suggestions once we run out. Great toothpaste discussion!

Guest
3 years 11 months ago

Julie,

I am so glad to hear it worked for you! Yay!

Guest
Guest
Julie
3 years 11 months ago

Thanks so much for this post! I’ve been thinking about ditching the toothpaste, wanting to do something greener and healthier. I actually skip it about half the time, but sometimes need it to help my teeth feel clean.

So while I was at the store yesterday, I bought a bar of 100% olive oil soap. I’ve brushed with it a few times. I can barely taste it at all, and it doesn’t taste bad, just weird. And like Fonda mentioned in her blog post, my teeth feel all slippery and clean, even though I’ve been eating popcorn and ice cream since I last brushed. I love how the crud doesn’t stick!

I don’t blame you for skipping anything that makes you gag, but for those who haven’t tried it, you might be pleasantly surprised!

Guest
Liz McCollum
3 years 11 months ago

I’ve stopped using toothpaste except for about once a week. At least once a day I brush with water and massage my gums with my brush. I should floss, but…I’m lazy! From what I have read, people tend to brush at least as well without toothpaste, if not better because they are being more conscious of what they are doing. After reading this, I’m going to try making my own paste with coconut oil and baking soda, it sounds interesting!

Guest
yuki
3 years 11 months ago

Thanks for the cleaning tips!

For “my” store, I fear it’s a very local one and you will not find it where you live.

Their web site is in French only but you can always look at the pictures, you will see the barrels!

http://www.produits-lemieux.com/index.php

Guest
yuki
3 years 11 months ago

Sorry for being off-topic but I find it really sad Beth how your “bulk” store isn’t a real bulk store.

Where I live the liquid soap is stored in huge barrels. I don’t know the actual capacity but I would guess about 40 gallons? Anyway, those are in permanence in the store and are being refilled with stuff that comes from the head office where the stuff is actually made. Maybe because it’s all the same company it makes sense for them not to throw plastic AND money in the landfill?

I bought a one gallon and a 250 ml the first time I visited and I go to the store only once every 6 month to refill my gallon. I have a problem though, my 250 ml bottle that I’ve using for years now because I don’t want to buy new plastic is starting to grow mold because I let it sit in the shower 24/24. Have you a solution to that? I guess even non-plastic solution can grew mold. I’ve tried to just wash it away but I can’t because it’s inside the nozzle.

By the way I know that an easy and greener solution is a solid bar soap but I don’t have access to that where I live (granted, I’m really picky with my soap) and I don’t want to buy that online.

Thanks and sorry for being off-topic!

Guest
Ms. Adventuress
3 years 11 months ago

Ironically, I recently ordered a bulk supply of Uncle Harry’s. After that, I’ll be trying something else, just to see. I was sad to see Tom’s plastic tubing, as well. Gah. That said, I wasn’t thrilled about aluminum, due to its toxic polluting nature from manufacturing. Not sure why it took me SO LONG (until plastic was introduced!) to stop using Tom’s.

Guest
Jay
3 years 11 months ago

You’re not supposed to SWALLOW fluoride as used in dental treatments or in your toothpaste, which is why many dentists don’t recommend fluoridated toothpastes or fluoride treatments for babies, etc. Toothpastes should also be kept away from little kids and pets.

Most of us drink fluoridated water, and for a reason. Our dental health as a society is stunningly better than pre-fluoride. It was a public health decision. I know some communities are reconsidering, and dosing levels are debated, but until dental care is universal, some treatment would still seem to be a good idea. AS Beth said, even water can kill you if ingested inappropriately.

Each to their own, though. BTW, our kids (lotsa water, spotty toothpaste use, 6 mos cleaning & fluoride txs), now adults = NO cavities.

Guest
3 years 11 months ago

My dentist is very conservative and still recommends fluoride for my kids! So, I smile and send them home to brush with Weleda calendula toothpaste instead. I swear by Weleda salt toothpaste-I love the clean, fresh feeling although it did take a bit of getting used to-it doesn’t foam and I swear it makes my teeth whiter. Looking at the ingredients, it is just a bicarb toothpaste. It comes from Germany so not too much of a problem as I live in Portugal. Aluminium tube which goes in the recycle bin, plastic lid, cardboard box. I just couldn’t brush my teeth with tooth powder, so if I made my own toothpaste it would be a coconut oil variety. Liquid stevia (powder not available) is very expensive here and affordable coconut oil is imported from India. So it’s Weleda for us for now. If I made our toothpaste my kids would never brush their teeth! It took a month of coaxing to get my four year old to switch to the pleasant liquorice/fennel taste of Weleda calendula toothpaste. My gran used to pack bit of bicarb for her kids when they went on holiday for their teeth-it was part of the holiday fun my mom tells me-funny tooth powder. My dentist thinks we are a bit nuts to brush with Weleda-he says it is a good choice for teeth but what about the fluoride….AAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGhhh.

Guest
3 years 11 months ago

Yes. Gotcha. We were saying the same thing differently.

At some places, I have seen them where they are dispensed from something similar to a beer tap, but not sure what was going on behind the scenes. Likely more plastic.

Guest
3 years 11 months ago

So they don’t have a pump that you can refill your own jar from? Or are you saying that the pump that you refill from is plastic and since that plastic isn’t being reused that you won’t use it.

This is sooo confusing to explain in a sentence….

Guest
HSB
3 years 11 months ago

I always felt very sick after a visit to the dentist , This made me look into fluoride and what it really is, http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/how-safe-is-fluoride/

I do not get a fluoride treatment at the dentist any more , the last time I had my teeth cleaned I asked what the paste was, she said toothpaste and baking-soda.

Do some googling on fluoride and inform yourself.
Backing-soda and water does the job for me.

Guest
Talina
3 years 11 months ago

I brush with water and follow with a rinse of peroxide. You could do a baking soda peroxide mix maybe… I tried brushing with peroxide and my gums were too sensitive like yours but the peroxide rinse works well I think.

Guest
yuki
3 years 11 months ago

After stopping using shampoo and conditioner I’m glad to read your post because now I’m really thinking about stopping the toothpaste. I have no issue with fluoride because I use fluoride-free toothpaste for over 2 years and I actually get better teeth ha! My problem is taste, and I don’t talk about your homemade recipe or other strange black powder, I have issues with the taste of ANY toothpaste! I will be very glad if I can do without it!

Thanks a lot!

Guest
3 years 11 months ago

I am hesitant to try any non-fluoride toothpaste, because after a year of brushing nearly exclusively with baking soda, flossing regularly, etc, I had shiny white teeth and FOUR CAVITIES. I have a fabulous, clean, healthy diet, so I don’t think that was the problem. I was told by my dental hygienist that it has a lot to do with oral pH, which is greatly dependent upon genetics and the water you consume. She said that those who are prone to tartar — which baking soda does a great job of removing — tend to get no cavities but brittle teeth. I, apparently, am not the tartar type.

That said, I am still intrigued by the different options and recipes here.

Also, Burt’s Bees makes toothpaste in an aluminum tube. It does have a (fairly large) plastic lid, though.

Guest
autumn
3 years 11 months ago

beth, i so was hoping the berkeley bowl was refilling those gallon jugs that i fill my dr bronners from. and how can i be so oblivious about all bulk bins in all stores being filled from plastic bags…i’ve seen them do it a million times and totally went into vision denial. damnit everything is in plastic. yesterday at the bank i saw a clerk get a stack of paper pads and each one was wrapped in cellophane. : (

yep, we just draw the line whenever we can.

Guest
3 years 11 months ago

Beth – Is there anywhere close to you that you could buy the liquid soap in bulk? I can get it from my local co-op and bring a mason jar to refill.

Guest
Erika
3 years 11 months ago

(For people concerned about fluoride, you actually get very little of it from toothpaste. You can compensate for the lack of toothpaste by asking your dentist to give you a professional fluoride treatment whenever you go in for a cleaning. Most dental insurance won’t cover it, but it’s usually only about $30 a treatment.)

Guest
Erika
3 years 11 months ago

My dentist has also told me that you don’t really need to use toothpaste. I mean, it’s helpful? But not mandatory. It’s the action of brushing that does most of the work.

Guest
Sabrina B
3 years 11 months ago

Hey Beth,

I am on my last tube of Tom’s Of Maine and this post inspired me to make up some of my own toothpaste. Taste is a huge factor for me, so I was hoping these solutions would taste ok. Solution number 1 was super scratchy and the saltiness made me gag. Then, I tried solution 2 since I have calcium carbonate tablets (in a plastic container) which I bought previously from the drug store. The paste was very “sandy” and again the salt made me salivate and gag. I think the calcium carbonate and baking soda ratios need to be adjusted. And I will leave out the salt because it’s really gross for me. I will post an update when I’ve found a good mix!

Thanks for this post!

Guest
monkeyjen
3 years 11 months ago

Beth – DO NOT use plain cotton thread as floss. I have done this a bunch of times in the past when floss was not available… most of the time, with no ill effect. I guess the last time I did this – perhaps 2 yrs ago, with a lovely navy thread – a piece of the thread became lodged very deeply in my gums/teeth, UNBEKNOWNST to me. Fast forward, I was getting dental work done, had a filling in a very strange place in between 2 upper/side teeth. A couple of days later, the thread, now almost unrecognizable, became dislodged. Yes – even after dental work, professional teeth cleaning, and regular oral hygiene, this thread was still stuck in the Narnia of my mouth for probably a year and had definitely caused a weird cavity. I had not felt the thread at all. So, it may be kind of a gross story, but SRSLY – do not use ANY regular thread for floss. I will never do that again.

Guest
3 years 11 months ago

OH… and one more thought. Doesn’t green tea contain a lot of natural fluoride? Can’t remember where I got that one… but I think it was an actual informational source as opposed to late night channel surfing.

Guest
3 years 11 months ago

Oh, and while I’m thinking of it. I heard somewhere that oil of wintergreen can kill you. Actually, I think it was an episode of Cold Case, where the evil drama/voice coach offs her student with a vile of oil of wintergreen. I’m not actually advising taking medical advice from bad crime drama shows, but it did give me pause…

Guest
3 years 11 months ago

Awesome. I’ve been looking for info on this lately. Great one stop spot. Now off to make my own tooth powder…

Guest
Anali
3 years 11 months ago

For anyone who is thinking of going pasteless, may I suggest oil pulling. I do this daily(When I remember) I try to do it every morning. It’s great for your teeth, It’s not completely plastic free, but it really is the best thing I do for my teeth.

I do still use toothsoap, but not as often. :)

Guest
Jay
3 years 11 months ago

There’s also at least two “new” [to me] shower flosser/dental irrigators that you attach to your shower head. The concept is interesting, sure fits the bill for multitasking, and potentially eliminates toothpaste AND floss. :-))
Unfortunately there is plastic, so, sadly, probably not be an option.

Guest
shannon
3 years 11 months ago

I use Dr. Bronner’s liquid baby soap. Yes, it’s in a plastic bottle, and when it runs out, I’ll just buy a bar. It doesn’t taste bad at all. Maybe you have to get used to it. I just put a drop on my toothbrush.

Guest
3 years 11 months ago

I bought Tom’s because I thought it came in the returrnable aluminium, and was really disappointed when it didn’t. We’re moving home to South Africa, where tubes come in aluminium but the recycling system is not well developed so I doubt I could recycle the tube or cap.

But I’ve been hearing dentists suggesting recently that toothpaste is NOT necessary, particularly if you’re drinking a lot of fluoridated water. I’ve also been taught that flossing is actually more important than brushing (if I were to pick one, which I probably shouldn’t). But all to say, brushing with water may well be fine for your teeth, if you floss and drink a lot of water.

Guest
3 years 11 months ago

Hawaiians had beautiful teeth. They used edible hibiscus sticks; and other indigenous cultures also used different sticks and bark. Seems to me it would be easier to carry around a stick than a toothbrush. One could add a pencil clip to it and put it in a shirt pocket :)

Remineralization is the key and where we need to have more discussion. Weston Price has a book on that recommends meat/fat. I wonder how the teeth of vegetarians are? I know I have a remineralization issue, where my ex didn’t. I had more cavities despite more brushing.

Guest
Carol
3 years 11 months ago

I send my plastic toothpaste tubes (along with chips packets and ring pulls from drinks cans) to the Philippine Community Fund (http://p-c-f.org/index.php). The women their project supports make them into all kinds of products which they sell and can then send their children to school. The fund has recently built a school so the kids no longer scrounge from the rubbish tip. Although their website says they no longer accept toothpaste tubes they do if you can put up the cost of shipping. I collect from my church and the £25 it costs me to ship a 2-3 cubic foot box to the Philippines is part of my contribution to their work.

Guest
3 years 11 months ago

OMG… I gotta say… this whole post pretty much makes me want to puke. First of all, I just have to ask… why oh why oh why do they insist upon making such vile flavors for teeth cleaning products. Licorice has got to be the most disgusting thing on the planet, well, next to wasabi… and now I find out there are people making wasabi tooth products too?!? Do these people have no taste buds? And stevia… oh… major yuck… talk about puke flavored aftertaste. And bentonite clay? That sounds a bit like brushing with kitty litter to me. Charcoal?!? OK… sorry, but I can’t get past the black part.

OK, sorry for the rant. I have no great solutions to offer. I have very few choices when it comes to teeth cleaning because I am violently allergic to many of the common ingredients in toothpaste and tooth powders (especially anise or anise flavoring).

But… when I had hives every day for a year, I had to systematically remove EVERYTHING that I might inadvertently be ingesting, so that meant no toothpaste. I just brushed with water for a few months and my mouth felt just as clean as it did with toothpaste. Don’t know how that works out long term though.

Guest
3 years 11 months ago

Jay-

As for the dentist. I have not been either, but my sister started with me on the tooth soap in the beginning of the year. She is a teenager and around this past Christmas developed a cavity in her tooth. She went to the dentist and they said she would need to have it filled. Due to finances and the dentist schedule, she had to wait a few months.

So in June she went back to the dentist, there has been much talk about if this ‘soap and re-enameling healing’ stuff worked in our family, we have had our fingers crossed hoping it was so, so she could save her ‘adult’ tooth in whole. So my dad decided to no tell the dentist their new practice till the end, he wanted a non-bias appointment. So here is the good news – the dentist actually refused to fill her tooth, saying that it was healing and doing great. He said she had great levels of phosphorus (I think it was this?) and calcium in her saliva and her teeth were looking great and to keep doing what she was doing. At this point, my dad and sister did tell the dentist what they were doing.. and of course he had to get all doctor on them saying that it was not good to do,and they should basically use chemicals – haha, I had to laugh when my dad told me this since the dentist had just told them whatever they were doing was working great!

So I think that if you are taking a non-conventional approach that the dentist will be bias, since most of them are reviving money from toothpaste companies and they feel they need to stand with what the ADA recommends.

Guest
Margaret
3 years 11 months ago

Sarah – I saw a silk floss the other day at Whole Foods.

Thanks Beth! I tried using soap about a month ago (Kiss My Face’s pure olive oil soap), and gagged a little, but not too much, so I might give it another shot. I just had a filling (only the second in my whole life!), so I’m hesitant to not use fluoride. I have no idea if my city uses fluoride (I’ve been meaning to look at their latest report anyways for a water-related post), so if they do, maybe I’d be comfortable sans toothpaste.

Guest
sunnysandiegan
3 years 11 months ago

When I do oil-pulling (most mornings), I follow it with gargling with warm salt water, brushing with 1 drop of peppermint castile liquid soap (purchased in bulk at Dr. Bronners), and flossing via our oral irrigator in the shower.

I tried brushing my teeth in the evenings with just the peppermint castile liquid soap. At the time, I was using 2 drops after oil-pulling and knew to cut it down, so I used a scant drop. ICKY!!!!!!

What I learned from the experience is to try only one drop after oil-pulling to see if it would still do the job and reduce usage amounts (not that 2 drops is a lot, but still waste is waste). One drop is sufficient for me.

I made my own toothpaste this week (sample test amount) and it has passed muster with my family. Here’s a copy and paste from my facebook page:

I scraped the inside of an aloe “leaf” (tentacle…LOL) with a 1/2 teaspoon and it took two times. Used the same amount of coconut oil and half that amount of arrowroot powder and a smidgen of lecithin powder. Stir. I added 4 drops of peppermint essential oil. Stir. Brush front teeth as test for flavor. Awesome! Clean, smooth, minty fresh!

It LOOKS just like regular toothpaste! It tastes like peppermint and a tiny bit like coconut. It feels a little odd while you are brushing, but once you rinse…WOW! Very clean and minty fresh!

I purchased the arrowroot powder and lecithin powder in bulk locally. I used Nutiva VCO, which was purchased in bulk from amazon, but we also have a glass jar of Spectrum VCO from a local health food store (crazy price difference).

I used little 2 ounce stainless steel condiment cups (one for each bathroom) for the trial run and the first night it was a little on the thin side. By morning, it had firmed/gelled to the perfect consistency. By the next morning, though, it was a little off consistency-wise. I didn’t cover the containers and left them out on the counter on purpose so everyone would remember to use the homemade toothpaste. I need to find a better packaging plan….

Guest
Sarah
3 years 11 months ago

I’m going to have to look into the whole glycerin and tooth enamel thing. A basic search really didn’t answer much. Any time I see a claim like that, I like to do some research into the scientific claims. Google scholar had nothing except patents.

Funny thing is I just learned about saponification in my organic chemistry class. Fight Club was right, you can make soap from any type of fat.

I’ have Dove soap right now and surprisingly enough, it doesn’t have any glycerin in it. I know I have a bar of aromatherapy all natural soap somewhere, I’ll have to check it’s ingredients.

Beth, do you have a plastic free alternative to floss?

Guest
3 years 11 months ago

I agree that the act of brushing is the biggest thing. I’ve heard that drinking water is the next most important thing!

I make toothpaste and powder and package in a glass jar and refill etc, but I describe my toothpaste as “hardcore”. I use dead sea salts. It tastes weird until you rinse and then you are all clean! Yum.

Beth, you are right about the calcium carbonate – you don’t know what it might be contaminated with and it wasn’t packaged by food handlers for consumption. But I suggest talking to the people who package it. It may simply be transferred from a 100lb paper sack of calcium carbonate USP#1 to smaller paper sacks. Or it may be mined crushed and sifted, but not tested for purity, in which case it could contain bad stuff. I have encountered both scenarios when I have looked into my supplies.

In the meantime, bentonite clay is sold all sorts of places for consumption, but only sometimes in glass.

As an aromatherapist, I disagree with using cinnamon essential oils because it’s a skin and mucous membrane irritant. Try 3 parts lemon to 1 part peppermint.

Thanks Beth, for a thorough go at the alternatives. I am thinking, inspired by you, of expanding my ingredients list for my next DIY dental care lab.

Guest
Jay
3 years 11 months ago

Impressive sampling! Curious if your dentist had any thoughts, especially whether you really NEED toothpaste at all. Ours says no, but only because we get regular fluoride treatments.
BTW, there’s a LUSH on Bay Street in Emeryville (or so the store locator says).

Guest
Kristie
3 years 11 months ago

I use Rose of Sharon Acres tooth chips. Took me about a week to get used to the taste, but I LOVE the way they clean! Sooooooooo good feeling, so much better than toothpaste! :D