Updated to reflect much experimentation and the final recipe, Dec 16, 2016
We forget that tooth pain is nerve pain. There are big fat nerves going right up into every one of those 30-odd things in your head.
I have sensitive teeth, related to the fact that I have CRPS, which does its very best to thin the bony tissue out until it’s like a lacework pattern crocheted by the famous one-armed wallpaper-hanger.
So, basically, my head is set up for lots and lots of nerve pain.
Have you noticed that there are no brands of toothpaste for sensitive teeth that are anything other than mint-flavored? Moreover, the toothpaste focus groups apparently like a strong minty taste, because that makes them feel like it’s working. Heaven forbid they just lick their teeth to find out, I guess.
The vocal but persistent minority that does NOT like a strong minty taste apparently just isn’t profitable enough to serve.
Those of us who find it obnoxious or uncomfortable, or who are sufficiently chemically sensitive that the mint actually causes a chemical burn? Tom’s of Maine provides a couple of marginally less-caustic alternatives, but none for sensitive teeth.
That’s right, folks. Chemical burns to go with your sensitive teeth. Isn’t that clever?
So, my dental routine has sucked for years. First, brushing requires tension in my wrist tendons for a couple of minutes. Second, it jars my joints every time I switch direction, which happens a lot. Thirdly, I’M GIVING MYSELF CHEMICAL BURNS THROUGHOUT MY MOUTH. There’s something very wrong with that. Fourthly, in the nature of a cherry on the sundae, toothpaste doesn’t actually seem to get my teeth clean. It scores lines in the muck, but it doesn’t actually clear it away.
The routine I developed, which I could only do every few days, was this:
1. Damp washcloth to wipe off the muck, front and back, top and bottom. Only way to clear it off.
2. Floss with a flossing sword, hoicking more muck out from between the choppers.
3. Brush with the least-burning sensitive-teeth toothpaste I could find, the Walgreens brand.
That’s going to happen twice a week at most, not twice a day. It’s a lot of fine-motor maneuvering and, of course, the CHEMICAL BURNS THROUGHOUT MY MOUTH make it hard to look forward to. I can’t eat or drink anything for at least an hour, not without slamming the cup down as I’m sharply reminded why that was a bad idea.
This is a stupid problem to have. It should not be hard to have a non-burning toothpaste which will get the muck off my teeth and protect them afterwards!
Then a friend of mine (a fellow spoonie with a different set of spectacular health challenges) mentioned that she had been using calcium carbonate to brush her teeth, and they were suddenly whiter and stronger and better.
Then the pieces started coming together in my head. I put the calcium carbonate (yes, it’s chalk, in case you were going to look it up) together with some other things I knew about handling oral hygiene in the non-conventional, post-industrial world, and made my own toothpaste.
With one brushing, half as long as my old brushings, my teeth got COMPLETELY CLEAN. I might be hallucinating, but they seem a half a shade lighter after 1 day and 3 (that’s right, 3) brushings.
I’m keeping the potassium-nitrate toothpaste nearby in case this doesn’t work out within a week for sensitivity, but this is a real pleasure to use! It’s tasty, it doesn’t hurt, the jarring isn’t as bad on my wrists and I don’t have to do it as long, so I can actually brush my teeth a couple of times a day and it hardly takes any spoons at all!
This was so worth it 🙂
ADDENDUM/CORRECTION: So, the original recipe for toothpaste was outstanding for a few more days (when my teeth got visibly whiter and felt fabulous!) but the pain came back, absolutely unbearable. I couldn’t eat solids at all. I suspected that the calcium carbonate, which is extremely absorbent, basically sucked the potassium nitrate out of my teeth and may even have trapped the clove oil so it couldn’t do its job. I used commercial sensitive-teeth toothpaste for a few days until it stopped, went back to the homemade toothpaste to build up my teeth, and went back to the commercial stuff every so often as needed, until my home-made tooth PASTE turned into tooth SOLID. The calcium simply did what calcium carbonate does: it absorbed all the water and solidified. It is spectacularly good at absorbing liquid.
After lots of, um, learning experiences, I came to terms with the fact that the only tooth care I can manage to make for myself is not going to be a paste.
I’m not interested in adding glycerine and strange oozy substances to my dentifrice. It’s tedious, mucky, and provides no benefit I care about.
I grew up watching my dad clean his teeth with tooth powder, and he had the best teeth in the house, so it doesn’t seem odd to me at all.
I shake about a half teaspoon into my palm, dab it up with a wet toothbrush that’s as soft as I can find, and my teeth are cleaner and whiter, with less effort, than ever before.
Here is my..
Toothpowder recipe for sensitive tissues:
- ~1/3 powdered xylitol, a specific non-caloric sweetener.
- ~2/3 powdered calcium carbonate.
If you like, add to each cup of powder mix:
- 20 drops essential oil of sweet orange (to boost the cleaning and de-mucking)
- 20 drops essential oil of clove (to ease nerve pain)
+Why xylitol? Because it loosens the muck. It disrupts the biofilm made by all the different bacteria getting together on your teeth, by dissolving the glue that holds them together. (This is why your dentist likes you to have xylitol candy if you must have candy.) I recommend the xylitol made from hardwood, because the corn-derivation has gotten so that almost anything derived from corn makes my pain spike. Sad but true. I get mine from http://store.xylitolusa.com/xylitol/.
Forward-looking statement (e.g., dream castle)
In the fullness of time, I hope to have a little cottage industry making this stuff up and selling it on to those who need it but can’t put it together or can’t get the stuff in bulk. Fingers crossed..