Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Homemade Toothpowder

Homemade toothpaste is an idea I've been playing around with for a few years now. I wanted to come up with something simple that worked at least as well as store-bought toothpaste, was less expensive, contained no toxic ingredients, and did away with the landfill waste created by non-reusable toothpaste tubes.

Some time ago in another post I put forth the idea of cleaning one's teeth using the twigs of certain trees. This was an attractive idea, but I eventually found that I could not practically replace my toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss with twigs alone. I have not yet found an environmentally friendly toothbrush or floss, but I am happy to say that I have the toothpaste solution figured out.

This recipe I am sharing is actually a powder, not a paste. You can use it either by dipping a moist but not dripping wet brush into the jar of powder, or by using a small wooden spoon to apply the powder to the moist brush while holding it over the jar to catch any powder that falls. The first method is easier and quicker, but the second method is a little better because you avoid getting moisture in the powder jar.

I have personally been using nothing else for about a year, and my teeth are doing as well as ever. I believe that the ingredients in this powder are more effective than most store-bought toothpastes when it comes to keeping your gums healthy. My mother has had bad gums for most of her adult life, although she brushes her teeth diligently. But somehow, my father, who had himself already converted to the tooth powder, convinced her to try out this unconventional stuff and she noticed an immediate improvement in her gums. When the toothpowder ran out, however, and she began using fluoridated toothpaste again, her gum problems again worsened.
I have since kept a plentiful supply handy.

A few months ago we sent a jar of this tooth powder to one of my mother's friends who also has had chronic gum problems. Not too long ago she wrote back an enthusiastic email saying that using the tooth powder had made a definite improvement in the health of her gums.

If the idea appeals to you, I would encourage you to try this out. I would also be willing to sell jars of the tooth powder to anyone who doesn't want to actually make it.

It is important to have the spices ground up as finely as possible. Therefore, unless you have a machine that can do that for you, I would recommend buying the spices in powdered form if possible, especially cinnamon, which is very tough to grind by hand or in 'light weight' machines.

The amounts are given in rough proportional parts. Every time I make it is slightly different. Maybe in the future I will post a more definite recipe, but this is the basic idea.

4 parts Star Anise
3 parts Cloves
1 part Cinnamon
1 part Turmeric
1 part Cardamom
Thyme < 1 part
Licorice powder < 1 part
several drops of tea tree oil

More baking powder than baking soda

Mix the spice powders together and cut with enough baking powder and some baking soda so that the spices are extended but the powder is still colorful with an abundant proportion of spice. Store in an airtight glass jar. Consider making a small wooden spoon/spatula/applicator stick to fit right in the jar.

The baking powder/soda are ingredients that probably mechanically help clean teeth while also being infused with the spices' medicinal oils.

The first tooth powder recipe that I experimented with was very simple: pure baking soda. It tasted terribly harsh and salty. The addition of antimicrobial, anti inflammatory, flavorful, and aromatic herbs makes a great improvement. Eventually I made a discovery by mistake that baking powder can serve a similar function in the recipe while tasting much better than baking soda. I still include some baking soda, though.

Other things that would probably be good in the toothpowder:

spearmint oil
oregano oil, supposedly very good for gums, but expensive
tulsi, holy basil

final note: go light on tea tree oil because it is toxic to ingest