As far as the kids..... Last year I decided to make up a special homemade toothpaste for them but they hadn't gotten used to it and weren't very fond of it and so I broke down and bought them a tube of regular toothpaste. Then (as this was around Christmas time) Ken (somewhat as a joke and not knowing that I had already bought them toothpaste) got them each a big tube. Anyway since we have always been frugal on the amount of toothpaste we use they are still using the store bought stuff. And I have no plans of breaking down and buying them store bought stuff again. I know that once you get used to it the homemade stuff tastes just fine and I have done more reading since then I am do not like what I read about regular toothpaste!
The reason I first started thinking about alternatives for toothpaste was because I have long struggled with many canker sores in my mouth and I was getting very tired of it. Huge sores in your mouth make it so eating, tooth brushing even kissing and talking (not at the same time!) at times hurts quite badly. It can aid in weight loss (since you don't feel like eating) but that is about it. Anyway I decided I had better do some research to see what I could do so that I wouldn't have these anymore. In my research I found several things that can contribute - I can't remember now what all they were but one thing that kept coming up over and over was Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) which is found in toothpaste (nearly all) as well as oodles of other cleaning and personal products.
Since then I have been trying to remove SLS from my life if at all possible. Toothpaste was an obvious place to start as it went in my mouth but I also stopped using shampoo, soft soaps (though currently I do have dishsoap which I think has it in it) laundry detergent and more. I do still get canker sores once in a while but I have them far less then I ever used to. And I am very thankful for that!
Here are some other sites that I found that talk about the dangers of SLS if you are interested in reading more: Livestrong and Natural Health Information.
Another ingredient in most toothpastes and one that I don't really want to use is fluoride. Here are some posts about why we probably shouldn't be using that: An article at Global Healing Center and another from Schachter Center.
So anyway, my top reason for going alternative on toothpaste is for the sake of good health. My alternatives however have also been more frugal as well and on top of that they cause me to have less waste with them as well. I don't have though little useless tubes to throw away anymore.
If I don't buy toothpaste then what do I do?
What I did first was simply use baking soda. I would just dip my rinse toothbrush into the dry powder, it would pick some up and I would brush. It tasted nasty at first but I soon got used to it and I don't mind it at all now. There are some concerns however with that method that if you do that all the time you will wear enamel off of your teeth. So I still do that some but I also have mixed together a homemade "Toothpaste". I mixed together Baking Soda, Salt, Coconut Oil, Peppermint Oil and Truvia (Steevia) to make a decent tasting paste that works well. It lasts quite a while as you don't need to use a lot.
I have also occasionally brushed with just a bit of tea tree oil to prevent against gingivitis.
That is what I have done. I have also thought about trying Hydrogen Peroxide rinse to again help prevent against gingivitis and whiten my teeth. I have also enjoyed reading about Black Walnut Shells and the possibly idea of remineralization. I really enjoyed reading about tooth care in "Be Your Own Doctor". Keeper of the Home had an interesting article on this subject that I read a while back.
This is a subject I continue to learn more about and try new things in. I don't feel like I have "arrived" and have the toothcare system for the rest of my life figured out but I feel I am making progress.
I would love to hear if you have tried any alternative methods in this area and if so what have you done? I always read every comment and I love to hear from you!