Natural Toothpaste – Then and Now
In the 1700s, there was a version of natural toothpaste made from a mixture of “dragon’s blood”, cinnamon, and a salt called burn alum. While advances in dental care over the ages have certainly brought about less pain and suffering and more bright smiles, today a combination of technology and tradition can form the foundation of a healthy, natural teeth and gum care regime.
Many traditional dental care practices are being revived in the form of natural, alternative, holistic oral care products. Meanwhile, the fluoride controversy continues to rage. Many health experts warn against using fluoride, citing links to bone and joint deterioration, bone cancer, damaged immune systems, and various neuropsychiatric disorders. Some countries actually prohibit the use of fluoride. For example, India does not allow toothpaste containing it to be sold for the use of young children. Nonetheless, many recommend that anyone preferring to use a natural toothpaste as part of a natural teeth and gum care system ensure the toothpaste has fluoride.
Overall, however, if the purpose of toothpaste is to clean teeth and to help maintain healthy teeth and gums, one doesn’t need to rely solely on commercial brands. In terms of natural ingredients, propolis, a natural product produced by the honey bee, has been successfully used in medicine as an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agent. Studies have supported the hypothesis that it may prove useful as a medicament to reduce resorption associated with traumatic injuries to the teeth.
Neem has also been shown to be a most effective gum disease treatment. In a German study of 70 patients with pyorrhea (inflammation of the gums and tooth sockets) of varying stages, after just five to ten treatments with a neem-based toothpaste and mouthwash, there was significant improvement. Scientists believe that antibacterial compounds and neem’s ability to improve the immune response in the gums and tissues of the mouth account for these results. For centuries, people in Africa, India, and nearby Muslim countries have improvised toothbrushes from torn off twigs referred to as “chew sticks.” They’re made from twigs of the Salvadore Persica tree, but white oak also seem to work. Tests have shown that these sticks contain natural antibiotics, fluoride, and other anti-cavity components.
In Norway, farmers chew on solid whey to prevent cavities, whiten teeth, and to prevent gum disease. Many Arabs, Native Americans, and South Asians rub their teeth with sage leaves to cleanse teeth and freshen breath. You can make your own peppermint natural toothpaste by combining one teaspoon of baking soda or powdered strawberry roots with two drops of peppermint oil and water to make a paste.
Instead of mouthwash to sweeten breath, chew on fresh parsley, anise seeds, or watercress, or use lavender water, a peppermint infusion, rosewater, or rosemary. For a toothache, apply a few drops of clove oil. You may not be able to perform your own root canal, but regularly performing a natural teeth and gum care regimen may save you many trips to the high-tech dentist’s office for more drastic remedies.