A Dentist Explains How You Can Make Homemade Toothpaste in a Pinch

published Nov 20, 2023
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Head on view of a hand holding a toothbrush, dipping into a small jar of homemade toothpaste.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Tom Hoerup

There are some things you never want to run out of, and toothpaste ranks pretty high on that list (probably just below toilet paper and deodorant). Not only can skipping that first brushing of the day leave you with some pretty strong morning breath but it can also cause some complications with your oral health down the line. “Like any habit, you have to be consistent to maintain good results,” explains Dr. Michael Kosdon, cosmetic dentist at Smiles of NYC, which is why he recommends opting for a DIY method when you run out of toothpaste. 

You Should Be Brushing Twice a Day

You’ve probably been told several times throughout your life about the importance of brushing your teeth three times a day. And while it’s true, routine brushing can help with things like gum health, preventing plaque buildup, and keeping cavities at bay, Kosdon says you can actually get by with a little less. “It’s best to brush and floss at least twice daily, this prevents bacteria from causing lasting damage to your teeth and gums,” he explains. 

“Just the mechanics of running a brush over your teeth helps remove plaque and food particles that can cause cavities, gingivitis, and bad breath,” he continues, adding that using toothpaste helps scrub bacteria and stains from all those nooks and crannies in your mouth where they hide. This is why it’s so important to make sure you’re not missing any of those brushing sessions … even when you’ve run out of toothpaste. 

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Tom Hoerup

How to Make Homemade Toothpaste

Kosdon shares how to make a four-ingredient toothpaste at home if you’re ever in a pinch.

Step 1: Gather your ingredients.

Kosdon says you’ll need the following ingredients which you hopefully already have on hand: 1 teaspoon of coconut oil, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide, and 3 drops of cinnamon, peppermint, or clove oil.

Step 2: Combine your ingredients. 

Next, you’ll mix everything. “Add coconut oil or hydrogen peroxide to the baking soda and mix it to a smooth creamy texture,” Kosdon says. If you want to add a bit of flavor, he says you can add cinnamon, peppermint, or even clove oil to your mix.

Step 3: Store in a glass jar.

After everything has been combined you’ll have a small backup stash of toothpaste that you can keep for emergencies. “Store the toothpaste in a small, airtight glass jar,” Kosdon adds.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Tom Hoerup

How to Use Your Homemade Toothpaste

You can’t exactly squeeze Kosdon’s recipe out of a tube like you would with the store-bought variety. Instead, he suggests dipping your toothbrush into the mix and then applying it to your teeth.

If you’ve also found yourself without a toothbrush you can always use your finger and scoop up a bit of our homemade mix and rub it on your teeth that way. No matter which method you use, Kosdon says it’s important to ensure you’re doing it for at least two minutes. 

Maintain Good Brushing Habits

While brushing your teeth twice a day is a top priority there are a few other important things Kosdon says people should keep in mind. “I highly recommend using an electric toothbrush,” he says. “There are many studies that prove their effectiveness.”

However, if you prefer to brush with a manual brush, Kosdon says you should always opt for one with soft bristles and ensure you’re brushing in a circular motion. “Don’t be shy about brushing the area where your gums and teeth come together,” he continues. “This is where many people miss when brushing and they tend to build up a lot of plaque.” 

And of course, you’ll want to floss and use mouthwash as part of your oral care routine.