It had been four years since I was at the dentist. And in that time I completely changed how I take care of my teeth. No more toothpaste. Recyclable toothbrushes. Reusing floss. It was a test. Could the most sustainable path also be the healthiest?

Vindication. The answer was a resounding ‘hell yes’. The dental assistant was extremely impressed with my teeth and the dentist spent just a few minutes with me. A quick inspection and then a clean bill of health. Best of all, neither of them noticed that I wasn’t using toothpaste. It was as if toothpaste didn’t matter…

I was worried that dropping toothpaste would irreparably damage my teeth. Nope. My teeth are better than ever, even after four years!

I didn’t set out to do this. I only wanted a recyclable toothpaste tube. I’m trying to live zero waste and I needed a way to not landfill those toothpaste tubes. All my research revealed that the toothpaste industry doesn’t care about recycling. None of them were making, or even considering making, a recyclable tube.

It seemed like the only option was to make my own toothpaste. Baking soda & coconut oil – are the best options. And a sprig of mint or something similar for taste. That seemed like the ideal solution, until I found this random thread on the internet. For every 2-3 blogs I found with homemade recipes I would find one talking about ditching toothpaste. Each one with a similar story to mine, “I wanted something healthy for my children, so I tried homemade, then tried nothing, and my kids teeth improved!”

Very strange. I never considered getting rid of toothpaste. I thought it was the main cleaning agent. But the more I researched it, the more it became clear. The simple act of brushing and flossing does everything you need. Toothpaste was near useless, in some ways bad. Why add all those chemicals if you don’t need them?

Remove tartar and plaque or whiten your teeth. You don’t need chemicals for that. During my dentist visit I was so interested in my teeth that I almost exasperated the dental assistant with my questions. We went into the finer mechanics of brushing, proper care of the gums, how to prevent tartar and plaque, and even how to keep your teeth white if you’re a coffee drinker.

Through all that, toothpaste never came up. It was weird. The dentist indirectly agreed with me. You can do everything your teeth need, without toothpaste. So why use toothpaste?

Well, the other side to this debate is fluoride. Most dentists agree that fluoride is very helpful for cleaning teeth. But we only need a tiny amount and not all the time. Maybe once or twice a week. And it turns out that water in America is treated with fluoride. So we are getting regular doses of fluoride on our teeth. Which has ignited a public health debate about the value of the cleaner water vs the effects of fluoride on our bodies.

So why then does toothpaste have more fluoride in it – because it cleans teeth. And it is just as unnecessary as all forms of toothpaste. So why not join me, ditch the toothpaste, save your money, and experience cleaner teeth.

If you do try it, here are some tips:

  • Get some baking soda – keep it handy. About once a month I use that on my teeth for a full “bleaching”. But don’t overuse – it wears down your teeth.
  • Floss every day – single greatest threat to your teeth, so my dentist says.
  • In between your teeth is a triangle space – cover that space by flossing up/down on the inside of each tooth.
  • When flossing go into the gums a little – keeps ’em clean and strong.
  • Brush your teeth by completing tiny circles with the brush – don’t use long back and forth movements that is the least effective method of brushing.
  • After you drink coffee – drink some water to prevent the coffee from sticking.


Photo by Robert S. Donovan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *