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Why I Stopped Using Toothpaste (And What I Use Instead)

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Toothbrush with a toothpaste being squirted onto it with a green background.

There was a time when I never would have considered throwing away my toothpaste.

I used to think that my toothpaste was the only thing that could keep my teeth healthy, the only thing standing between my teeth and the dentist’s drill.

I’ve always struggled with problems with my teeth, which, I realize now was probably partly because of the horrible junk food diet I used to eat when I was younger and from the lack of certain key nutrients that are important for healthy teeth like Vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin K2. (Junk food isn’t exactly the best sources of these important nutrients!)

Finding the Perfect Toothpaste Isn’t the Answer, Though!

Because of the problems with my teeth, I felt like choosing the right toothpaste was the only thing that could possibly save my teeth. I used to spend a long time in the toothpaste aisle scanning the labels on all the tubes looking for just the right one that would be the magic cure-all and solve all my tooth problems.

But, of course, I never found it. In fact, the plethora of “dentist-recommended” toothpaste brands I tried might actually have been doing more harm than good.

So What’s Really in My Toothpaste Anyway?

I used to just use toothpaste without even thinking about what was actually in it and what all of those ingredients really are. But the thing that really made me feel more skeptical about my old toothpaste, was the little phrase “Consult a Poison Control Center immediately if more than used for brushing is swallowed.”

Ok, so this stuff is toxic if it’s swallowed, but it’s all right to fill my mouth with it 2-3 times a day, 7 times a week? Something doesn’t seem quite right about that.

One of the most controversial ingredients in toothpaste is fluoride. While it’s mentioned as an ingredient that’s supposed to help protect the teeth against cavities, the type of fluoride that’s usually added to toothpastes is actually toxic when it’s ingested. Even though naturally-occurring fluoride is able to be assimilated by the body, the type of fluoride added to toothpaste and to the water supply in many towns is often an industrial waste product and it is classified as a toxin by the EPA. You can read more about the harmful effects of fluoride in these posts:

Another problem ingredient in most toothpastes (even natural ones!) is glycerin. Glycerin is one of those ingredients that I always skimmed over when reading ingredient lists. It sounds pretty harmless, right? I thought so until I read this post by Butter Believer that says that glycerin “creates a filmy barrier that prevents minerals from strengthening teeth and could actually promote cavities — and it takes up to 27 rinses to get it off!”

This idea really intrigued me, so I checked out the author and book that this post by Butter Believer mentioned – Ramiel Nagel, the author of Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition. I read the book, and it completely changed the way I thought about the health of my teeth.

I had had it all wrong. I had been thinking that what I put on my teeth was more important that what I was putting in my body. Now, I realize that nutrition is the most important factor in the health of my teeth – not the kind of toothpaste I use.

Fluoride and glycerin aren’t the only problem ingredients in toothpaste either. Most toothpastes, including the ones I had been using, also contain ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate – a harsh detergent- as well as artificial flavors and colors. I hadn’t realized it before, but after using regular toothpaste, my mouth would often feel dry and tight after. I always felt like I needed a drink after brushing my teeth. More than likely, it was the sodium lauryl sulfate that was causing this problem for me.

What to Use Instead of Toothpaste?

After learning more about what was actually inside my toothpaste, I decided it was best to just toss the rest of the tube into the trash. I hate wasting things, but I felt like the toothpaste could be doing my teeth more harm than good, so it was time to get rid of it. Once I had stopped using toothpaste, though, I was faced with the question of what to do instead of toothpaste. That’s when I discovered tooth powder.

Tooth powders have actually been around for quite awhile. Tooth powders were what people used to brush their teeth before modern toothpastes were invented. Many people even made their own homemade tooth powders using simple and natural ingredients. I found a 19th-century example of a homemade tooth powder recipe in an etiquette and hygiene book called Decorum (published by J.A. Ruth & Co. in 1879.) Here’s the recipe:

“Take one ounce of myrrh in fine powder, two tablespoonfuls of honey, and a little green sage in very fine powder. Mix them well together, and wet the teeth and gums with a little every night and morning.”

This is a recipe I’d be curious to try someday when I finish the current jar of tooth powder I’m using right now. For the past couple of months, I’ve been using this herbal tooth powder. This powder is recommended by Ramiel Nagel and it’s made out of nothing more than organic and wildcrafted herbs and plants that have healing, soothing, anti-inflammatory properties to help the teeth and gums.

When I first threw away my toothpaste, I started using a tooth powder made with mostly baking soda and sea salt with some herbs added in, but I found that it was irritating my gums a bit. Ramiel Nagel mentions in his book that baking soda can be irritating for some, and I found this to be true for my own mouth. Since switching over to the Holistic Dental tooth powder, though, the irritation has gone down, and my gums feel much healthier now.

The herbal tooth powder doesn’t make the same kind of lather that a regular tooth paste would. Even though there’s no lather, though, I still feel like my teeth are clean after I brush them, and the powder has a nice fresh and minty flavor, too. Not the fake artificial flavoring kind of mint, but the real thing. The powder is a dark forest green color, (so it does seem a little strange at first if you’re used to white paste), but the color isn’t from any dyes -it’s just from the herbs themselves.

When I brush my teeth now, I feel much better knowing that I’m using something simple and natural rather than filling my mouth with fluoride, harsh detergents, and other artificial ingredients. And now I don’t have to spend hours browsing the toothpaste aisle looking for just the right one either!

Have you thrown away your toothpaste yet?

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This post is linked to Sunday School at Butter Believer, Make A Move Monday at Simply Made Home, Scratch Cookin’ Tuesday at Granny’s Vital Vittles, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways Wednesday at Frugally Sustainable.

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The information in this post is not to be taken as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

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Tuesday 28th of July 2020

Excellent article. Thanks. I'm coming up to my one year mark without using toothpaste. Actually, I only brush with baking soda about once a week now, and dry brush/floss as needed. So, perhaps every few days or so. My anecdotal story is that my breath and mouth have never been healthier. As you stated, diet has a lot to do with that. I'm super careful what I put into my body, and eat a primarily plant based and H2O diet.

I'll go as far as to say that I've stopped using soaps and shampoos, too, with the same effects: I feel and smell better by only showering about once a week with nothing but filtered water. It took my fine thin hair that tends towards the oily side about 4 months to acclimate. I haven't figured out the BO thing yet, so I'm still on the deodorant kick, but have gotten it down to only using it maybe twice a week.

There is just too much $$ to be made selling me garbage that makes me and our Earth unhealthy causing me to continually feed the Beast. I've had it. I'm done. Hopefully more people will find sites like yours and decide to embrace a healthy-er lifestyle. Be the change, sort of thing.

Lori Elliott

Wednesday 29th of July 2020

Thanks for sharing your experiences! That's great that you've had such good results and have been able to transition to more natural alternatives and eliminate some products altogether. I know there are some good natural products out there, but like you said, there are also a lot of expensive ones with unhealthy ingredients, so it's great when people embrace a healthier lifestyle!


Wednesday 22nd of April 2020

For the last year or so I've experienced terrible gum problems and also some hair loss caused by Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia (FFA).

Researching FFA I found articles which listed sunscreens as a possible culprit. One article narrowed it down to titanium dioxide nanoparticles.

This got me thinking about titanium dioxide in the mouth - does it cause irritation?

Scanning the ingredients list of my Arm and Hammer baking soda toothpaste, which I've used for eons, I noticed a final ingredient listed as CI 77891.

What is that..?

I entered in Google: 'CI 7789' and results came up as 'Titanium Dioxide nanoparticles'.

Further investigation has offered countless articles warning about the dangers of titanium dioxide. How titanium dental implants or titanium fixtures used in medicine can cause allergic reactions and inflammation..

It made me think of all the harmful things our capitalist culture has already done to us; from putting mercury in our mouths (via amalgam filings) to contaminating our food with pesticides, GMO crops and controversial additives, such as aspartame, monosodium glutamate and tartrazine etc. The list goes on and on.

So I don't trust anything now.

The battle is on to reclaim my health. I'll start by making my own baking soda toothpaste with peppermint essential oil (a recipe I saw on Earth Clinic) and see how it goes.

When it comes to reclaiming our health the Internet is a hugely valuable resource.

Lori Elliott

Friday 24th of April 2020

That's really great that you were able to figuring out what was causing your symptoms and that you're making your own natural toothpaste recipe now. I agree that the internet is a very valuable resource to have!

Daniel Sasso

Wednesday 14th of June 2017

I've been thinking about the poison in my colgate toothpaste. I want to get rid of it, but I'm worried my breath will smell like dogshit if i brush with baking soda.

My mother Would be very disappointed if i showed up for lunch on sunday with breath that smells like gypsy armpits covered in cat vomit.

Please advise


Thursday 15th of June 2017

Well, since baking soda is usually used as a odor eliminator, there's probably a good chance that it would help your breath rather than making it worse. If you want the minty aroma you would usually get from toothpaste, the best way to get that is to use an herbal tooth powder that has some peppermint added to it. And, if you want something that's more of a compromise between Colgate and baking soda, there are quite a few different brands of more natural toothpastes that you can find at health food stores (or I've even seen some at regular grocery stores too if they have a "natural" section.) Those would give you the same feel and aroma as a Colgate toothpaste but with less chemicals.


Saturday 10th of June 2017

How about tooth oil? I mix essential oils into coconut oil and store the toothbrush in it to keep it from getting infected. It is the first thing I have found that keeps my gingivitis in remission.


Saturday 10th of June 2017

I haven't ever tried that, but I've heard of several people who use coconut oil and/or essential oils for their teeth, and they seem to like it and feel that it works well for them.

Marisa salerni

Monday 7th of December 2015

I've been considering giving up toothpaste as every time I brush my teeth i have a coughing and sputtering episode to the point of dry reaching and sometimes even throwing up. No im not gagging myself with my tooth brush, it's definitely the toothpaste that causes this reaction. Occasionally when I have brushed without paste, I have not had any episodes. After Reading this information i will Definitely use Alternative Products. I'm done with toothpaste.


Thursday 17th of November 2016

Oh my gosh! I thought I was alone in this! haha. Thank you for sharing! One morning it was so bad I actually threw up. And this using Jason's toothpaste. Something's in it for sure that causes such a reaction! : )


Monday 7th of December 2015

It sounds like you might be having some sort of reaction to some of the ingredients in your toothpaste. Hopefully using some alternative and natural products will work better for you!

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