Ahh, toothpaste, fresh, minty, and … toxic. It may be surprising that a product nearly everyone willingly puts into their mouths two or three times a day could be full of harsh, dangerous and even deadly chemicals, but it’s true; those “harmful if swallowed” labels on your toothpaste tube are there for a reason.
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Luckily, there’s a gentle, chemical-free, natural alternative that still packs a powerful anti-bacterial punch: coconut oil. When mixed with a few other ingredients, coconut oil can be a lifesaver for your teeth.
Toothpaste is chockablock with chemicals, all of which have some kind of benefit to your teeth, at a cost. Sodium fluoride may strengthen enamel, but it’s also a key ingredient in rat poison and can cause brain damage to humans when swallowed. Another ingredient, propylene glycol, can cause skin, kidney and respiratory problems.
The benefits of these may outweigh the risks in manufactured toothpastes, but why use them when you can have an all-natural, chemical-free toothpaste that helps your teeth without harming them?
It Kills Tooth-Decay Causing Bacteria
In a 2014 study, four groups of participants massaged their gums with sesame oil, olive oil, coconut oil, or chlorhexidine, a prescription-strength antibacterial gel. The oils were just as effective as the chlorhexidine in killing off streptococcus mutans and lactobacillus, two forms of bacteria that are major causes of tooth decay. While olive oil and sesame oil were just as effective in this study, they’d work better as mouthwash than as toothpaste because of their liquid consistency.
Other studies on coconut oil alone have shown that it fights the germs that cause diarrhea, staph infections, and skin infections. A possible reason for this is that coconut oil is high in lauric acid, a type of fat that actively damages certain bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Whatever the science behind it may be, it works, and it works without toothpaste’s toxins or carcinogens.
It Doesn’t Make Food Taste Bad
Ever wonder why most foods taste terrible after you brush your teeth, even though they taste fine after you eat something else minty? It isn’t because of the strong flavor of the toothpaste. The culprit is another chemical, sodium lauryl sulfate, which makes the toothpaste foam in your mouth.
Sodium lauryl sulfate is basically a detergent, breaking apart fat molecules in your mouth to get grease off your teeth. That sounds great in theory, except that they also break apart some of the fats that block bitter tastes from our mouths, and they temporarily block sweet flavors as well.
In essence, sodium lauryl sulfate makes everything taste less sweet and more bitter at the same time. If you’re sick of brushing your teeth before you leave the house and then having your car-ride coffee taste terrible, coconut oil may be your fix.
Sure, you can buy toothpastes without sodium fluoride, sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan, and propylene glycol–for a hefty fee. Natural products always seem to be more expensive, don’t they? It’s much more cost effective to mix coconut oil and a few other ingredients together to create your own toothpaste.
Mix coconut oil with a little baking soda, which whitens and acts as an abrasive to scour away plaque, and bentonite clay, another antimicrobial agent which gives the toothpaste its paste-like consistency. If you like, add some artificial sweetener and peppermint oil for taste. Voila! It’s toothpaste, but cheaper, simpler and better for you.