This is a topic I have been meaning to address for some time. I'll start by saying I am not giving medical advice here, nor am I discouraging anyone from seeking dental care if they need it. I will share the story of how I suffered from gum recession and the painful tooth sensitivity that accompanies the condition.
You can't turn on the news without hearing about interruptions in the supply chain. The information I will share will teach you how to use a few simple ingredients, many of which are inexpensive and have multiple purposes to ensure you have an effective way to maintain oral hygiene should commercial toothpaste become difficult or impossible to obtain. Or, if like me, you abandon it entirely. In this article I will provide links for the various ingredients I have used to make my own oral health products; they will take you to my Amazon Affiliate account and will help support my work. I appreciate anyone using the links provided.
My Teeth Were Killing Me
For years I suffered from the pain and sensitivity resulting from gum recession. I'm not sure what caused it; perhaps overzealous brushing or, as some dentists said (when selling $200 mouth guards) I was clenching my jaws in my sleep. I bought the mouth guards, special toothpastes, and had my teeth cleaned 4 times a year. None if it worked. Finally I was referred to an oral surgeon who recommended skin graft surgery; skin would be removed from the roof of my mouth and used to replace the tissue lost due to gum recession. I was told the procedure would be painful and expensive (at least $4,000 and that was about 15 years ago).
Diatomaceous Earth is a powder made from the sediment of fossilized single-celled organisms called diatoms. It is an excellent source of silica, a natural compound found in rocks, clays and sands. Food grade DE has many health benefits, but here I will focus on how it solved my painful teeth and gum issues.
I first heard of DE when I started gardening and wanted to find non-toxic methods for keeping insects from damaging my crop. When I attended my first survival school, one class was called "Take the DE Challenge" and we were given a bag to consume over 30 days. The many health benefits of consuming DE are beyond the scope of this writing, but what caught my attention was when the instructor said DE was good for your teeth. She told a story about her friend who was about to have her cat's teeth pulled by her veterinarian; she begged her friend for ONE week of brushing its teeth with DE. The experiment was a success, and the cat loved the brushing so much it would go to the sink and wait for the cleaning to begin. Not one tooth needed to be pulled.
I had an appointment with my dentist the same week, and I started brushing with DE the night I received my bag. After a single use, I went in for my appointment and the hygienist immediately asked what I was doing differently, as the inflammation was gone. I told her I was brushing with DE and the dentist warned me not to use it, as it was abrasive and would damage my enamel. I decided to complete my challenge, and when I had my next appointment, I experienced NO sensitivity or pain during the procedure. I stopped using the commercial toothpastes that had failed me for years and started brushing with DE exclusively. Ten years later, my teeth and gums are pain free and healthy and no longer bleed. I rarely see a dentist and when I do go, he tells me there really isn't much for him to do. The DE does a great job keeping my teeth clean, gums healthy, and there is zero indication it has harmed the enamel.
If you want to try DE, you must ONLY use the food grade product. You can order it here. One word of caution: DE is a lung and eye irritant, so be careful and avoid breathing it into your lungs when working with it and wash any you may get on your hands off so you don't get any in your eyes. An industrial form of DE is used in pool filters. This is not what you want to use, so check for the words "FOOD GRADE" on any you acquire.
Create Your Own Oral Care Products
It's been ten years since I took the DE challenge, and the only time I use commercial toothpaste is if I am away from home. I decided to do some research and see what other ingredients can be used and added more to my tooth "powder."
In addition to DE, I have added the following ingredients to my oral health program. You can omit any or blend any combination and blend it in any ratio you desire. Experiment, have fun, and enjoy the benefits.
Baking Soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is naturally found in crystalline form but is ground to a fine powder for use in cooking. I love to acquire products that are inexpensive and can perform multiple functions, and baking soda is a perfect example. I use it in my tooth powder to assist in cleaning and odor control, baking, and for making household cleaners. It also helps in getting skunk spray off pets.
Calcium Carbonate: is another abundant compound and it is formed from the mining of limestone. I have found this helpful for reducing tooth sensitivity. It is odorless and tasteless and you can order it by clicking on my affiliate link.
Activated Charcoal is carbon that has been processed to the point it has increased surface area to absorb chemicals. It is frequently used to treat for situations where poison has been ingested. It is also used to whiten teeth, so here's another product that is fairly inexpensive and has more than one use. You can order it here.
Coconut Oil: this oil comes from the fruit of the coconut palm. I prefer to purchase organic, cold processed and centrifuge expressed. I love to use it in cooking, particularly baking, and it is a fantastic skin moisturizer. You can use it as a base if you prefer not to brush with a powder. It becomes solid when it is cool, so be sure it is warm enough to mix in whatever other ingredients you wish to add, at whatever consistency you prefer. Some people use it for a process called "oil pulling" where you put some in your mouth and keep it there for up to 20 minutes. This is supposed to help remove stains.
Essential Oils: these oils are obtained by distillation and have the fragrance of the plant from which they were extracted. Some people like to add them as they lend a pleasant scent to the powder. I have not added them, but I plan to add some fresh mint leaves to a batch of powder. I will put the chosen ingredients in a food processor and see how that turns out. I'll update this post after I've made it.
When I was teaching my boys why brushing their teeth was so important, I would explain that the mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body. If the mouth is dirty and diseased, that can cause disease in your vital organs. When I started experiencing issues with my teeth and gums, years of traditional dental care did not help me at all. Even if you don't have the issues I did, keep in mind that products we have been taking for granted are getting harder to find and more expensive. The more you can make for yourself, the less reliant you will be on our already overtaxed supply chain.
I hope you find this information useful. Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or would like to share your results. For more on preparedness please check out our podcast and book. If you would like to support our work, please consider making a donation; you can do so on the homepage of this website, or on the link to Red Hot Chilly Prepper podcast.