Dental care is an important part of health and wellbeing. How your teeth look, feel, and function has a huge influence on your quality of life. And when it comes to caring for them, natural products are often the best solution. Natural dental care includes a range of products produced sustainably and derived from nature. From toothpaste and toothbrushes to dental floss and toothpicks, there are lots of great natural ways to look after your teeth.
Let's review the long history of dental care, look at how to care for your teeth, and list the best natural dental products on the market today.
A Short History of Dental Care
The history of oral care and dentistry stretches back thousands of years. From home cleaning to medical practice, people have always understood the importance of looking after their teeth. Dentistry dates back to 7000 BC in the Indus Valley, and it's also noted in many ancient Sumerian, Egyptian, and Greek texts. The first dental practitioner was an Egyptian scribe called Hesy-Re, who lived around 2600 BC.
The first text devoted to dental health was published in 1530, and the field of oral care was established as a defined profession by the 1700s. It was around this time that modern dentistry took root, with a French surgeon called Pierre Fauchard publishing "The Surgeon Dentist, a Treatise on Teeth" in 1723. He was widely recognised as the father of modern dentistry, and his book put forward a comprehensive system for tooth care and treatment.
The following dental items have a long history of use across the world:
Home-based care hasn't always been part of dental hygiene, with the modern toothbrush first developed well into the Common Era. It came from China during the Tang Dynasty, which occurred in the later half of the first millennium. The first toothbrushes were made from natural materials like bone and bamboo; which were strong, effective, and biodegradable. The first commercial toothbrush came much later in 1780, and the electric toothbrush was invented in 1937. Natural toothbrushes are popular again, with sustainable materials providing a great alternative to wasteful plastic products.
Interestingly, toothpaste predates the toothbrush by a long way. There is evidence of homemade toothpaste from ancient Egypt around 3,000 - 5,000 BC, with the ingredient list including powdered ashes, myrrh, egg shells, and pumice. Various kinds of toothpaste have been made throughout human history, often from powdered ingredients made from orris-root, charcoal, Peruvian bark, and prepared chalk. A number of oils were added to these powders, including bergamot, lavender, and mint. Homemade toothpaste is on the rise again, along with commercial products made from natural ingredients.
Toothpicks and dental floss
The first domestic dental item was the toothpick, which dates back more than a million years. Wooden toothpicks are still around, including double-sided Perio Sticks made from natural biodegradable materials. Not only do these items help to remove food from your teeth, but they also help to stimulate your gums and remove plaque. Dental floss is a much more recent addition to the field of dental hygiene, coming into common use during the 19th century.
How to Look After Your Teeth Naturally
If you want to look after your teeth at home using 100% natural products, there are more options available than ever before. Despite the prevalence of plastic toothbrushes and artificial toothpaste, healthy natural alternatives are easy to find. You don't need unsustainable synthetic products to avoid the dental chair, as long as you follow these basic tips:
Brush your teeth often
Based on recommendations from the Australian Dental Association and pretty much everyone else, you should brush your teeth twice a day and change your toothbrush regularly. If you want to keep things natural, you should buy a toothbrush made from sustainable materials.
Use dental floss and picks
Along with regular brushing, you need to use dental floss to get rid of extra-small food particles. While lots of dental floss features plastic containers, you can buy sustainable products made from corn starch and choose wooden toothpicks sourced from sustainable plantations.
Eat a healthy natural diet
While it almost goes without saying, one of the best ways to look after your teeth is to pay close attention to your diet. Sugar is a major cause of tooth decay, so try to limit processed foods, avoid extra-sweet products, and limit your alcohol intake.
Visit your dentist regularly
Natural dental care is about buying ethical products and setting up natural hygiene routines at home. Dentists still play a crucial role, however, with regular check-ups recommended to help identify problems early and support long-term dental health.
Natural Dental Care Products
There are more natural dental care products on the market than ever before. From biodegradable toothbrushes and toothpicks to toothpaste made from charcoal, tea tree, and neem, you can avoid unwanted additives and keep your teeth looking fresh. Many of the natural ingredients used in these products have been applied for hundreds of years, and others represent exciting new research into dental care.
Before we look at natural toothpaste products, it's important to understand the active and non-active ingredients used in standard commercial toothpaste. Conventional toothpaste typically has three active parts: anti-caries agents to enhance remineralisation, anti-hypersensitivity agents to reduce sensitivity, and antimicrobial agents to prevent plaque. In addition, they may also include abrasive elements, detergents, flavours, peroxide, and binding agents.
Natural toothpaste avoids the common artificial ingredients used in most conventional toothpaste. This can include artificial sweeteners, flavouring, and colours, along with sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and parabens. Many natural products also leave out fluoride, which is a controversial anti-caries agent that helps to repair tooth decay. While the Australian Dental Association recommends fluoride, excessive consumption of this naturally occurring mineral can have a negative impact on your overall health.
The following ingredients are popular in natural toothpaste products:
- Baking soda is abrasive and naturally alkaline, and it helps to remove stains and neutralise pH levels in your mouth.
- Charcoal helps to remove accumulated plaque, absorb enamel stains, and push up the pH level of the oral cavity.
- Coconut oil has natural antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties; and it protects against cavities.
- Neem is a bitter-tasting herb with great cleansing qualities. It is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory in nature.
- Guar gum is made from powdered pea plant. It acts as a thickening agent to keep other ingredients stable.
- Whitening agents like turmeric and diatomaceous earth are effective, and they aid with the remineralisation process.
- Remineralisation agents include chocolate, crushed cacao nibs, bentonite clay, calcium powder, and magnesium powder.
- Flavouring agents include stevia, xylitol, spices like mint and cloves, and essential oils like tea tree and peppermint.
When it comes to toothbrushes, sustainability is the most important factor. While toothbrush bristles do come into contact with your mouth, and tiny amounts of material can be consumed over time, it's the manufacture and disposal of plastic that should cause you the most concern.
Natural toothbrush products are typically made from biodegradable materials, including bamboo and corn starch. They may also feature bristles infused with charcoal and other natural ingredients, along with sustainable packaging. With landfill growing all the time and ocean waste a serious issue, there is no need to use environmentally harmful plastic toothbrushes.
Dental floss and toothpicks
Some natural dental care companies have branched out into dental floss and toothpicks. While most dental floss features plastic containers and synthetic nylon filaments, natural products made from biodegradable silk thread coated with plant-based wax are also available. You can also buy dental floss products made with sustainable corn starch containers.
When it comes to toothpicks, you can choose between plastic and wooden versions. While they're preferable to plastic in many ways, traditional wooden toothpicks are often sourced from problematic plantations. As an alternative, Perio Sticks are made from eco-certified Nordic birch harvested sustainably in Scandinavia.
DIY Oral Care
If you want complete control over your dental care, you can make many dental care products at home from basic ingredients. While not many people have the skills and motivation to manufacture their own toothbrushes, mixing your own toothpaste is relatively easy. The ingredients listed above are a great place to start; and you can personalise your toothpaste with different herbs, spices, essential oils, and other flavours. However, while making your own toothpaste at home is simple, commercial products from ethical companies normally have a much better texture and more refined flavour.
If you're looking for natural dental care products without compromise, Healthy Being has everything you need. We have a huge selection of natural toothpaste, sustainable toothbrushes, and Perio Sticks to help you avoid the dentist's chair. As the leading health food store in Australia, we also have a great selection of natural sweeteners and organic foods to help you avoid tooth decay in the first place. So check out our website today and enjoy free shipping options across Australia and worldwide delivery!