Sunday, October 20, 2013

Is the Wrong Toothpaste Preventing Your Teeth From Re-Mineralizing?

In the real food community, it is fairly well known that tooth decay is not caused by bacteria, but is actually an indication that the diet is lacking in nutrients.  Tooth decay can be cured through a nutrient-dense diet, and reports abound of people curing their teeth through eating traditional foods such as raw dairy, bone broth, grassfed organ meats, and cod liver oil.

What is Remineralization?

The process of curing tooth decay is known as remineralization. Remineralization of teeth can occur when the diet has enough vital nutrients to allow the tooth to rebuild itself.  This happens when the tooth is given the nutrients it needs via the blood that feeds the root of the tooth, as well as the saliva in the mouth.  Saliva contains calcium and phosphate which the tooth can use to remineralize.

How Can the Wrong Toothpaste Interfere with Remineralization?

many of the expensive organic toothpastes contain glycerin, too
Most commercial toothpastes, even organic ones, contain glycerin. According to Dr. Gerard Judd, the glycerin in toothpaste coats the teeth and prevents them from remineralizing because it blocks the flow of calcium and phosphate (from the saliva) into the teeth. Judd explains that glycerin adheres so well to teeth that it would take more than 20 brushings to fully remove it from the teeth.

In researching this topic further, I have found that there is definitely no consensus on whether or not glycerin does actually prevent the teeth from remineralizing.  There are now plenty of people that doubt whether this is actually the case. But back in 2006 when I first read this theory about glycerin preventing remineralization, there wasn't much information about it available on the internet, and we decided to go ahead and stop using toothpaste with added glycerin. 

My Family's Experience

Before my husband and I switched away from toothpaste containing added glycerin, we both had some issues with tooth sensitivity. My husband's teeth, especially, were very sensitive to hot and cold, so he used Sensodyne toothpaste to help with this problem.  We decided to switch to Tooth Soap (at the time, it was the only non-glycerin tooth cleaner I could even find).

We were a bit doubtful about using Tooth Soap, and it did take a little while to get used to the taste. But one thing we noticed right away was that our teeth felt very clean, much cleaner than they had with our conventional toothpaste. 

Over the next few weeks, we noticed something surprising: the Tooth Soap stopped our tooth sensitivity problems! We were amazed that both of us lost our tooth sensitivity after just a few weeks of using Tooth Soap.  Whether or not the lack of glycerin was the cause of the improvements can't be said for certain, but we were very happy to find that neither of us had any longer had tooth sensitivity.

Tooth Cleaning Options

Now it has been over 6 years since we switched away from using toothpaste containing glycerin.  We've tried quite a few different tooth cleaning options over the years, and they all have their pluses and minuses. None of these tooth cleaning options contains any added glycerin.

  • Tooth Soap
    • Pros: This has the best flavor of any of the soap-based tooth cleaners we've tried. It comes in a nice glass bottle with a glass dropper to apply the liquid to the toothbrush.
    • Cons: It is very expensive, and not available locally where we live.
  • Lemon EarthPaste
    • Pros: We love Earthpaste! It is a non-foaming toothpaste based on Redmond Clay (which is rich in more than 60 trace minerals that may aid in tooth remineralization). It tastes great, and is easy to apply to the toothbrush since it is thick and not drippy. It is also available locally.
    • Cons: It is somewhat expensive.
  • Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap
    • Pros: Because Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap is very concentrated, only a little bit is needed in the tooth soap mixture. This makes it very inexpensive. Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soaps are also readily available at the local healthfood store.
    • Cons: Dr Bronner's definitely doesn't taste as good as the tooth soap, but it works just fine for us.
    • How to make it: You can vary the amount of soap depending on your preferences, but I generally use about 1 part Dr. Bronner's to 8 parts filtered water. We use old Tooth Soap glass bottles with droppers to hold the homemade tooth soap, and the dropper makes using it very easy. (Or you can buy a reusable glass dropper bottle here.)
  •  Coral White Toothpaste
    • Pros: This is the most similar to "normal" toothpaste.  It tastes great, and people who want something more "normal" will like it just fine.  This toothpaste also contains minerals such as calcium which may help in tooth remineralization.
    • Cons: It is somewhat expensive and not available locally.
  •  Homemade Tooth Powder
    • Pros: My kids don't do so well with liquid tooth soap, because it is so watery and easily drips off their toothbrushes.  Tooth powder works much better for them.  Tooth powder is very inexpensive, and all of the ingredients are readily available at the local healthfood store. Since tooth powder is somewhat abrasive, it works well as a tooth whitener as well.
    • Cons: Since tooth powder is somewhat abrasive, I don't like to use it on a daily basis, as I want to protect my enamel. Using tooth powder just once or twice a week works well for us. 
    • How to make it: The tooth powder we use is made very simply with just baking soda, french clay, and a bit of essential oil. Instructions for making the tooth powder are here.  A little goes a long way: I made a batch over a year ago, and we still have lots left!  I store most of the tooth powder in a tightly-closed container, and just pour out a small amount at a time into a small glass dish on the counter. That way, we can all just dip our wet toothbrushes into the dish to apply a bit.  I tell my kids to use it only a few times a week, and on the other days they just brush their teeth with plain water.  (It works just fine this way; neither of my kids have any plaque on their teeth and their teeth are easily cleaned just by the action of brushing.) 

Have you switched away from conventional toothpaste? What is your favorite non-glycerin toothpaste?

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Anonymous said...

I am currently pregnant with my 3rd child and have noticed my teeth getting really gray--though I eat a fairly nutrient-dense diet. After only one month of using Coral White Toothpaste I notice my teeth coming back to life!

Anonymous said...

Just wondering if all these options are GAPS legal?
Also you show the ongaurd toothpaste are you not recommending this as a option?

Sarah Smith said...

I don't think toothpaste has to be necessarily GAPS-legal, since it should be spit out instead of swallowed.

I would not recommend the On-Guard toothpaste because it does have glycerin.

Ella B said...

I am on my first tube of Tate's Natural Miracle toothaste. So far so good. Looks and acts like a "regular" toothpaste. I have tooth sensitivity issues too so I am hoping this will make a difference. I have also purchased Earthpaste by Redmond but havent used it yet. No glycerin in either one. I- Herb has better prices

Margaret said...

I use Tropical Traditions Teeth Cleaner, which only contains coconut oil, baking soda, xanthum gum, myrrh powder, stevia and organic essential oils. No fluoride, SLS or glycerin.

Anonymous said...

Redmond clay mixed with coconut oil for me (with hot water running into sink so coconut oil doesn't clog pipes. The gaps between my tooth enamel and the gums is now gone - no more getting food stuck in there! My son is using Redmond Clay's lemon toothpaste. He loves it and his teeth are definitely doing well.

Laurie Paul said...

This is the recipe I use and like. I add cinnamon eo because I use homeopathics. And I also add a little coconut oil.

Sue said...

After reading the ingredients of every 'natural' toothpaste at the main three health food stores in Vancouver, BC, I found one without glycerin - Earthpaste. The Peppermint one contains: purified water, food grade Redmond Clay, xylitol, peppermint essential oil, menthol, Redmond Real salt, tea tree oil. I think I bought it on sale for $6.99 or so.... It become a bit difficult to get the paste out of the tube when it's half full, so you may need to fold it from the bottom and hold with a clip. Be careful though as this action may cause the paste to spurt out!

Anonymous said...

My dentist told me that the best teeth cleaner is baking soda. I brush my teeth with baking soda and a bit of peppermint oil for taste/freshness. I brush my daughter's teeth with simple baking soda with nothing added. My dentist also caution against using clay because it is harder (on the hardness scale) than tooth dentin, and sometimes harder than tooth enamel. Since many adults have eroded enamel, clay may produce further erosion.
Even if baking soda seems abrasive (not as fine as powder) it is softer than dentin/enamel and would not cause erosion of tooth structure.
My daughter used to have a lot of plaque when we brushed her teeth with plain water but since we switched to baking soda she has zero plaque (her plaque score went from 4 to 0, 0 being the best). We only brush her teeth once a day before going to bed at night.
For people who have a tendency to form plaque, clay might actually help a lot. However, since I did not have this tendency (never had plaque on my teeth) clay contributed to my teeth erosion despite the fact that I actually liked the feeling of my teeth after brushing them with clay mixture. I believe, as with anything, it is best to find your individual best teeth cleaner, rather than an absolute best recommended by others.

Unknown said...

If the teeth along with dental hygiene usually are not healthy along with in good shape it's not at all recommended to use one of the best whitening toothpaste solutions.
Always check with your dentist if you're unsure. While whitening toothpastes are great to brighten your laugh,
to keep it doing this you ought to maintain consistent and suitable brushing practices.
This in reality is since important if not more important versus toothpaste itself.

Anonymous said...

Hello Sarah,

First of all, thank you so much for this site. I do have a question I hope you will answer. Do you think it makes a difference to specifically use the above Tooth Soap formula, rather than just a mixture of coconut/olive and essential oils?

Campbell-McBride, for example, recommends using just olive oil (backing soda optional). I wonder if there is a health benefit from the fact that the oils in the Tooth Soap are saponified...


Sarah Smith said...

I don;t think there is anything magical about Tooth Soap specifically; it's just more convenient but sure is pricey. I think Dr Natasha's recommendation sounds fine, too. I've never tried brushing my teeth with just oil; sounds interesting.

However, I have not done any research on whether or not saponification makes a difference, so I can't say for sure.