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What is Natural Toothpaste?

By Melissa King
Updated May 21, 2024
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Natural toothpaste is sometimes used as an alternative to traditional teeth cleaning products. Many people prefer the natural variety for its lack of chemical foaming, cleaning, and whitening agents. Natural toothpaste often contains plant and earth-based ingredients such as calcium, zinc, vegetable glycerin, and cranberry extract. Natural toothpaste generally does not use man-made ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate or propylene glycol, a synthetic petrochemical that is sometimes used in anti-freeze.

Most natural toothpastes use plant-based ingredients as foaming agents. One such ingredient is glycyrrhizin, an ingredient derived from licorice root. This compound is also 30 to 50 times sweeter than regular table sugar. Another foaming ingredient sometimes used in natural toothpaste is sodium cocoyl glutamate. This ingredient is chemically similar to sodium lauryl sulfate, but is made from the glutamate amino acid and coconut oil instead of synthetically created.

Natural toothpaste usually contains non-chemical sweetening ingredients, such as xylitol. Xylitol is a natural plant ingredient which is lightly sweet and helps inhibit and prevent plaque and cavities. Stevia is another possibility for natural sweetening. Stevia is a leafy plant that tastes much sweeter than sugar, but is claimed to be much healthier. Sorbitol, a corn-based sweetener, is also sometimes used. These ingredients are typically alternatives to traditional sweeteners, such as saccharin.

Whitening agents in natural toothpaste are typically plant and mineral-derived. Calcium carbonate, a substance derived from rocks and the shells of marine animals, is sometimes used as a whitener. Silica, often found as sand, is another ingredient sometimes used. Other ingredients may include bamboo powder or sodium fluoride, which is derived from the ore fluorspar. Such ingredients replace traditional whiteners such as calcium peroxide and carbamide peroxide, which are derived from hydrogen peroxide and animal urea.

Some natural toothpastes are fluoride-free. Fluoride helps to prevent cavities and tooth decay, but many consumers have become skeptical about its necessity in toothpaste. Fluoride has the potential to poison an individual if too much is swallowed. This can be especially dangerous when fluoride is used in children's toothpaste, since children often swallow toothpaste while brushing. Almost all traditional toothpastes contain fluoride, but many natural toothpaste producers make a fluoride-free version of their products.

Simple natural toothpaste can be made at home by combining common household ingredients. A mixture of baking soda, salt, water, and glycerin can be used just like a traditional toothpaste. Peppermint oil is often added to the mixture in order to improve flavor.

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Discussion Comments

By seag47 — On Jan 13, 2012

I tried natural toothpaste after years of brushing with an extremely minty one, and I loved it. I haven't used any other kind since I tested it two years ago.

It was so refreshing to put something made from natural ingredients in my mouth. I had gotten tired of the shockingly powerful taste of my chemically manufactured toothpaste, and I felt that surely it could not be good for my health to use it my entire life.

I got some natural toothpaste from my local health food store. I can taste the cranberry extract in it, and I feel almost like I'm brushing with a healthy granola paste!

By orangey03 — On Jan 12, 2012

@cloudel – As long as your kids aren't allergic to orange extract, this should be fine to use in your toothpaste. My daughter's teacher actually taught her class how to make natural toothpaste, and orange extract was one of the options for flavoring it.

The teacher sent each child home with a recipe for the toothpaste, so their parents could make it for them. All you need is water, salt, some type of flavoring, and baking soda.

I believe the ratio was one teaspoon each of salt and water to four teaspoons of baking soda. Basically, you just mash it all up in a bowl with the extract, and you're done.

By cloudel — On Jan 12, 2012

Has anyone here ever tried making your own toothpaste and flavoring it with orange extract? My kids are currently using citrus flavored store-bought toothpaste, but I would like to start making our own.

I know I won't be able to get them to use it without any incentive, and orange is their favorite flavor. I have some orange extract left over from the time I made truffles with it, and it is very potent. It only took a couple of teaspoons to flavor a batch of seventy-five truffles!

Because it is so powerful, I am concerned about its safety level. I don't want to be putting something in my kids' toothpaste that will burn them or make ulcers in their mouths!

By Oceana — On Jan 11, 2012

I remember when my mother made my sister and I brush our teeth with baking soda to save money. Our dad had just lost his job, and we were cutting corners in every direction.

I don't think she had considered using any type of extract or oil to flavor it. She was pretty shaken up and worried in those days, so all she did was mix up some baking soda with water and seal it in a carton.

We dipped our toothbrushes in it each night after dampening them with water. Then, we had to brush carefully, because the baking soda could be kind of rough on our little gums.

I was so glad when my dad found a new job and we went back to regular toothpaste. I looked forward to using the good tasting stuff that wasn't so abrasive every night for weeks to come, and I appreciate it to this day!

By drtroubles — On Jan 10, 2012

@Sara007 - You should try Tom's natural toothpaste for children. They offer versions both with fluoride and without. They also have a really good selection of flavors like strawberry, orange and mango.

My son loves orange and mango. Out of curiosity I gave his toothpaste a try and it actually tasted quite good. I think the company has done a good job of disguising the natural flavors which may be unpalatable to kids.

The toothpaste is a little more expensive than what you would find in stores but I think the quality makes it worth while. There are so many chemicals in regular toothpaste going natural just seems like a good choice.

By Sara007 — On Jan 09, 2012

Can anyone recommend some good natural toothpaste for kids that includes fluoride?

The last few times I have been to the store I haven't found anything that is a natural and fluoride toothpaste. I would like to keep the fluoride in my kids toothpaste because I have seen the results of countries that don't fluorinate their water and it isn't pretty.

I think besides the issue of fluoride I really need something that tastes good. My kids are pretty picky about the food they eat and the products they use. It can be a pain to accommodate them when it comes to flavors at times but if it keeps them brushing their teeth I will work with it.

By animegal — On Jan 08, 2012

My friend told me she had the best natural toothpaste and to give it a try. i honestly found it worked just as well as my regular toothpaste but I couldn't get past the taste. I found the toothpaste she gave me tasted a bit chalky which was a huge turn off.

I think for now I am going to stick with my ultra minty regular toothpaste brand. I would consider trying more natural toothpaste in the future but I would really need to find one that has a stronger taste. It seems to me that I have been so programmed to expect a certain flavor that anything else just isn't that appealing.

By SarahSon — On Jan 08, 2012

After trying several different kinds of natural toothpaste, I went back to my old standby. I couldn't find one that left my mouth feeling clean for very long. Within a couple minutes of brushing my teeth, they felt dirty again.

The same thing happened with I switched to a natural deodorant. Whatever I was using did not do a very good job, and I got tired of sweating and having marks on my clothes.

I am sure there are some good natural herbal toothpaste brands as this market seems to keep growing all the time. I just got tired of spending money trying to find one that worked for me.

By John57 — On Jan 08, 2012

I switched to a natural toothpaste because I wanted to save some money and find a better product. After I realized how much more expensive many of the natural toothpastes seemed to be, I started making my own.

I had always used a toothpaste that had baking soda in it, so was used to that texture and feeling. By adding essential oils to my toothpaste, I can change the taste from time to time.

I like a minty, fresh taste so will use either peppermint, wintergreen or spearmint. I have found that these actually leave my mouth feeling even more minty and refreshed than the toothpaste I used for many years.

I think the best natural toothpaste is one that you like the taste of, fits in your budget, and works like it is supposed to.

Since I began using my own toothpaste, my teeth look and feel just as good as ever. My dentist tells me to keep doing what I am because my teeth look great.

By sunshined — On Jan 07, 2012

@Ivan83 - I agree that the taste and texture of many natural toothpastes are not the same as 'regular' toothpaste.

I like to use an all natural toothpaste because I don't want to use artificial sweeteners and some of the other synthetic products that are included in many brands of toothpaste.

I recently began using Jason natural toothpaste that I have been pleased with. They have several different kinds, but I found one that uses spearmint that is very refreshing.

After using natural toothpastes for so many years, I find that regular toothpastes are much too sweet.

By Ivan83 — On Jan 07, 2012

I like the idea of using natural, organic toothpaste. But a lot of the different kinds I have tried have either a horrible flavor or a horrible consistency.

I think some of the most common natural toothpaste ingredients just don't taste as good as the mint and sweeteners they add to conventional toothpaste. I know that for most people this is the point but for me it is a big stumbling block. I struggle to brush regularly anyway. Having to spread a nasty paste around my mouth doesn't help any.

By gravois — On Jan 06, 2012

My brother believes that fluoride is terribly bad for your health so he always avoids tap water and uses nothing but natural toothpaste.

The whole idea sounds pretty wacky to me. I have been to places where they don't fluoridated the water and their oral health is much worse than ours. I think 70 years of case studies have shown that fluoride has only positive effects. But my brother is kind of stubborn and conspiratorial and so he holds out.

His teeth don't seem to be any worse off for not having it. But who knows what they will look like 40 years from now.

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