Thursday, September 20, 2007

No Matter the Color, All Toothpaste is "Blue"

Another Soapbox Moment: brought to you by baking soda.

This particular rant is on the topic of the "Bluing*" of toothpaste.

Reviling as I do all things artificial and overly marketed, I was recently on a quest for unadulterated toothpaste at my local Fred Meyer "Nutrition" Center.

• I don't want fluoride. (I prefer my dentifrice without extra chemicals, thanks.)

• I don't want fancy colors. (I happen to be allergic to food dye.)

• I don't want artificial flavors. (I don't expect the word "delicious" to enter my mind while I'm cleaning my chompers.)

• I don't need artificial sweeteners (I'm well enough endowed with insanity, I'll skip the neurotoxins, if you don't mind.)

I just want to clean my teeth without exposing myself to a bunch of crap I don't need.

You know what? Not even the supposed "healthy" toothpastes could offer me truly *clean* dental hygiene! Every one of them had carageenan, a thickener that just also happens to contain MSG. Oh, it's natural because it comes from seaweed, but it's still MSG!

Also, the new "wonder sweetener" is Xylitol. Don't be conned into believing this is the wholesome answer to Aspertame, folks. It may come from the bark of birch trees and be "natural" but it is still a sugar alcohol just like Sorbitol, its more recognizable, synthetic Evil cousin. If you react to Sorbitol, you will react to Xylitol. I know because I did.

All I want to know is: since when did cleaning your teeth require so much chemistry?

I recently gave this some serious thought and remembered a childhood overnight visit to my grandparents' house. At bedtime, I shuffled into the bathroom looking for the tube of Crest and Grannee** handed me a little, former cold cream jar full of white powder.

I looked at her sideways, of course. Where's the tube of goo? "What's this?" I asked with an undoubtedly puzzled look on my face.

"That's salt and soda. Just get your toothbrush a little wet, dip it in there good and brush your teeth like you do with toothpaste." she smiled down at me, pretty amused at watching the gears churning in my little noggin.

I complied, of course, and it was wretched to my unsuspecting juvenile taste buds, but, man, my teeth were clean!

It wasn't what I was used to, and the taste had come as a huge shock to me, but once my expectations were sufficiently adjusted, it wasn't horrible and actually felt more satisfying than the sicky-sweet saccharine aftertaste of the usual stuff.

Longing to recapture that healthy, fresh feeling, I looked online for some salt-and-soda-recipes. There are quite a few, but EDIT: this is the one I like.

I use sea salt in stead of table salt, which has its own inherent issues, and baking soda. I also add a little twist that has proven quite interesting... I wet my toothbrush with hydrogen peroxide. Each ingredient has properties that kill the bad bacteria, but leave the good stuff to happily flourish and do its job.

Beyond just cleaning my teeth, though, I've noticed the added bonus of whiteness. Makes perfect sense since I use baking soda to clean the stains out of my sink. Hydrogen peroxide, as any "suicide blond" can tell you, is great for safe bleaching while killing bad bacterial beasties.

No, my breath isn't minty fresh when I'm done brushing. It doesn't smell like anything. Just clean.

No, I don't get a sweet, minty hit while I brush, it's more mildly salty and fizzy, but it doesn't remotely resemble anything unpleasant, though I might put a drop or two of peppermint oil in the mix, just to add a little sass.

What I do have is an insanely inexpensive, good for my body, way to clean my teeth with absolutely no, stupid, non-recyclable packaging to discard.

Doesn't get much simpler or better than that, People!

Brush 'em if ya got em.

Peas, out.

*"Blue", you'll remember from my last Soapbox Moment is the term I have coined for food or products that have mutated into flashy, fake, brightly-colored floozified mockeries of their formerly wholesome selves.

**It is very much worth noting that my Grandmother had ALL her teeth until she was about 93, at which point, ONE decided it was time to retire from service and painlessly broke off. She could still chew meat with the best of 'em until her passing at 94.

Photo borrwed from Corbis.


Angelina said...

Alright, I'm intrigued. But I have to say that baking soda in my mouth makes me gag. (I've had Tom's Of Maine toothpaste with baking soda.)

I still might try it. Maybe with the peppermint oil. I love a minty finish.

My mom uses a natural tooth powder which I believe is baking soda based and I just have to say that her breath could really use some help.

Wendy said...

I'm going to try this again. I used to do it, but haven't for years. I currently use something from the health food store that's got tea tree and neem oils. Thanks for the reminder.

I also wanted to tell you that I nominated you for the 'Nice Matters' award

If you're interested in passing it along, you can stop by my site for the particulars.

Hope you have a great day.

plaidshoes said...

I couldn't believe this post b/c I have been on a similar quest! It is so hard to find a decent paste. I might try this, although I can already imagine what the kids will say. If you all find a good "mix" (like the peppermint oil) please pass it along - I would really be interested. This may be a stupid question - but is it ok for kids to have hydrogen peroxide in their mouths?

Lisa said...

I use Eco-Dent toothpowder in Lemon-Lime flavor. It is mainly baking soda. The only thing that worries me about it, which I haven't yet researched, is this ingredient: sodium lauryl sulfate (coconut derived). I know that SLS is normally a bad ingredient. But is all SLS equal? Is it all derived from coconut or is some derived from another source and therefore worse than coconut derived SLS? If it is all bad, why would a natural toothpowder that prides itself on not including uglies have SLS? For awhile I was using plain old natural soap (made by me) and that did a decent job but I felt the result was lacking just a bit from the absence of an abrasive ingredient, that is why I switched to this powder. I might give your recipe a try after I finish this bottle; if I ever finish it. I've been using it for at least two months and it's still very full.