Natural tooth care has never gone out of style and always been easy and a very cheap option here in Northern Thailand, where the pre-plastic-tube, old fashioned tooth powders are still readily available all over town and in most small villages.
I started using natural Thai tooth powder when I was pregnant with my now 15 year old daughter. Because I knew all about the dangers of chemical toothpastes? LOL. Heck no. I simply forgot our toothpaste on a visit to the Thai family home in Thung Saliam, and the local store (pre 7-11 days in the village!) only stocked the local tooth powder. But wowie!! It felt AMAZING, tasted great and was absurdly cheap. I was, and remain, converted.
Nearly 16 years on, after brushing 2-3 times day with it for a decade and now with my own tooth powder blend, I have great, healthy & strong teeth. People ask me constantly for the address of the dentist who does my teeth cleaning-whitening. LOL. I drink strong black coffee and red wine by preference. Most every day. :) I drink black tea. I have not been to a dentist in 16 years. I have no tooth ache, no black spots and just a great, white smile. This is me just last week, at Chiang Mai's Divali celebration:
and last year with my daughter:
My daughter's pretty white teeth? We're off to see the dentist soon for the first time in her life. Why? She still has half her milk teeth! LOL. At age 15 she still has only lost 9 teeth and we're not sure what to do about half a mouth still full of baby teeth and she'd like a pretty straight adult smile. Clearly our diet aimed at strong teeth and bones is working. :) But I digress...
Natural tooth care has always been on my radar in the nearly 17 years I have lived in Thailand, so I was initially THRILLED to see new, chewable toothpaste tabs popping up for sale in local health and zero waste stores. Let there be less plastic in the world!!
Doing without the plastic tube MUST be a great thing, right? Well only if the product inside being sold is clean, safe and natural too. And so I checked the ingredient lists of the products for sale in Thailand and consulted the Search Engine Fairies.
SAD TO REPORT that those trendy, new little "zero waste" chewable tooth tabs that are happily being sold as eco-friendly? They're very often not!
READ THE LABELS!!
Ingredients: Sodium Bicarbonate, Xylitol, Spearmint Flavor Powder,
Maltitol, Hydrated Silica, Peppermint Powder, Kaolin, Microcrystalline Celluloses, Sodium Cocoyl Glycinate, Sodium Fluoride, Menthol. Contain Sodium Fluoride 0.22% w/w (1000 ppm Fluoride)
Sidestepping the fluoride for a moment (as a few brands ARE fluoride free, although the ones I have seen on sale in Thailand all contained fluoride), what's the problem with that ingredient list?
- sodium cocoyl glutamate: not safe to swallow, don't want to think about it being absorbed through the mucosal skin, day after day.
- Spearmint flavor powder. NOT the same as spearmint powder. This is a chemically derived synthetic flavour.
- Hydrated Silica: an abrasive agent which damages tooth enamel and another nice word for sand.
- Maltitol: a synthetic sugar substitute. "After eating maltitol, some people experience stomach pains and gas. It also can act similarly to a laxative and cause diarrhea. The severity of these side effects depends on how much of it you eat and how your body reacts to it."
- Xylitol: a synthetic sugar substitute. Preliminary research suggests that prolonged exposure (as in daily tooth brushing or gum chewing) promotes tumour growth.
So what's the local, old-fashioned Thai tooth powder like and what's in it?
It looks like this, and you can find it in most Thai pharmacies, many Mom&Pop stores and some supermarkets, including Makro.
Yes, you can see the price marked on the pack, at the bottom. 15 baht. As in about USD $0.45.
What's in it?
The only unknown there is Borneol. LOL. Are you ready??
Borneol is a terpene in cannabis that plays a major role in traditional Chinese medicine. Commonly referred to as moxa, this terpenoid was used in China as early as the 1600's to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, lower anxiety, and cure heart disease.
So I brushed with this for about 12 years until the last few, when I changed it up a bit, having read more about the detoxing function of the tongue, and the importance of magnesium for healthy teeth. And to now I take 1 sachet of that old fashioned tooth powder, I put it into my blender and I ADD:
1 tablespoon pure Magnesium Chloride crystals
1 tablespoon of bentonite clay
1 teaspoon pure menthol crystals
1 tablespoon activated charcoal
I whiz to blend it and break up the magnesium and menthol crystals and store the powder in reusable screw top tins.
How to use?
FIRST: oil pulling for 5-10 mins with pure, cold pressed, extra virgin, coconut oil. Spit out only about half of it. The dip your damp toothbrush into the magic powder and brush thoroughly. Don't spit!! Swirl and swish and oil pull some more with the bentonite and charcoal working their detoxing, remineralizing magic. THEN spit and rinse.
You will be stunned at how intensely clean your whole mouth feels, and how FRESH and nice it tastes. No plastic packaging, cheap, and not only cleaning, but RE-MINERALIZING. Which is ultimately what matters most.
Please don't assume every new "natural" or so-called "zero-waste" product is good just because it's not in a plastic tube. Ask questions. Shop locally and save a small fortune. And be encouraged by cultures like the Thai culture which haven't thrown away all the old-fashioned products and which continue to quietly offer great, natural, healthy solutions for very little cost.
And don't forget that the best, natural tooth care starts with what you EAT. So grab yourself a crunchy, yummy organic apple, every day.
Blissed&Blessed in my Thai natural world. Smiling. :)
Originally published on my own blog, My Natural Thai Life - my personal and unapologetic view of the Thai natural world after 16 years here as a solo entrepreneurial mom. Connecting you with all things natural and Thai.