Did you know that most commercial toothpaste and mouthwash brands contain ingredients that cause bad breath? They’re also full of synthetic ingredients that you wouldn’t want to accidentally swallow.
Thankfully there are plenty of natural toothpaste and other dental care options available these days. Read on to learn about the ingredients to avoid and the natural alternatives to consider in their place.
In this article:
- Natural Toothpaste & Toothpowder
- Natural Mouthwash
- Natural Toothbrushes
- Tongue Scraper
- Plastic-Free Dental Floss
Natural Toothpaste & Toothpowder
Most commercial toothpastes include sodium lauryl sulfate (a skin irritant), saccharin (artificial sweetener), artificial colors, and other synthetic ingredients that are harmful to swallow. Meanwhile, natural toothpaste brands use plants and minerals to clean and whiten teeth.
Natural ingredients you can expect to see:
- sodium bicarbonate (better known as baking soda)
- calcium carbonate (limestone to polish)
- bentonite clay
- activated charcoal
- xylitol (prevents plaque, comes from the birch tree)
- sea salt
- coconut oil
- herbal extracts, natural spices, and essential oils such as peppermint, clove bud, and cinnamon
Revitin Prebiotic Toothpaste
Most commercial toothpaste ingredients aim to kill all the bacteria in our mouths… including the beneficial bacteria that we need. What I like about Revitin is that it uses prebiotic ingredients to help balance the mouth’s microbiome, so the good bacteria can do its job.
Activated Charcoal Toothpaste by My Magic Mud
I tend to use toothpaste with charcoal, clay, and/or baking soda because they make my teeth feel like I’ve just been to the dentist — every time. I also find that my breath is better when I wake up in the morning. Magic Mud’s natural toothpaste is made in the U.S. from activated charcoal (from coconut shells), bentonite clay, coconut oil, and essential oils.
All-Natural Toothpowder by The DirtThis is made with organic cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg and is, by far, the best-tasting toothpowder I’ve ever tried! Toothpowder can look a little pricy at first glance, but a little goes a long way. One small jar is a 6-month supply for one person or a 3-month supply for two people.
If you’ve never used a tooth powder, don’t worry – it’s easy.
- Rinse your toothbrush and flick off the extra water.
- Dip the bristles in the toothpowder and (again) shake off any extra.
- Brush gently!
Redmond EarthpasteRedmond is a small town in Utah, known for its naturally pink salt deposits and mineral-rich red earth (hence the name of the town). This toothpaste is made from the town’s own clay and salt and is about as natural as they come. It has no foaming agents whatsoever, so the consistency may feel a little odd at first and this “ugly toothpaste” (as the company calls it – ha!) definitely looks ‘earthy’, but I love the taste. My favorite is the lemon twist – yum!!
Triclosan is no longer a worry
A lot of natural living sites list triclosan as one of the harmful ingredients you need to avoid in toothpaste. And that used to be true. But thanks to growing awareness and concern over this toxic ingredient, the FDA banned triclosan in antibacterial soaps in 2016. And while they didn’t ban it from toothpaste, popular brands began removing it on their own, presumably ahead of any public backlash.
Colgate seems to have been the last brand to remove this toxic chemical from their toothpaste, finally doing so in 2019.
The irony of mouthwash is that most contain ingredients that promote the growth of bad bacteria in our mouth. And guess what that leads to? Bad breath! How is that possible? Because the ingredients are meant to destroy all the bacteria in our mouths… even the beneficial bacteria that we need for good oral hygiene!
Mouthwash ingredients to avoid:
- Alcohol (ethanol) dries out saliva, which kills the good bacteria in our mouth.
- Chlorhexidine is the main antibacterial agent in mouthwash and is a known allergen.
- Chlorine dioxide is a bleaching agent used to whiten teeth. It’s also a hazardous gas.
- Saccharin… who thought that was a good idea?!
Natural mouthwashes include healthy ingredients such as:
- Aloe vera is a soothing ingredient that’s known to heal wounds… on our skin and in our mouth.
- Coconut oil prevents dry mouth and can destroy the bad bacteria while leaving the good bacteria alone.
- Activated charcoal pulls the toxins from our mouth.
- Essential oils help to freshen breath and some have antibacterial or antiviral properties as well.
3% Hydrogen PeroxideGrab some 3% hydrogen peroxide from the drug store (the regular brown bottle) and swoosh it around your mouth for 30 to 60 seconds. Not only can it help to kill bad bacteria and whiten your teeth, but it can also reduce gum inflammation and help canker sores to heal faster. Just be careful not to swallow hydrogen peroxide. A tiny bit isn’t a big deal, but a mouthful is enough to cause a stomach ache and possibly some vomiting.
Find it in any drugstore or supermarket. Or buy it on Amazon.
Lumineux mouthwashI have this natural mouthwash in my medicine cabinet right now. The taste is mild (not harsh like some) so it’s easy to swoosh for a full minute. I’m a multi-tasker, so I take a swig as I’m headed into the shower and spit it out while I’m washing my hair. 🙂 The main ingredients are aloe, sea salts, coconut oil, and essential oils.
Oil Pulling Mouthwash by The DirtThese guys know how to make stuff taste good!! This mouthwash has essential oils of clove, peppermint, cardamom, rose, myrrh, and rosemary extract in a base of sesame, coconut, and seabuckthorn oils. You can use it as a regular mouthwash or as a full-on oil pull.
How to Oil Pull
Oil pulling can freshen breath and it’s said to whiten teeth over time. And it’s pretty easy to do… though it’s not easy to go the full 20-minutes when you’re just starting out. That’s ok, you can build up to it — I started with 3 minutes a day.
All you have to do is swish a capful of it around your mouth and through your teeth, for however long you can hold it (up to 20 minutes or so). Once you’re done, just spit it out in the sink… along with any harmful microorganisms that it’s pulled from your mouth.
Bamboo toothbrushes are a great alternative to plastic. They can all look alike, so brands often paint a different color on the bottom or number the brush, so everyone in the family knows which is theirs.
You can get them with natural boar hair or (vegan) nylon bristles. The nylon bristles are sometimes infused with activated charcoal, which helps to draw toxins from your mouth.An even more natural option is to use a natural tooth-cleaning twig, known as a “miswak” or “sewah”. These natural twigs aren’t exactly the best tasting option out there, but they are naturally antibacterial and completely free from plastic and chemicals. They’re also said to reduce the urge to smoke cigarettes, which is a nice bonus if you’re trying to quit!
Tongue ScraperAll those little bumps on our tongue can harbor bacteria and the film that builds up can feel pretty gross. To get rid of the film — and prevent it from building up in the first place — you’ll want to scrape or brush your tongue daily. (Brushing your tongue is good; scraping is even more effective.)
Aside from cleaning away that nasty coating, scraping your tongue regularly can also help to prevent cavities and get rid of bad breath.
How do you scrape your tongue?
- Brush and floss first… scrape after.
- Scrape gently from the back of your mouth to the front several times. Some websites say to do it 3 to 5 times, others say that it’s Ayurvedic practice to do 7 to 14 strokes. Do whatever works for you!
- Rinse the scraper between strokes, if needed.
- For best results, skip the plastic and opt for a metal tongue scraper made from copper, silver or stainless steel.
Plastic-Free Dental FlossMost dental floss is made from nylon (a plastic) and coated in a petroleum-based wax. And many of the eco-versions are made from silk, which involves killing the silkworm before it’s emerged from its cocoon… often by boiling it alive, which is particularly cruel.
I prefer this bamboo floss with activated charcoal because it’s completely vegan and zero-waste. It comes in a refillable glass jar (with 2 additional refills) and plastic-free packaging. It’s also coated in a plant wax called candelilla, instead of the petroleum-based wax.
This Should Make You Smile
It’s crazy how many synthetic ingredients are in regular oral care products, don’t you think? With so many natural alternatives available these days that are just as effective (if not more effective), I just don’t see the point. But that’s ok! Dental products all run out and need to be replaced at some point, so it’s easy to make the swap to a more natural alternative. And you don’t have to dump everything all at once — you can do it one at a time, as needed, which is a bit easier on the wallet. Smile!