In my typical day post, I mentioned that I’ve been using a homemade whitening tooth powder with great results. I started doing this because I kept reading about the benefits of something called calcium bentonite clay.
Calcium bentonite clay is a mildly abrasive clay that gently scrubs and polishes the teeth. It’s nontoxic and rich in vital minerals such as calcium and potassium, which are beneficial for the teeth and gums, and it’s purported to have astringent properties that help remove tartar and clean the gums. Bentonite clay is commonly used as a facial mask, but it has been used for decades as a treatment for numerous health conditions, and many believe that if taken internally it can help prevent disease by strengthening the body’s natural immunity. Some people also claim that it can actually remineralize teeth and reverse cavities, but I cannot attest to any of these claims, nor can I give you medical advice. I can only tell you that it has worked extremely well for me – better than any toothpaste or other commercial whitening product – for the cleaning and whitening of my teeth. For those who might be concerned about its abrasiveness, Dentisse toothpaste is a commercial toothpaste made with both kaolin and bentonite clays, and its relative dentin abrasiveness (RDA) was tested and rated, along with other popular toothpastes, by the Health Research Center at Indiana University – Purdue. It’s actually one of the least abrasive toothpastes on the market, much less abrasive than most whitening toothpastes, and very similar in abrasivity to natural toothpastes like Tom’s of Maine.
In my research I came upon several commercial bentonite clay tooth powders on the market, and I read all of their ingredient lists. I also found dozens of homemade tooth powder recipes, and most called for the purchase of many ingredients that I didn’t already have, and didn’t want to buy (including various herbs and spices, and pricey essential oils), so I decided to create my own simple recipe using what I considered to be the most effective and essential ingredients. Here’s how I did it:
Tri-Salts: This is a nutritional supplement especially designed to neutralize excess acidity, and when used as a tooth powder it lowers the acidity of the mouth to help prevent acid wear and erosion of tooth enamel. It contains significant amounts of the essential macrominerals calcium, magnesium and potassium as carbonates and bicarbonates, without sodium or other salts. This alone, or combined with bentonite clay, would suffice as a tooth powder, with one minor problem – it would taste horrible.
Xylitol: Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that helps prevents cavities. It’s equal in sweetness and volume to sugar and the granular form can be used in many of the ways that sugar is used. I’ve used it for quite awhile now, mainly on fruit and sometimes in my coffee because it doesn’t negatively affect my blood sugar or insulin levels. It’s often used as a sweetener in gum and toothpaste because studies show that it inhibits the growth of bacteria that cause tooth decay. These bacteria, called Streptococcus mutans, cannot utilize xylitol to grow. Over time with xylitol use, the quality of the bacteria in the mouth changes and fewer and fewer decay-causing bacteria survive on tooth surfaces. Less plaque forms and the level of acids attacking the tooth surface is lowered. (source: California Dental Association)
Cinnamon: You often see this in chewing gum because it has anti-bacterial properties, but is gentle to teeth and gums. It also adds a pleasant flavor and scent.
Dried peppermint leaves: Another common toothpaste ingredient which helps reduce plaque levels and freshen breath. I’m using up some bulk peppermint leaf tea that I already had on hand, and it works very well. It adds a nice flavor to the tooth powder.
To make tooth powder:
Simply blend all ingredients except clay in a food processor or coffee grinder until finely powdered. I used my mini Cuisinart (25 cents at a garage sale. WOO!) Stir in clay until well-combined. It’s best to not allow clay to come into contact with metal, such as the food processor blade, because some think this reduces its effectiveness.
Transfer to a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. If you have several family members using this tooth powder, you might want to give each person their own, labeled jar (my husband and I share – we figure we’ve already swapped all our germs anyway).
To use, I just wet my toothbrush, dip it in the powder, tap off the excess, and then add a very small amount of toothpaste. I do this simply because tooth powder doesn’t foam, so brushing with it alone feels weird (and nobody likes change!) I don’t use the tooth powder every time I brush – usually only once a day – but that seems to be enough. In the month or so that I’ve been using this, my teeth have never been so white, or felt so clean and healthy. When I run my tongue over them after brushing, they feel smooth and slick, just like after a dental cleaning. My husband has been using this tooth powder also, and he loves it. I have not yet convinced the children to make the switch, but I’ll keep working on them!
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