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Sunday, June 21, 2020

My New Homemade Toothpaste

I haven't bought a tube of toothpaste in years.  Literally.  No joke.

For the past several years, I've made my very own toothpaste formulations.  I've used a number of different ingredients, and in different combinations.  First it was coconut oil and turmeric; then I mixed in some baking soda for extra cleaning power; then I tried just coconut oil and baking soda (which makes a whole lot less of a mess), and then I added things like peppermint oil for a "fresher" feel.

In the early part of this year I decided to try a certain three-ingredient mixture, one which I'm continuing to use to the present day.  This past Monday, as a matter of fact, I had one of my biannual dentist appointments, which consist of a professional cleaning and a dental check-up.  Both my dental hygienist and the dentist who oversees her work were very pleased with the condition of my teeth.  Honestly, I wasn't enormously surprised, as I've perceived my current three-ingredient tooth care formula (about which they are unbeknownst) to be all but faultless in its composition.

And as to the actual composition thereof?  I won't keep you in suspense any longer...the three ingredients are:

Baking soda
Xylitol (now available commonly and cheaply as a non-nutritive natural sweetener)
A few drops of clove oil

...and a little water, just to dissolve the xylitol (I don't really call the water one of the ingredients)

Each of the three ingredients has its own unique role to play, and they all combine in near-perfect synergy in support of dental health.  Baking soda really needs little introduction in the realm of teeth-cleaning; it offers maximum scrubbing of tooth enamel with minimal abrasion (although, I've found, if its presence is too pronounced, on its own, it can bother your gums quite a bit).  My dental hygienist uses a baking soda-water solution in a high-pressure spray to clean my teeth.

Xylitol is now a fairly common ingredient in manufactured toothpastes, especially the fluoride-free varieties as offered by such companies as Spry and Tom's of Maine.  A sugar alcohol, xylitol, which is derived from various plant sources, can't be used like sugar itself by bad cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth.  But xylitol's dental benefits don't just stop there.  Xylitol effectively keeps the mouth's pH at a neutral level -- and one which allows the saliva to transport calcium and phosphate to areas of the enamel where some rebuilding is seriously needed.  Yes, this does indeed mean that your tooth enamel can possibly be rebuilt, provided suitable conditions have been provided.

The third ingredient, clove oil, is a bit of a controversial one, because there are those who say it should only be used on the occasion of a toothache, for instance, to help with the pain.  However, I've studied clove oil's impressive dental benefits and have seen no valid reason why it should be quite so limited in its use therein.  If you happen to like the taste and aroma of cloves, as I definitely do, you'll find the pure oil of cloves delivers these sensations in a very pronounced manner.  But beyond the subjective experience, clove oil is as much of a dental stalwart as anything.  Dentists themselves are very familiar with one of its most active components, eugenol, which is highly effective at both subduing dental discomfort and also eliminating problem-causing mouth bacteria.  Clove oil can also help heal gum problems, so I'd say it has a lot of business being in the mouth (in small quantities, as it's pretty potent stuff).  I've long heard that the use of xylitol-bearing toothpastes can tend to make some peoples' teeth quite sensitive.  Since I've been using this exact mixture, however, I've not had really any tooth pain at all; as clove oil is highly effective against dental aches and pains, could it be that even the small amount I use in my formulation is counteracting any sensitivity which the xylitol might otherwise be causing?  Quite possibly, I think.  Also, my sometimes-too-brutal brushing had heretofore caused my gums to bleed fairly commonly.  As long as I've been using my current mixture, including the clove oil, I no longer see much blood in the sink at all.  I really do believe clove oil is beneficial for the gums, as has often been claimed.  And as far as a breath-freshening effect, I find clove oil easily outdistances peppermint oil by leaps and bounds (and lasts a whole lot longer).

I never go so far as to necessarily recommend anyone abandon their own methods of dental hygiene in favor of what I do, such as with this toothpaste mixture of mine.  However, I will say that, for those who may be so adventurous as to nonetheless experiment just a bit, I'd recommend the acquisition of a small glass jar with a lid as both the mixing and storage container all-in-one.  A baby food jar, with the corresponding lid, is about perfect.  I only ever mix small quantities at a time, always ready to replenish it with a fresh batch when it gets a bit low.  I don't recommend the use of a plastic container because clove oil is really very volatile and can actually dissolve certain types of plastics, if you can believe it.  I would likewise suggest something like the handle of a metal spoon for mixing up the composition.

If it were me, I'd start by filling the empty jar about a third of the way up with ordinary baking soda.  I would then drip about, say, 8 to 10 drops of clove oil upon the baking soda.  I would then pour in some xylitol crystals another third of the way up, leaving the remaining third of the jar for mixing room.  And here's where things get a little tricky.  You want to add very tiny trickles of water, mixing all the while, until the xylitol crystals just begin to dissolve, and everything becomes the consistency of a thick paste.  You don't want to add too much water too fast, because it will then be too thin of a mixture and less usable on a toothbrush than if it were more pasty.  The xylitol crystals usually dissolve very readily with just a little water, so be ready for this to begin happening rapidly.  The drops of clove oil you've added will naturally not dissolve in water, of course, but so long as you mix it all very thoroughly, the oil will be well-dispersed throughout the mixture.  I would keep it stored with the lid on at all times, and it should thereby remain in paste form and not change or harden.  You won't need to worry about bacteria growing in it from when you dip your toothbrush into it, because, again, bacteria can't use xylitol, and also because even the small amount of clove oil you've added will virtually annihilate anything like that from the start.  I like the tingling sort of sensation the use of the paste gives, reminding me much of a strong cinnamon-like effect.

I've yet to discern any real faultiness in my current mixture.  The only "upgrade" I might ever consider making would be the addition of pure powdered theobromine.  If you've never heard of theobromine, it's derived from cocoa, and it's often sold either as a non-addictive stimulant or for diet-enhancing purposes.  But where teeth are concerned, it's been discovered that theobromine can actually rebuild and remineralize teeth, as a number of published scientific papers have indicated.  It does this in a manner different than that of xylitol, as theobromine works more by reinforcing the crystalline structure of the enamel (there's even a company, Theodent, which makes a pretty costly toothpaste employing theobromine as the main active ingredient).  So, I may decide to implement some theobromine into my mixture in the future, but for the time being, I'll continue to use my present three-ingredient combination, morning and night.

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