The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Why you might be better off without toothpaste

DentistI've found that being obsessive about oral hygiene is worth it.  The expense aside (and a trip to the dentist is always pricey), who wants the pain and suffering of a filling (or worse)?  That's why I always ask my dentist if there's any more preventative care I can add to my routine, and have come up with the following complex daily regimen:

  • Mornings I brush with an electric toothbrush (better for the gums), then use both a Listerine-type mouthwash (to kill germs, although I want to research this more since I read recently that this might be a bad idea, akin to killing off your good gut bacteria) and an ACT-type mouthwash (for fluoride, since our well-water is fluoride-free, and I'm willing to swish with fluoride despite the potential dangers of drinking it)
  • Evenings I floss, and brush

But when I went to the dentist Wednesday, I reported I'd felt a little twinge in one tooth recently.  Did I have a cavity?

"Did you just start using a whitening toothpaste?" the hygienist asked.  Well, yes, I guess I did.  She explained that baking soda and any other additives in toothpaste can cause your gums to recede since the chemicals irritate the skin in your mouth.  My hygienist always recommends the plainest toothpaste you can find, but one that contains fluoride.

My dentist came in then and added in her two cents.  Since I'm already using a fluoride mouthwash, she doesn't see why I need to use toothpaste at all.  The mechanical movement of the brush is what cleans your teeth --- toothpaste just gives you that minty-fresh breath (and a dose of fluoride).

This is the best dentist I've ever had, so I'm inclined to trust her judgment.  And who doesn't want to save $12 a year on toothpaste?   Here's hoping that at my next annual checkup, I'll once again be cavity-free.

Keeping your chickens healthy starts with clean water.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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The idea of using it came from a woman who said she had been brushing with it for 20 years. And the obligatory thank you to the Weston A Price organization for the meeting.

Mouth feels cleaner. Teeth seem healthier. Gums seem much healthier. Dentist is poorer!

Just my two cents :).


Comment by John Sat Oct 19 17:57:07 2013

GreatgrandMa lived to be 85, GrsndMa to 90 & Ma's still going good @84 (doesn't look a day older than 81). All used baking soda to brush. Never lost a tooth or had a cavity among them. Dad's teeth were gone by age 35. The genetic component is grossly underestimated by the experts.

I should think brushing with Flouride would be like rubbing insulin on your stomach. Taken internally, it would be incorporated into the matrix of the tooth, but externally it has to deal with enamel, one of the hardest substances known. Just wonderin'.

Comment by doc Sun Oct 20 05:15:44 2013
Hi Anna - I recently started making my own toothpaste and I'm generally happy. I use a tiny dab of coconut oil and a bit of salt. Both are anti bacterial, and I believe the salt provides a more gentle scrub than baking soda. I plan to try a bit of dried cilantro too, which I read is powerful against salmonella and also can draw out toxins. I do a bit of "oil pulling" at the end, and then it all goes into the compost (oil is not good for our septic). I'm still in the testing phase, but I like that everything I use on my body is edible and good for me. Plus, it's stuff I have in the pantry anyway.
Comment by Glenda Mon Oct 21 18:48:54 2013

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