Growing up, my mother was a heavy tea drinker. She was a late-nighter, early-riser, daycare-runner, get-the-girls-ready-for-school-enforcer, breakfast-maker, work-at-home-mommer and she LOATHED the taste of coffee. So, she drank tea. As a result, her pearly whites needed a bit of help maintaining their sparkle, and I remember watching her scoop baking soda onto her toothbrush after she was through using her toothpaste. She scrubbed off the stains effortlessly. (She also had about 600 other uses for baking soda, but we’ll save that for another post.)
I tried the same tooth-whitening technique when I became a coffee addict. By the age of 18 I was making iced coffees in the kitchen of my apartment, stopping by the coffee shop on my way to work, then again on my trip from work to college, then from college to the sewing lab on Market Street. I worked full-time hours, overloaded my classes, tutored students in my ‘free time’ and loved every minute of my hectic, over-achieving lifestyle in Center City, Philadelphia. It became clear that I was in dangerous territory when the entire Dunkin Donuts staff learned my name, my coffee order and often had it ready for my predictable visits. I also realized that I couldn’t relax when I tried, and I felt my heart rate escalate from time to time, so I have cut down dramatically on my coffee consumption. Back to teeth-
When I tried using baking soda and water on my toothbrush, it felt very abrasive. My teeth are naturally on the soft side and I grind my teeth in my sleep (Maybe too much information here?) so I absolutely can’t take any more harshness that may damage my tooth enamel.
I started using a popular brand of whitening toothpaste, but after a few weeks of use I noticed that my teeth were EXTREMELY sensitive. If you’ve never experienced tooth sensitivity, imagine a throbbing sensation in the root of your tooth that makes your entire mouth feel like it’s in shock. It’s no party. My dentist told me with certainty that the whitening toothpaste was the culprit. I switched to a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. While that seemed to make a difference as far as the discomfort, I happened to glance over the label one day and I was bothered by the long list of “active” and “inactive” ingredients. I like simple. Natural. Pure. Especially when it comes to something I’m putting in my mouth or on my skin. (Don’t even get me started about food!)
I found a recipe online for a homemade toothpaste made from coconut oil and baking soda. Naturally, I made a few modifications and made it my very own. I didn’t want to use the stevia (sugar+teeth=cavities) and I didn’t have any vegetable glycerin on hand (chances are, neither do you).
I combined 3 tablepoons of Coconut Oil (Organic, Unrefined, by Better Body Foods. Found it at Sam’s Club.)
with 3 tablepoons of baking soda (it wasn’t nearly as abrasive when mixed with coconut oil)
and 1-2 teaspoons of sea salt, then added pure peppermint extract.
Just stirred it up with a plastic baby fork and it became a paste-like consistency.
The tupperware container now sits in my medicine cabinet where the other tube used to be. I’ve been using it for three days, and I can’t say my teeth are whiter yet but they will be eventually. Baking soda always worked for my mom, and I can definitely get on board with it this way. My teeth feel smoother than they did after brushing with store-bought toothpaste, and I LOVVVVVE that there are only 4 ingredients which were freshly mixed up just days ago, by moi.
Take 5 minutes and make some of your own and see what you think. Once my kids run out of their expensive, strawberry flavored, natural + fluoride toothpaste, I will see how they do with the homemade alternative. I ❤ home remedies, and this one is an obvious winner. I haven’t done the math, but I will assume that it will save some money and time wasted searching through the dental hygiene aisles.