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Natural Homemade Toothpaste & Mouthwash Recipes on a Budget

By Heather Levin

woman mouth washAccording to a 2010 government report, over 45 million Americans don’t have dental insurance. Many health insurance plans charge so much for dental insurance that people just reject the coverage.

I’m one of them. Every time I go to the dentist’s office, I worry about how much the visit will cost. You may share my concerns about the high cost of dental care. Although you must take care of your teeth to avoid paying for dentures or expensive dental procedures, it can get expensive.

Some tubes of organic toothpaste run $6-$7. Dental floss is $2-$3 per container. Mouthwash costs $3-$8 or more these days. If you don’t do a good job, then you receive pricey, and painful, bills from the dentist. You need to find some good ways to reduce dental care costs.

homemade readers digest bookI recently bought the book, Homemade: How to Make Hundreds of Everyday Products Fast, Fresh and More Naturally, compiled by Reader’s Digest writers and editors. Full of recipes that allow you to make products you normally have to buy in a store, the book is a gem.

The book has an entire section devoted to mouth and lip care and recipes that you can make at home, for much less than the cost of store-bought products. The first six recipes shared here come from this book, on pages 292-296. Frugal dental tips begin with mouthwash and toothpaste recipes you can make at home.

Homemade Toothpaste & Mouthwash Recipes

1. Mint Mouthwash

Most mouthwash is made of alcohol, but you don’t need alcohol to freshen your breath. You can make cheap and effective mouthwash at home. Try this easy recipe for mint mouthwash:

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin
  • 1 teaspoon of aloe vera gel
  • 10 drops peppermint, wintergreen or spearmint essential oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of water

Directions:

  1. In a clean jar with a tight lid, mix together all of the ingredients.
  2. Use the mint mouthwash anytime as a gargle.
  3. Make sure you store the mouthwash in a jar with a tightly sealed lid, and it will keep indefinitely.

2. Antibacterial Green Tea Mouthwash

This mouthwash can help kill germs that cause germ disease. This tasty recipe requires boiling water and takes two days to make.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups distilled water
  • 2 tablespoons of green tea
  • 2 tablespoons dried, crumbled peppermint, spearmint, or rosemary
  • 10 drops tincture of benzoin, or 1 teaspoon tincture of myrrh

Directions:

  1. Bring the water to a boil. In a jar with a tight lid, mix the green tea and herbs together. Pour in the boiling water, let it cool, cover, and let it steep overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. The next day, strain the mixture into a new bottle with a tight lid. Add the benzoin or myrrh tincture and shake well. Use two or more tablespoons to treat sore gums.

3. Regular Herbal Toothpaste

Tired of spending a fortune on brand name toothpaste? Consider making your own toothpaste with this simple recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons baking soda
  • water
  • 20 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 20 drops peppermint or spearmint essential oil

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix the baking soda with just enough water to make a paste.
  2. Add the essential oils and mix well.

You now have a delightful toothpaste to use daily. If sealed, this mixture keeps for several days. You can halve or double the recipe, depending on how much you need.

dental hygiene

4. The Toothache Zapping Rinse

Have a toothache? Use this rinse until you can get to the dentist.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1 cup boiling water

Directions:

  1. Put cloves in a small pot and then add the boiling water.
  2. Seep for 10 minutes, and then strain into a glass.
  3. Then, rinse your mouth. Relief!

5. Toothache Treatment

Don’t like cloves? Try this tasty mixture instead.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons powdered ginger
  • 4 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • Water

Directions:

  1. Mix the powdered ginger and cayenne pepper with enough water to make a paste.
  2. Then, put the mixture on a cloth or cotton ball, and apply it directly to your hurt tooth. Keep the paste off your gums or tongue; it can irritate other areas of your mouth.

6. Herbal Lip Balm

At the store, you might pay $4 per tube of organic lip balm. Instead, pick up these ingredients and make a ton of lip balm for yourself, for a bargain. If you already have some of these essential oils on hand, even better!

Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons almond or avocado oil
  • 2 tablespoon grated beeswax
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 capsules Vitamin E, 400 IU
  • 15-20 drops each of chamomile, orange, and wintergreen essential oils
  • 5-10 drops lavender essential oil

Directions:

  1. Warm the oil in a double boiler over low heat.
  2. Add the beeswax and honey, and stir until the wax melts.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Pierce the Vitamin E capsule with a needle and squeeze its content in the mixture.
  5. Add the essential oils, stirring constantly to make the herbal lip balm.
  6. Make sure you store this mixture in a cool, dry place. You can scoop it into small, empty containers you have on hand, or store it in one bigger container to use at home.

7. Coconut Toothpaste

I’m a huge fan of coconut, and can’t wait to try this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Coconut Oil
  • Baking soda
  • Essential oils such as spearmint or peppermint

Directions:

  1. Mix a 50/50 blend of coconut oil and baking soda. How much you make depends entirely on how much you want to use.
  2. Add a few drops of essential oil.
  3. Store in a small glass jar with a tight lid.

This mixture keeps forever, because of the anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties of coconut oil. Your homemade coconut toothpaste kills bacteria in your mouth and even helps to heal bleeding gums. Some people think that coconut oil even stops or reverses tooth decay.
Tip: I use coconut oil all the time in my home. I use coconut oil for cooking, skin lotion, and hair conditioner; coconut oil really controls frizzy hair. Look for the best prices on coconut oil in a health food store or at Trader Joe’s. If you can find coconut oil in an ethnic grocery store, you can save even more money.

Coconut oil is a solid until it reaches 76 degrees, at which point it turns into a liquid. The oil tastes amazing, and has a number of health benefits, making it an excellent choice for cooking.

More Frugal Dental Care Tips

In addition to making your own mouthwash and toothpaste, use these frugal mouth care tips to save even more money. By taking care of your teeth and gums, you can save money by reducing dental care bills, and using inexpensive home remedies to resolve common teeth and gum problems.

Frugal dental care tips include:

  • If you have a sore tooth or sore gums, dab clove oil directly onto the area. Clove oil destroys bacteria and has a numbing effect. It might sting at first, but you’ll quickly feel relief. An ounce of clove oil goes a long way, and usually costs about $3.
  • You can also rinse your mouth with 3% hydrogen peroxide if your tooth hurts. This provides short-term relief. A 16-ounce bottle of hydrogen peroxide on average costs $3.
  • Applying a hot, wet tea bag is also a great way to relieve tooth pain. Black tea has tannins, which act as an astringent. A box of twenty Lipton Black Pearl pure long leaf black tea bags costs about $3.

Important Note: If you experience intense pain or suspect you have an infection, go to your dentist. The recipes and tips in this article can help prevent tooth decay and provide temporary relief. Infections left untreated, however, can cause serious problems.

Final Word

I’ve used several of these recipes and can tell you first-hand that they work. Use the toothpaste mixture sparingly, however, because it doesn’t contain fluoride. The recipe can work great in a pinch if you run out of toothpaste, but shouldn’t replace fluoride-based toothpaste.

Many of the essential oils used in these recipes cost $5-$10 per bottle. Use the oils in several different recipes, to get more for your money. I keep lavender essential oil on hand all the time. I use it to drip on my lamps to scent my rooms naturally, and I also use it to scent oils I make at home. I also keep tea tree oil on hand. I use it in my mouthwash, in my hair, and I use tea tree oil as a zit-zapper. The versatility of essential oils helps reduce the overall price, because you can use them throughout your home.

Do you use toothpaste of mouthwash recipes at home? How effective have they been, and how much money have you saved by making your own recipes?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a freelance writer based in Detroit, MI. She's passionately committed to living green, saving money, and helping others do the same in their life.

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  • guest

    Good ideas but not for the frugal. I don’t know how many people keep vegetable glycerin, beeswax, essential mint oils around–to buy these products and use relatively small amounts of them for these recipes sound more like a fun hobby.

    • Heather

      Most of these items are relatively inexpensive to buy. The value lies in using them over and over, and even with other homemade products. For instance, you could buy mint essential oil to use in your toothpaste, and also use it to scent your home and your laundry naturally! So, finding ways to make these ingredients do double duty will make it more cost-effective. Thanks for the great point!

  • http://ecofrugality.blogspot.com haverwench

    WARNING: I would not use tea tree oil in anything I was planning to put in my mouth. The NIH says “Taking tree tea oil by mouth has caused confusion, inability to walk, unsteadiness, rash, and coma.” (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/113.html) Even if you’re not going to swallow it, seems like too big a risk to me. Better to use the baking soda straight.

    • Heather

      Haverwench,
      Thanks for the insightful warning! I’ve used tea tree oil in my mouth many times (in the mouthwash) in the past and never had a problem. However, you’re right, it doesn’t mean someone else won’t either. Thank you for posting that link for other readers to check out!

    • guest

      Um, tea tree oil has been seen safe and effective in numerous OTC mouthwashes and toothpastes. You might want to include how much must be swallowed to see confusion inability to walk etc. in your post.

    • Marcusdimarco

      Also, many dentists recommend their patients use tea tree oil oral care products. It does seem to reduce gum problems like swelling for me. Oh and you’re link doesn’t work, and I’m unable to find the study that shows negative tea tree oil effects when eaten. However I would assume it was with at least a couple mililiters (40 drops). Even if one were to eat the whole batch of toothpaste, the 20 drops of tea tree oil probably wouldn’t cause any negative effects (correct me if I’m wrong, and don’t try it!). But I’m sure a tube of normal toothpaste would be much worse to eat.

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