Oral Health Basics, Naturally

Dentists.  That word gives a lot of people the heebie-jeebies.  Thankfully, I grew up going to a small-town dentist who was kind and funny and never made me feel an ounce of fear.  He was married to my high school government teacher and the dad of a school friend.  Such is life in Mayberry USA.

Thanks, in part, to Dr. J., I have always been conscientious of my oral health habits.  I’ve always brushed my teeth.  I floss religiously.  But, as we know, all the prevention in the world doesn’t guarantee perfection.  Over the last several years, two different dentists diagnosed me with severe gingivitis.  I insisted that I brushed, flossed, and swished with mouthwash daily.  I kind of think they doubted me because every six months I still got the remedial brushing video.

So, after a deep cleaning or scaling or whatever they call it, I decided their way obviously wasn’t working, which might have been their plan all along.  Anyone ever consider that dentists stand to lose a lot if you actually improve your oral health?  Maybe it’s all a conspiracy.  Move over JFK.

I decided to chunk conventional oral health habits for something alternative, the politically correct way of saying off-the-wall.  Instead of toothpaste with chemicals, I made my own.  Instead of mouthwash with alcohol and chemicals, I made my own.  I also heard of this really weird thing called oil-pulling, and I thought, “why not?”  So, I did that, too.  For four months I did it my way.  I didn’t figure it could get much worse, and it certainly was cheaper.

I went to the dentist last month, and the verdict was unequivocally positive.  I had only two small pockets of bacteria, whereas I’d had 30 or so in February.  I even had a lot fewer “borderline” areas.  Pretty impressive, as far as I’m concerned.  So, here is what I do.

First, I started using soft toothbrushes.  The hard ones, and even the medium ones, erode the gum-line, especially if you get a little heavy-handed with them.  This is a case where more is not better.

toothpasteSecond, I made my own toothpaste.  There are quite a few recipes on the Internet, but I wanted to stay pretty basic here.  I mix coconut oil and baking soda in a 1:2 ratio.  In other words, 1 tbsp. oil to 2 tbsp. baking soda.  I chose coconut oil because it has natural anti-bacterial properties.  To this mixture, I add 2-3 drops Thieves oil, and about 10 drops peppermint oil.  Thieves Oil is the brand name of a Young Living’s germ fighter blend.  It is named for a blend of essential oils purportedly used by thieves in the Middle Ages to protect themselves from germs while they looted the bodies of the dead.  Gives you a warm, cuddly feeling, huh?  Peppermint is more than just for taste.  It is also a natural anti-bacterial oil.  I mix all this together and store in a glass half-pint jar.  It takes less than 5 minutes to make, is almost free, and lasts for about two weeks.  Seriously easy.

Note: In the summer, I use a little more baking soda, and in the winter I use a little more coconut oil.  Coconut oil turns solid at room temperature in the winter, but stays very soft, or even melted, in the summer.  I want to keep my mixture on the soft side, but not liquidy.  That’s why I adjust the ratio slightly depending on the season.

Third, I floss.  I’ll admit that the fine art of flossing escaped me for a while.  I used it primarily to make sure there wasn’t any leftover food between my teeth.  Gross!  Then, I realized there is really a correct way to do it to better clean along the gum-line.  Look it up.  I’m sure there is a YouTube video for that.  mouthwash

Fourth, I rinse with homemade mouthwash twice a day.  This is even easier than the toothpaste!  I pour about 4 oz. distilled water into a pint jar, add 2 tsp. baking soda, 2 drops Thieves oil, and about 15-20 drops peppermint oil. The strength is a personal preference, but I warn you, you might feel like a fire-breathing dragon if you use too much.

Finally, my really over-the-top weirdness ritual is oil-pulling.  I use coconut oil, since my primary motivation is to fight bacteria.  Others report good results with Extra Virgin Olive Oil for plaque.  I don’t do this daily , but I should probably do it weekly.  I take about a teaspoon or so of oil and swish it around my mouth for 15 minutes.  This is a personal preference again, and something you might have to work up to.  First, I did 5 minutes, then 10.  I tried to go to 20 minutes, the most recommended, but I just couldn’t.  Fifteen works for me.  Anyway, I swish this oil around in my mouth and then spit it in the trash can.  Don’t swallow it!  It’s full of all that bacteria and yucky stuff you were getting off your teeth.  Rinse your mouth with warm water, then brush.  That’s it!

By the way, oil-pulling is also touted as a natural detoxifier.  That’s the kind of side-effect I like.

My husband refused to try my homemade stuff, but he finally got caught in a pinch without toothpaste and decided to make do for a few days.  Now, he uses both the toothpaste and mouthwash.  I may have to make him his own jars.  Just this week, I even made it for my kids.  I don’t know if they will be able to do it, especially with the peppermint.  I may have to try a different flavor.

All in all, this experiment in improving my oral health has been very successful.  I can easily save $100 annually on mouthwash and toothpaste for a family of seven.  That might not sound like much, but it adds up.

Tell me any oral health tricks you’ve learned or share your toothpaste/mouthwash recipes.


I am not a dentist or trained dental professional.  Therefore, I am not prescribing any method which will miraculously fix any dental problem.  I’m simply sharing my anecdotal, real-life experience.  If you have oral health problems, do your own research and make your own choices.

I am a Young Living distributor.  I do not have any affiliate links to purchase their oils, but if you’re interested contact me directly to order.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

3 thoughts on “Oral Health Basics, Naturally

  1. I was ready to ask what brand of oils you like best until I got to the end. Tell me what you like about them? I’ve wanted to buy some for a long time now but just haven’t made the jump. Is it cost? effectiveness? reputation?

    • I’ll probably do a post on essential oils soon, but in a nutshell I’ve used several different brands. There is consideration to be given to quality, and that’s a somewhat complicated question. I believe EOs to be pretty effective with fewer undesirable side effects than over the counter medications (or prescriptions, for that matter). They are not cheap. In fact, if they’re too cheap, don’t buy them. The reason is that it takes a boatload of plants to distill an ounce of essential oil. That factor, alone, drives the price up. Then, you have to think about the quality of the plants, which further affects the price. I signed up with Young Living to take advantage of their wholesale pricing. They also have a unique approach to qualifying the potency of their oils. I recommend starting with peppermint and lavender oils. They are both very versatile, especially during cold season.