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SHTF Dental Care: 6 Alternatives to Toothpaste

Without dentists being readily available to us during a long-term emergency, we will have to fall upon more natural approaches to dental health.

Contrary to popular belief, your teeth are designed to last a lifetime. Over the years the dental industry has made a killing selling the idea that we need to brush our teeth with toothpaste and chemicals in order to keep our teeth clean.

In a SHTF or long-term emergency scenario, tooth paste may be less accessible and we will need to fall upon more traditional means to clean our teeth.

Although certain foods can have a cleaning affect on your teeth, there are other natural alternatives that you can turn to keep your teeth and gums clean. Below are six alternatives to toothpaste that can be used to not only promote healthy teeth and gums, but most of these alternatives have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that assist in preventing dental issues such as gingivitis, canker sores and gum disease.

Chew sticks – Traditional peoples the world over use natural tooth brushes made from healing plants. These primitive twig “brushes” actually work quite well, and provide a natural-bristle, disposable brush with healing herbs already incorporated right in the plant. People would chew on the tip of a twig to make it spread out into several small strands. They would then use it in the same way that a toothbrush is used. If this is the only option to brush your teeth, look for twigs that contain oils to help stimulate blood circulation, tannins that tighten and cleanse gum tissue and other materials, such as vitamin C, which maintain healthy gums. Bay, eucalyptus, oak, fir, and juniper and twigs of the neem tree are good choices to make primitive toothbrushes with.

Salts – Salt is a multipurpose prep that every prepper should have a good supply of. In the case of dental health, it is a mild cleanser that can be used multiple times daily or as a mouthwash to help with bad breath or used as a disinfectant rinse. Salt has a natural healing property to it, as well as removes plaque, tartar and bad breath.

Cleaning teeth – Mix one part salt to two parts baking soda after pulverizing the salt in a blender or rolling it on a kitchen board with a tumbler before mixing. It whitens teeth, helps remove plaque and it is healthy for the gums. Another recipe for cleaning teeth is one teaspoon each of ground sage, baking soda, and table salt.

Washing mouth – Mix equal parts of salt and baking soda as a mouth wash that sweetens the breath.

Baking soda – Baking soda is a classic amongst natural teeth cleaning methods, and is harmless. It is very effective in removing stains and killing plaque-causing bacteria, and it also reduces acids which harm your tooth enamel. Hippocrates recommended a mixture of salt, alum, and vinegar as a mouthwash for preventative measures. Here is a basic recipe for baking soda toothpaste:


  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup aluminum free baking soda
  • 5 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 2 drops cinnamon or clove essential oil

Mix all ingredients together and use as you would normally for toothpaste.

Essential oils –  Incorporating essential oils into your dental preparedness supplies can function as natural antibacterial and antimicrobial agents, as well as natural cleansers for a well-rounded mouth health. Essential oils such as peppermint and spearmint can be mixed with water to make dental rinses too.

Three popular essential oils amongst preppers are:

  • Peppermint Oil – Peppermint essential oil is the most popular oil used for teeth cleaning. It helps freshen breath, kill bacteria, and clear sinuses. 5 drops added to your teeth cleaning regimen will do the trick.
  • Clove oil contains eugenol, a natural pain killer and antibacterial. Mix 2 to 3 drops of pure clove oil with 1/4 teaspoon olive oil. Saturate a cotton ball with the mixture and place the cotton ball beside the tooth.
  • Cinnamon oil –  Cinnamon naturally contains antimicrobial and antibacterial properties and can help fight harmful mouth bacterias. Cinnamon bark oil has been known to effectively destroy 21 different types of bacteria. Rinsing with diluted cinnamon oil after you brush your teeth, or using a toothpaste made from cinnamon oil  may help you kill harmful bacteria and prevent cavities. It’s warming properties will also stimulate the blood circulation in gums. Note: Using cinnamon oil can cause some irritation and inflammation, therefore if you plan to use cinnamon oil, always dilute it first. If you suffer from any inflammation in your mouth, discontinue using cinnamon oil and the symptoms should disappear within 24 hours.
  •  4 thieves oil – A combination of  clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary, this oil possesses both antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties. A few drops of this oil can be used to prevent and treat gum disease, drops can be applied orally to maintain healthy teeth and reduce cavities, to clean teeth and be used as an effective mouth wash, or applied to gums and teeth for pain relief from toothaches.

If you are faced with swollen gums, nightly gum packs made from herbs or herbal infused oils rolled in gauze can be tucked into the corners of the mouth. In auyervedic medicine, a combination of turmeric, aloe, willow bark, vitamin E, and powdered alum can help relieve pain and swelling. If this regimen is regularly used and followed with a healthy diet and vitamin supplements, it can reduce symptoms significantly.

Hydrogen peroxide 3% – This product assists in healing canker sores, helps kill off bacteria living in the mouth, and fights gingivitis. There is conflicting information about the abrasiveness of hydrogen peroxcide on teeth, so to be on the safe side, dilute this product with water if you decide to use it in your mouth.

A mouth rinse can be made by mixing equal parts of water and a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide. This mouth rinse should be swished (not swallowed) around the entire mouth for 15-30 seconds. Using the diluted mouthwash and then following it with your normal brushing regimen will thoroughly clean the mouth and teeth, as well as kill off harmful bacteria. Don’t limit using hydrogen peroxide to inside your mouth, you can even clean your toothbrush with hydrogen peroxide after use to kill off any remaining bacteria that may still be left on the toothbrush.

Water – This is the most basic a person can get with cleaning their teeth. Brushing your teeth with water may not have any healing properties, but it will at least get any residual food off of your teeth. And anything is better than nothing at all.

To conclude, without our normal dental items being readily available to us during a long-term emergency, we may have to fall upon more natural approaches to dental health. Having supplies and possessing knowledge on natural alternatives to maintain healthy teeth and gums will prevent and may control any current issues from exacerbating.

This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on October 25th, 2011

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