a blog by J.M. Cottle
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Checking in with the old tooth experiment

Last night, I used toothpaste for the first time in over a year. I had just finished brushing my teeth and I noticed that they were looking decidedly off-white, which is only to be expected when you drink as much black tea as I do and brush your teeth with water. I remembered that when I went to the dentist and they used toothpaste on me, my teeth looked whiter for a few weeks afterward, so I was curious. Would regular non-dentist toothpaste accomplish the same thing?

As soon as I put the toothbrush back in my mouth with the tiny blob of toothpaste on the bristles, it felt like an explosion. It seared my tongue and made my gums prickle. My sinuses and my eyes stung. The toothpaste bubbled up into a thick lather that almost choked me. I rinsed for five minutes to try to get rid of the slick coated feeling and the nerve-singeing minty cold, but it lingered all night.

On the other hand, when I bared my teeth to the mirror, they were noticeably whiter.

I decided to stop using toothpaste last year when I discovered Beth Terry’s post about plastic-free dental hygiene products and started wondering if I really needed anything more than a toothbrush and a flosser. I experimented for a few months, and in the year since then, my dentist has told me twice that I have very healthy teeth and I do a good job of brushing them.

The only drawback, therefore, is that my teeth get slightly stained, but every time I go to the dentist for a cleaning they will wash away the stains. I wonder if permanent stains can build up over time, though. Stains are not the end of the world and I’m definitely not going to go back to conventional toothpaste to get rid of them, because conventional toothpaste is packaged wastefully, contains dubious ingredients, and tastes disgusting, but I’m too curious to let the question stand without further experimentation.

Beth has since made a post specifically about plastic-free toothpaste options. The Toothy Tabs by Lush are tempting me. I like Lush, and I’d like to see how these work. If they work well for cleaning away stains I might use them once a week or so.

The moral of the story (you know there had to be one) is never stop experimenting. Things change; if the conclusions you reached a long time ago are outdated, there’s no harm in giving them another look.

So tell me, which Toothy Tab flavors sound best to you? I’m thinking… Breath of God.

2 Responses to Checking in with the old tooth experiment

  1. It pleases me when anyone has reason to conclude, “never stop experimenting”. But, thanks for pointing the way to toothy tabs! I think the fennel, vanilla, and sandalwood ones sound intriguing.

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