Whatever You Do… Don’t Swallow!

My thoughts on fluoride in general are pretty well-known, so it’s probably no surprise to anyone that I make my own toothpaste. It’s simple, cheap, and effective, and I don’t have to worry about fluoride or other hidden junk in the store brands.

Everyone knows that the toothpaste tube says to supervise children while brushing and that to seek medical assistance if it is swallowed. Yet, we don’t let this concern us, and we don’t wonder why? When it comes to my daughter, now I wonder about EVERYTHING, so I had no choice but to look into it!

According to Cancer.org, “The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that parents give children under the age of 6 only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for brushing, and should do their best to make sure their children are not swallowing, as this can be a significant source of fluoride.”

Now, really, how much fluoride can there possibly be?

Toothbrush Close Up

I checked out one of the leading brands, and according to their website: “While Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste contains 0.454% stannous fluoride, it’s formulated to deliver the same concentration of fluoride ions (1100 ppm F-) as the 0.243% sodium fluoride in other Crest products.”

I took this to mean that the industry standard is roughly 1100 ppm of fluoride (at least for Crest – although I’m sure the other brands are pretty similar).

What does PPM mean? PPM = “parts per million”. To put that into perspective, using a conversion calculator, I found that 1 ppm is roughly equal to .99 mg/L; literally, they are almost interchangeable. Therefore, 1100 ppm is equal to 1098.7 mg/L.

Now, just to reiterate what we use as a “safe amount” in our water…

“Starting in 1962, the United States Public Health Service (PHS) recommended that public water supplies contain between 0.7 and 1.2 milligrams of fluoride per liter (mg/L) of drinking water. However, the most recent standards are quite higher. The EPA states “this level of protection based on the best available science to prevent potential health problems. EPA has set an enforceable regulation for fluoride, called a maximum contaminant level (MCL), at 4.0 mg/L or 4.0 ppm.”

Water : 4.0 ppm fluoride
Toothpaste : 1100 ppm fluoride

Does that not freak you out at all?

Seriously – don’t swallow that toothpaste!

Even though we aren’t swallowing the tube, we are still absorbing enough fluoride through our gums. Have you ever taken a “sublingual” vitamin by placing it under your tongue? The reason is that it absorbs much faster through the linings of your mouth. A sound byte from HealthLine.com : “Your healthcare provider usually orders sublingual or buccal medications when there is a need for the medication to be absorbed rapidly … The cheek and the area under the tongue have a lot of capillaries, or tiny blood vessels. This means that the medication can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream.” And according to Cancer.gov, “In users of smokeless tobacco, nicotine is absorbed through the mouth tissues directly into the blood, where it goes to the brain.”

Mouth -> Bloodstream -> Brain

And fluoride is a known neurotoxin – meaning “poison for the brain”.

Seriously. Am I the only one who doesn’t think this is cool?!

A couple weeks ago, we ran out of our toothpaste. I was being kinda lazy and kept forgetting to make more, despite my husband’s persistence (who would have thought he’d be as into this natural stuff as I am?!). We had an old tube of Crest in the cupboard, so I thought, “May as well finish this first”, thus extending my procrastination.

Right away, I started noticing that my gums were feeling really sore and tender. Upon examination, I found that I had red, rough patches along my gum line – almost like they had been rubbed raw. It started in the back, but slowly more “spots” popped up along the front and top. I started freaking out, praying that I didn’t have some sort of gum disease. It hurt to brush my teeth, mouthwash, even eat sometimes.

After about a week (I’m pretty dense sometimes), my husband came across this article about how Crest was found to put little plastic balls in their toothpaste – not to help clean the teeth, but purely to make their toothpaste “look more pleasing to consumers”. (Seriously?!) While I hadn’t found any little blue balls stuck in my gums, it couldn’t be a coincidence. I immediately made another batch of our tried-and-true homemade toothpaste, and now a week later, all my sores are gone and my mouth feels better than ever.

I thought I would share my recipe here, although it’s really not “mine”. I can’t remember where I found it, otherwise I would give credit. Honestly, a quick Google search pops up so many recipes – it’s kind of like looking for a recipe for acorn squash (if anyone has a recipe that utilizes anything other than butter and brown sugar… let me know!!). So, I’m not being original by any means. In fact, my recipe is very basic – I’ve found others that are more intricate, and that can even boast remineralizing effects for people with cavities.

Homemade Toothpaste

1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup baking soda
Thieves essential oil, to taste

Toothpaste Ingredients

Depending on the temperature of your house, coconut oil can vary from a hard solid to a goopy liquid. Unrefined, it has a melting point of around 72*F. The first time I made this toothpaste, my oil was very hard, so I melted it in a saucepan before mixing with the baking soda; however, I didn’t like the consistency. This last time, my oil was just a little melty, but still somewhat solid, so I measured out my oil and dumped it in my jar, added the baking soda, and then whipped it together with a knife. It came out really smooth, almost like frosting!

If your coconut oil is really hard, I would suggest maybe adding it to your jar and then setting the jar in a saucepan with water, heated on low, until it starts to melt but isn’t completely liquid.

I also add some drops of Thieves essential oil – I never measure it out. I figure I use maybe 10-15 drops – just enough that I can smell it. I don’t worry so much about this step because I also use Thieves mouthwash – I just like the little bit of flavor and antibacterial benefits. I’ve had friends who have used peppermint essential oil instead (for flavor and halitosis).

Now, why these ingredients?

Coconut oil is a great all-over healthy oil, for both internal and external use. I found an article specifically written for dentists on the practice of oil pulling, in which they acknowledged the benefits of coconut oil. Jessica T. Emery, DMD wrote that “coconut oil is preferred because 50% of the fat in coconut oil is comprised of the bacteria whooping ingredient lauric acid. Lauric acid is very well known for its antimicrobial actions; it inhibits Strep mutans that are the primary bacteria that cause tooth decay. With that in mind, it should be no surprise that recent studies have shown the benefit of coconut oil in the prevention of tooth decay.”

Baking soda is often used as a marketing ploy in conventional toothpastes, mostly for the “whitening” effects. Pretty much, baking soda is a mild abrasive that helps to dislodge plaque build up, not only leaving your teeth looking cleaner, but also giving less work for your dentist to do at your checkup. I did find a lot of warnings about using baking soda regularly on your teeth as it can be too abrasive over time and cause some damage. Personally, I haven’t researched this aspect of my toothpaste long enough to know what to think for sure; after all, baking soda is an ingredient in many regular toothpaste brands, but as far as how much they actually use vs. how much you use in a homemade recipe.. who knows? If you are concerned about it, you could add less or skip this ingredient once in a while. After all, it can’t be any worse than little plastic balls!

Thieves oil is a blend of clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, and rosemary. It’s called “Thieves” because it is a blend of herbs that was used by thieves in England to protect them from the plague when they stole from the sick/dying/dead. {Updated to reflect the current FDA policies that we cannot talk about any real benefits of essential oils. All I can say now is that this essential oil helps support healthy immune function. Pfft} . However, I still believe I can reference a study conducted by Weber State University in the late 1990s showing¬†benefits against airborne microorganisms, as well as over 90% reductions in various bacteria after diffusing. {Take that!}¬†I love this oil! (For more information on how to get it, click here!)

I feel completely comfortable using this toothpaste for my family. My mouth feels fresher throughout the day, and my husband has noticed a great improvement in his dental hygiene (and, trust me, there was a lot to improve!) Plus, if it accidentally gets swallowed, there’s no need to rush to a Poison Control Center, which, in opinion, is a “must” for anything you are putting in your mouth in the first place!!

Have you had experience with your own “natural” toothpaste? Or, do you have any brands you would recommend from those not so keen on DIY recipes? Let me know!

 

 

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