A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Is homemade toothpaste better for brushing?

Bowl of homemade toothpaste and a toothbrush - Dental trend: Homemade toothpaste

Baking soda is a key ingredient in homemade toothpaste but beware of harsh ingredients like hydrogen peroxide.

More people are making their own hygiene products, including toothpaste. They want natural products that don’t have certain ingredients they’ve heard may be harmful, like sulfates and triclosan.

Preparing homemade toothpaste could have some benefits, but you risk doing your teeth more harm than good, said Dr. Aaron Mertz, a Marshfield Clinic dentist.

You may brush your teeth more

“People get excited about making their own toothpaste,” Mertz said. “They start brushing more to show off their good results.”

For people who haven’t been brushing often or well enough, making their own toothpaste can be a positive step toward paying more attention to their dental health.

Homemade toothpaste recipes usually include baking soda, an ingredient widely used in commercial toothpaste that effectively cleans and whitens teeth when used in small quantities.

Despite these benefits, making your own toothpaste has its downsides.

Don’t skip the fluoride

Homemade toothpaste is missing one important ingredient for dental health: Fluoride.

Things you read online that say fluoride causes health problems are not true,” Mertz said. “Adding fluoride to toothpaste is a safe and economical way to help teeth stay healthy by preventing decay.”

Some people who use homemade toothpaste may notice more cavities after they remove fluoride toothpaste from their daily routine. Mertz recommends using toothpaste with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance to make sure you’re getting a safe product that fights tooth decay. Some natural toothpaste brands offer products with fluoride.

Beware of harsh ingredients

Baking soda is safe and effective for cleaning teeth, but quantity is key. Using too much baking soda can wear away tooth enamel. If your teeth start to look yellow after brushing with homemade toothpaste, you’ve worn away enamel and reached the dentin layer of your teeth.

“Losing enamel compromises tooth health down the road,” Mertz said. “Tooth enamel never regenerates. Once it’s lost, it’s gone forever.”

Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are two ingredients you should completely avoid in your toothpaste recipe. Acids wear away at the harder materials in your tooth enamel.

“You see the same results as you do in someone who drinks a lot of soda,” Mertz said.

Hydrogen peroxide can be safe for whitening teeth if applied professionally, but swishing with it or adding it to homemade toothpaste can irritate your gums and kill gum tissue.

Talk to your dentist if your teeth feel sensitive or your gums hurt or look red and inflamed after switching to homemade toothpaste.

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