It may seem that we don't need another recipe for homemade toothpaste here at Nourishing Joy, but I decided to share this reworking of our usual toothpaste that I make specifically for our kiddos because it has a few small but significant changes to the original recipe and I thought they might be helpful for you all too. 🙂
First of all, though, let's review what any good children's toothpaste MUST do – homemade, store-bought, or otherwise:
- scrub off plaque and food residue without scratching the tooth’s enamel
- make the mouth an inhospitable place for bacteria
- invigorate and stimulate healthy gums
- avoid toxic ingredients, especially if the children are very young and have the habit of swallowing toothpaste
Optimally, a toothpaste will also:
- whiten and polish the teeth (again, without damaging the enamel)
- strengthen the tooth itself and assist in remineralizing the tooth to fill in cavities and abcesses (read more about remineralization)
So, there are a few reasons I list this recipe specifically as a CHILDREN'S homemade toothpaste:
Squeezable – need I say more? Requiring kids to scoop a reasonable amount out of a jar without making a mess is more trouble than it's worth. 🙂
Helps kids grow strong teeth – This recipe adds glycerin as an optional ingredient (which is not in the original recipe).
Generally in natural/alternative health circles, glycerin is considered a highly undesirable ingredient because it coats kids' teeth like a sheath and doesn't allow them to remineralize properly (or at least quickly). However, I see glycerin as an appropriate emergency measure. When a child's baby teeth are so soft that they rot just by thinking about sugar, even when there's not much sugar in the child's diet and the child brushes well, I see glycerin as a sometimes-necessary shield as part of a temporary measure while other healing protocols are in place to help the child's teeth strengthen.
Removes xylitol from the recipe – I'm okay using xylitol topically (which is why it's in our standard toothpaste recipe), but I'm not okay with recipes that call for ingesting xylitol, so when young children have a propensity for swallowing their toothpaste, I'd prefer not to use xylitol in a children's recipe. As an optional substitute, you can use green powdered stevia (avoid the white version) or stevia extract, but I typically find that the added flavors make up for a lack of sweetness and balance the bitterness of the baking soda.
Flavors kids love WITHOUT essential oils – Kids are crazy about flavors! It seriously makes a difference to make toothpaste with a cool flavor. However, essential oils are not necessarily the way to go here. Let me explain.
I LOVE essential oils and use them regularly in our home. However, INGESTING essential oils – either by swallowing or absorbing them through the gums – can be a big deal. (This doctor explains so well about ingesting essential oils and children.)
Let me say this clearly: You should always be cautious with essential oils, but super-hyper-cautious when you use them with children under the age of six and especially when they might be swallowed. I don't care what brand you're using or which even which oil – you must exercise extra caution when using essential oils with children! That doesn't mean you CAN'T use essential oils in this toothpaste (for example, OraWellness' HealThy Mouth Blend), but since this toothpaste is specifically for young children, I prefer to recommend other alternatives.
Extracts are your best bet, such as peppermint, lemon, or cinnamon (either homemade or high-quality store-bought versions are fine), but flavor gels (like the kind bakeries use) can also work.
HOWEVER – warning – if you're going to use a flavoring rather than an extract, read your labels carefully and know that there's no perfect solution on this one – chemical preservatives (such as propylene glycol) and artificial flavors tend to abound, so weigh that when you're deciding to make your toothpaste in your daughter's favorite bubble gum or strawberry flavor (this brand at least doesn't have artificial dyes).
Personally, I prefer to stick to extracts and right now our kids' favorites are lemon-lime and boring old peppermint, but for a short while they loved the chocolate flavor I made with chocolate extract….
Also, I do encourage you to use the optional clay in this recipe. I've written more about why in this article, “10 Reasons Clay Should Be in Every Mama's Cupboard.”
Now, the most savvy among you may notice that I recommend I homemade extracts and high-quality extracts – which are made of vodka or other high-proof alcohols. You'll also notice that I actually call for additional vodka in the recipe as well. This is not craziness on my part, I assure you, even though this is a toothpaste for children. 🙂
This is because using water to thin the toothpaste in order to make it squeezable shortens its shelf-life considerably, since water breeds bacteria, but using alcohol acts as a preservative. (You can still use water if you want, you'll just want to use it up within a few days.)
And honestly, if you use most commercial mouthwashes, the exposure to alcohol or its derivatives is much higher than in this toothpaste. Since the vodka makes up about one-tenth of the ingredients and there are at least 20 “doses” of toothpaste, your child will have no more than 1/20th of a tablespoon – that's a little more than 1/8th of a teaspoon – in his or her mouth at a time along with all the other ingredients. (And theoretically, they'll be spitting most of it out.)
So I'm totally comfortable with this, but if you're not, again, just use water instead and use the toothpaste up within a few days. 🙂
So, without ado, here's our favorite homemade children's toothpaste!
(By the way, if you have tips for teaching young children how to brush their teeth WELL, I'm looking for all the tips I can get, so please leave them in the comments!)
- 2 tablespoons calcium carbonate
- 1 tablespoon bentonite clay OR additional calcium carbonate
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil, softened but still solid
- 1/2 teaspoon glycerin (optional)
- 1 tablespoon vodka or water, more as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon of the flavor extract of choice, more as desired
- Whisk together the dry ingredients: the calcium carbonate, clay, and baking soda. Using a fork, blend in the coconut oil and glycerin until uniform. Add the vodka and the extracts and use a whisk to stir it very briskly and beat until smooth. Spoon into a sqeezable tube (like this one) or this super-brilliant DIY toothpaste tube and use within 1 month.
- Alternatively, place all ingredients together in a small blender or mini-food processor and blend until very smooth.