Dental trend spotlight: DIY toothpaste

Some DIY fans are ditching store-bought toothpaste for homemade substitutes. Before you whip up your own, consider the oral health implications and what you might be giving up.

DIY toothpaste recipes vary widely, but typical ingredients include coconut oil, baking soda, sea salt, cacao nibs and essential oils. Proponents of homemade toothpastes claim they provide greater ingredient transparency. Because users make these recipes from scratch, they can see exactly what they’ll be brushing with. However, you can rest assured that almost all the toothpastes you see in stores have been reviewed and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The big question is, “Does DIY toothpaste clean teeth as well as store-bought?” Research may be limited, but one study1 showed that it can when it comes to plaque removal. The problem is, when you brush with DIY toothpaste, you miss out on the benefits of fluoride. Fluoride exposure from toothpaste, drinking water and other sources is largely responsible for the huge decline in tooth decay over the past several decades.

Store-bought toothpastes contain the proper amounts of fluoride to fight tooth decay, so replacing them with DIY toothpastes can cause a significant deficiency in fluoride exposure. In addition to fluoride, toothpastes may contain active ingredients that help in other ways, such as reducing tooth sensitivity, whitening teeth, fighting gingivitis and tartar buildup, and preventing enamel erosion and bad breath.

Our verdict: Stick with store-bought toothpaste to maintain adequate levels of fluoride exposure.

1IOSR Journal of Dental and Medical Science, Comparison Between Homemade Toothpaste and Commercial Toothpaste in Plaque Removal of Children in Udaipur City Rajasthan, 2017, https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/fbb4/a9fe8bd96dfb7f01642df9810af7ced208ad.pdf