Plastic-Free Natural Toothpaste

By Kathryn Nelson

Why not have the freshest breath in the anchorage, which is also single-use plastic-free,
chemical-free, and easily made from products you already have in your galley stores!

Kate Nelson in the sunshine

The purpose of toothpaste

Toothpaste acts as an abrasive that aids the removal of dental plaque and food from the teeth and commonly delivers active ingredients (like fluoride) to help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

What causes dental issues?

Bacteria and food are the causes of tooth decay and gum disease. A clear, sticky substance called plaque is always forming on our teeth and gums, which contains bacteria that feed on the sugars in the food we eat. As the bacteria feed, they make acids that break down the surface of your teeth. However, it’s not all doom and gloom, if you’re flossing and brushing regularly, you will be effectively preventing plaque, food, and bacteria build-up that cause tooth decay and gum disease.

We have been conditioned to think we need active ingredients like fluoride to help further prevent decay, however, fluoride is a natural mineral found in soil, water, foods, and minerals, and a synthesized version is added to many landlubbers drinking water supply. So, chances are you are already getting a healthy dose of fluoride in the foods and water you consume already.

As you work your way down the list of common toothpaste ingredients you begin to realize there is more than a few daunting additives;

  • Triclosan, a pesticide and hormone disruptor.

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) which causes canker sores for many people.

  • Artificial colorings linked to ADHD and hyperactivity in children. Toothpaste does not need to be blue!

  • Titanium dioxide, which is added to make toothpaste white. Most of the data shows it’s safe and is not absorbed by the skin, but I have yet to find a study done to measure absorption by oral tissues. The EWG has a good list of safety concerns around titanium dioxide, but the take-home message: it’s just there to make toothpaste white, not improve your health. So why bother with it?

  • Glycerin, which isn’t toxic, but has no place in the mouth as it’s a soap that strips your body’s natural oral mucosa and leaves a film. This film could coat the teeth, messing with the structure of the biofilm which could alter the microbiome in the mouth and impact the natural remineralization process — your body’s natural cavity-fighting mechanism.

  • Highly abrasive ingredients, which damage enamel, making teeth sensitive and more prone to gum recession and cavities. Toothpaste should be only a little bit abrasive — this graininess aids the brushing motion to remove the biofilm of the tooth.

These are just a few of the possible harmful ingredients to avoid in your toothpaste provided by Mark Burhenne DDS of

So, to reduce my reliance on single-use plastic toothpaste tubes and all the chemicals found inside I choose to make my own!

Here is my super simple Natural Toothpaste made from galley staples

Home made toothpaste ingredients


1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup baking soda/bicarb soda

15-20 drops peppermint oil


  1. Stir all the ingredients together to form a smooth consistency.

  2. Pour into a small repurposed glass jar to store and use daily to help fight tooth decay, gum disease, and to aid in having the freshest breath in the anchorage!

Why these ingredients you may ask?

  • Coconut oil binds the ingredients and also has great anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties that can help boost the microbiome in your gut and naturally prevent candida in the mouth. There is limited evidence that coconut oil might help reduce cavity-causing bacteria.

  • Baking soda is the abrasive which cleans the teeth (ranks lowest in the Abrasiveness Index of Common Toothpastes. It has quite a salty taste that can take a bit of getting used to. Importantly, its alkalinity neutralizes stains, odors, and the acids attacking our teeth caused by the foods we eat. Neutralizing these acids (which can be done with vegetables and water too) is essential to maintaining proper pH in the mouth to encourage the right bacteria as well as protect the enamel from decay. Baking soda has a pH of 9 to 11 (alkaline), so it helps to neutralize acids while not being too abrasive to teeth.

  • Peppermint extract helps with minty freshness! And also aid in fighting plaque and gingivitis when used together with brushing and flossing

Vibrant dental health is about achieving a balanced ecosystem of bacteria in your mouth, which protects us from illness and promotes tooth remineralization. So be mindful of what’s going on in your mouth and if you suspect things are awry, perhaps consult your dentist!

Kathryn Nelson

Water woman, magical mermaid, yogi goddess, and disposable plastic-free for over ten years. Kate radiates her positive message about conserving and protecting our oceans through her strong social media presence, recent book release, and her lobbying campaigns against governments and large corporate companies.

She has always been drawn to the sea and one day hopes to live aboard her own sailing vessel sharing her sustainable message.

Visit the links below to find out more about Kate



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