For many years on and off we have used toothpaste made from bicarbonate soda. I’m not certain what my original motivations for using it were, but now it is probably a combination of frugalism and an attempt to reduce landfill waste.
I don’t really want to go into the oral health side of it; there’s plenty of “information” floating around the internets from people with all kinds of opinions. After my latest quick search I took away “it’s not so much what you brush with, but how you brush”. Brushing with a poor technique can cause much damage.
One could simply dip a damp toothbrush into some bi-carb and go for it, but we’re a bit more couth than that. We have traditionally added some essential oil to our jar of bi-carb which makes it a little more palatable and helps turn the powder slightly more paste-like.
This time around I thought I would look at some other recipes and try out something different.
My first batch is chocolate flavoured! Apparently, a chemical found in raw cacao has been shown to help remineralisation of tooth enamel. Theobromine is the primary alkaloid found in cocoa and at least one study that I quickly found (Kargul et al., 2012) claim that in certain concentrations and circumstances it was beneficial for enamel hardness. However theobromine is only about 1% of raw cacao beans, and the myriad other components—particularly the carbohydrates—make cacao’s claim as a super-dental-health-food a bit sketchy. But whatever, I have heaps of cacao nibs that need using!
So in with my quarter jar of bi-carb went about half a teaspoon of ground cacao nibs, plus another teaspoon full of coconut oil and about 10 drops of spearmint essential oil.
I thought I would try out the suggestion of adding coconut oil that I found in many recipes to try and get a bit more of a paste constancy.
This batch is more like we have usually made, just bi-carb and essential oil. Last time we borrowed some clove oil from my brother and his wife which we really quite liked the flavour of, though I never got around to buying some of my own and decided to just use the spearmint oil we already have.
It is never as potently minty as most toothpastes are, but I have found that to be a bonus as I can brush my teeth and immediately eat something without it effecting the taste.
Bi-carb toothpaste is quite confronting the first few times you try it. Mostly, it is very salty; water tastes very sweet after using it. But I very quickly grew accustomed to it and now I don’t really notice it.
Also, we haven’t completely forgone toothpaste. Sometimes I just want the full on super minty oral assault that a commercial toothpaste provides, so I usually alternate between the bi-carb and an Australian made “natural” toothpaste (chosen more for the Australian made than the “natural”).
Bi-carb toothpaste: give it a go! (Or don’t. It doesn’t bother me.)