Health: Gritting my teeth

What would you use to clean your teeth if OralB or Macleans wasn’t about?

I’ve been wondering for a while what we’d do without P&G or Unilever in our lives for toiletries like this. There’s also a part of me that wonders whether what’s in them is any good anyway, given how many chemicals make them up. Not to mention their impact on the environment.

But is there any alternative?


Combined with the recent Johnson & Johson’s court case where talc was judged to have caused ovarian cancer and an increased cancerous link having been proven by research – probably because up until the 1970’s talc could contain asbestos – it’s not overly misguided to think that perhaps ingredients in our current toiletries range are knowingly or unknowingly bad for our health.

Health or not, many of them are bad for the environment, particularly those little bits of plastic known as ‘microbeads’ that appeared in toothpaste a few years ago and have since been banned in the UK. Anyone with an environmental conscience, and in the true spirit of rewilding, it surely makes sense to switch to something else?

I’m not into scaremongering too much and believe everyone should read a balanced argument for themselves but a quick Google search will quickly highlight one side of the argument and showcase the potential dangers of toothpaste. I’m no doctor or scientist but needless to say, there’s plenty of dubious looking chemicals in some of the main brands, which probably is better off staying out of your mouth and body:

  • Triclosan
  • SLS
  • Artifical sweeteners (Aspartame)
  • Flouride
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Diethanolamine

My first reference to an alternative to normal toothpaste came up in Valerie Anne Worwood’s book the Fragrant Pharmacy – which is something of a bible if you’re into aromatherapy and such things.  In it, she talks about certain regions, say remote parts of Africa, where sticks and rock salt have historically provided them with effective dental treatment – there’s no OralB out there but contradictorily, some healthy teeth and gums. Some additional Google research shows Native Americans using hair wrapped around hardwood twigs and chewing pine-needles as one traditional technique to keep teeth clean, so there’s evidence of a variety of other approaches from cultures far and wide through time.
I’m not entirely convinced these communities were or are totally problem free when it comes to dental issues but nevertheless, maybe there’s a balance to be struck between a more natural toothpaste and modern brushes and dental treatment.

So what’s the alternative?

Valerie Anne Worwood advocates a simple home recipe which I’ve seen repeated across the internet on various blogs and websites. There are many variations on this theme, most notably the use of coconut oil to turn it from a powder to a paste, as well as the inclusion of essential oils and natural sweeteners e.g. Stevia. I’m going to stick to the recipe below and see how I get on:

  • 2 dessertspoons of clay
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 drops peppermint
  • 2 drop lemon

Dip your toothbrush into the powder and a little water before brushing.

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