The Clay Toothpaste Roundtable


Clay. What's it good for? Some would say toothpaste. Probably not dentists though, on account of it lacking fluoride and FDA approval. There are some people who are not dentists that claim the clay acts as a natural polisher, while being mineral-rich and alkaline (this is a good thing?). We're game to experiment—once, to see what it feels like. With ingredients from the good people at Mountain Rose Herbs, we smushed up a paste using bentonite clay (which was clearly marked "not for internal consumption"), distilled water, coconut oil, sea salt, and peppermint essential oil for taste. Then three intrepid ITG-ers tried it on their teeth. These are their stories:

[Mixed up in a glass bowl, the paste bears a stronger resemblance to wet concrete than Crest. Emily Weiss, Emily Ferber, and intern extraordinaire Kim Johnson approach the bowl, toothbrushes in hand]

Kim Johnson: That’s a bit disturbing.

Emily Ferber: It’s unclear the best way to get it on the toothbrush.

Emily Weiss: You’re literally supposed to brush your teeth with this clay on a toothbrush?

EF: Yes. Ready?

EW: If we don’t make it through this, I just wanna tell you, I’m happy to have known you all.

[Everyone scoops some gray matter from the bowl onto her toothbrush]

KJ: It smells normal. Like peppermint.

EF: Yeah, there’s peppermint oil.

[Brushing commences]

Everyone: Ugh...oh...oh…

Tom Newton [from across the room]: Oh my God that smells so bad. I’m definitely not trying it.

EF:  [mouth full] It’s sweeter than I thought. I don’t hate it.

KJ:  [mouth also full] It’s really bad, really bad.

[Upon realizing conversation is both uncomfortable and unsightly, everyone runs to the bathroom and spits; this takes longer than expected]

EW: You know what the problem was?

EF:The texture?

EW: All of it.

KJ: It got stuck up in my gums, wasn’t into that at all.

EW: Ooo, it was like really cringe-worthy.

KJ: It was kind of like, salty.

EF: I didn't have a problem with the taste—spitting it out was a problem though. I felt like I really had to work at it.

KJ: It was really thick. It tasted like dirt. I mean, it was like, like, wet dirt is what I felt like what it was.

EF: And now all I feel is the coconut oil coating my mouth.

EW: I feel like it would be a really good face mask. I'll try many things for beauty, but I won't try this in my mouth again.

KJ: And it’s still in my gums and I just don’t know what to do.

[End scene]

Consensus: Would not try again. No one's died, though. Yet.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Hannah

    You guys are Hi lar ious

  • District Style

    Hilarious. I agree - clay is for facial masks, not toothpaste! I do find that swishing with coconut oil can whiten teeth, but I always follow up with actual toothpaste.

  • Heather P.

    Thanks for biting the dirt-covered bullet for the rest of us (not that I was ever going to try that...*shudders*)

  • Emma Hager

    This was hilarious....I envisioned this entire thing in my head, and it was glorious. I probably was not going to try this (chiefly because I did not know it was a "thing."), but I am thankful that the general consensus was: never again!

    Also, happy to see that "like" is alive and well on the East Coast. You wouldn't know it when we California girls seem to get all to flak for using it interchangeably with other pauses in speech.

  • beeswaxnoneofyour

    I will do a lot of weird things for beauty/hygiene; this definitely ain't one of them. Now for the question no one cared about asking. Do clays taste different? I mean, isn't there some French clay that's meant to be fine to take internally (you can be the guinea pig, thanks)?

  • katie

    Haha. When my boyfriend was having some tooth sensitivity issues this past year, he tried out basically every natural toothpaste we could find in santa cruz (and santa cruz has a lot of weird natural toothpaste options, let me tell you). He really liked a clay-based one by a company called Uncle Harry's for his purposes, and I enjoyed it too, actually. It wasn't gritty and it tasted good.
    The worst toothpaste thing he tried was also by Uncle Harry's: Cinnamon Tooth Soap. Oh yeah, it's what it sounds like. Soap with cinnamon oil. Ughhhhhhhhh.

    • bluesky557

      I used to live in Santa Cruz, so LOL. There's a lot of weird everything there.

    • Cavegirl

      Ouch. I'll tell you what worked for me. Much as I love my cavegirl ways, tooth sensitivity will just end life as I know it, so I went "modern." I had my teeth cleaned and asked for a super-deep clean from the tech. Did you know that some places (especially the "new" multiple-doctor practices) now have two definitions of cleanings? They only do a "basic" cleaning every 6 months and a deep one only every I forget 3 years or something. Anyway, you have to ask some of them!!! How silly. Just clean the dam teeth and draw blood, ok? I will heal and all will be well in a day. Geez. Ahem, ok, rant over.
      So anyway, I get them cleaned very well, and then I ask for a prescription strength toothpaste with the highest fluoride the doctor will prescribe and I use it to remineralize my teeth exactly as they did when I was a kid. I just leave it on my teeth for 30 minutes (like a whitening treatment, except goopier. Then I start using the highest fluoride toothpaste I have (probably whatever's left of the prescription strength tube, then whatever I can find that's .2% at the store if I can find it, but I'll settle for .15%, nothing less). I brush deep into the gums and leave it on every time for a count of 30-60 depending on patience.
      You can get them to remineralize for you, but it's like pulling teeth (hehe) to get them to agree because of that silly insurance thing. They don't know how to bill it or justify it for adults. You're better off doing it yourself. A nice doctor might even give you the real goop and the trays if they know what you're going to do. Good luck!

      • katie

        My boyfriend is a true caveman, so, while I immediately recommended a visit to the dentist, he chose to buy mud and herbal tinctures instead. What can you do.

  • Allyn

    I've been making clay toothpaste for years and now we're kind of obsessed with it. My teeth are so clean! And we've had very good reports from dentists. I do think that texture is key, as well as finding the right recipe for your tastes. We've NEVER had issues with in being in our gums or hard to spit out or anything like that. Yikes.

  • Cavegirl

    That's really funny. But you missed the point. All of those are edible. All of them. Even the "non edible" dirt, erm, bentonite clay. Spitting is only necessary to get the germs out rather than in.. You can swallow the rest. I've been doing this sort of thing, swallowing bentonite, oil pulling, etc, for years. I'm not dead yet.
    Actually, some people use real dirt to deodorize their armpits. It works on the theory of nitrogen fixing bacteria. But I won't gross you out too much (google AOB deodorant if you dare). Others use rendered or raw animal fat for moisturizer. Much as I'd love it, hardcore Paleo culture is probably not going to be fashionable anytime soon. LOL Thanks for trying it, it was a fun read.

  • Sheila

    I tried Earthpaste, Cinnamon flavor. I really tried to like it but it was not successful. I didn't mind the flavor or texture, but without anything to give it some foaming, it didn't feel like it was actually on the toothbrush while brushing (if that makes any sense)- like I was brushing with water. I finally conceded it was a fail, and tossed it this week.

  • grace b

    Earthpaste. LOVE IT.

  • MissApers

    I'm brushing with Earthpaste by Redmond Clay and I really like it. Since I already use their clay for everything from masks to treating scrapes and other owies I thought I'd give the paste a try.

  • Addison Cain

    Clay toothpaste is not my thing, but I love the Weleda Salt Toothpaste.

    • Adrienne Angelos

      What is this strange new wonder? Salt toothpaste? Tell me more.

  • Haiku Jew

    Clay is for facials
    and creating cool sculptures
    but my lips are sealed.

    • lis

      Love you Haiku are hilarious.

      • Haiku Jew

        Thanks, for your kind words
        I like to make people laugh
        and you made my day!

  • Clever Girl Reviews

    Hehehe, just try the coconut oil. I've started doing it between meals and only using conventional toothpaste at night. I've only been doing it a few days but I think my gums are happier.

  • pamb

    Thank you for doing this. Ever since Shailene Woodley said she ate clay (and the link to the clay said 'not for internal consumption, too) I've wondered who would be brave enough to try it!

  • Alex

    Haha thanks for being the guinea pigs guys! I WILL NOT be rushing out to get me some clay toothpaste.

  • Mike M

    Try Dentisse...incredible smooth and clean feeling after brushing...Pretty pricey tho. Wont use anything else

  • Sarah

    Please be aware that there are often significant amounts of lead in clay, so I would do my research first before putting it in your mouth every day.

  • David

    I like Dentisse too. My dentist couldn't believe I was using a toothpaste with clay.

  • TedMfftt

    I like earthpaste (It's what i take when I travel) but at home I make my own using coarse sea salt and bit of redmond clay (dry powder) and a few drops of clove oil. The oil masks the salt and it does a remarkable job cleaning. I put maybe a quarter teaspoon in my palm then with a wet toothbrush I dip into the till it is all use d up (maybe three dips total).