Homemade Tooth Powder

Myrrh (Commiphora spp.) is a great herb to study during this time of year because it is readily available during the winter months (hard to find fresh chickweed in many places) and because of its close association with many different religions and celebrations that occur around the winter solstice.

Myrrh is mentioned in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim texts. While myrrh has several references in the Old and New Testament, those familiar with the Christian religion will recall that gold, frankincense, and myrrh were the gifts brought to the birth of Jesus by the wise men. By the seventh century, myrrh had made its way to East Asia, where it was favored and has remained an important part of the materia medica.

Where Does Myrrh Come From?

In the horn of Africa, a small native tree, covered in spines, grows in the arid deserts. When the bark is wounded through to the sapwood, the tree exudes an aromatic, oily, yellow oleo gum resin which eventually hardens into a hard yellow-reddish opaque globule that can be easily harvested from the side of the tree.

myrrh tree (Commiphora myrrha)

Medicinal Benefits of Myrrh

While the rich resinous smell of myrrh has long been treasured, myrrh has also been used for a variety of ailments such as mouth cankers or sores, wounds, pain, digestive problems, and upper respiratory infections. If you are interested in learning more about myrrh, check out the featured article on HerbMentor.com.

Today’s recipe focuses on myrrh’s healing qualities for the mouth. Myrrh is commonly used for a variety of problems with the mouth, including for improved gum health (e.g., against gingivitis) and for healing mouth ulcers. It’s commonly used as an ingredient in tooth powders and mouth washes. Dioscorides (40–90 C.E.), author of De Materia Medica, even mentions myrrh diluted in wine as a mouthwash to strengthen teeth and gums.1

More recently, a clinical trial compared the difference of using an aloe gel, a myrrh gel, or a placebo on patients with recurring canker sores. The researchers concluded that, “Aloe was superior in decreasing ulcer size, erythema, and exudation; whereas myrrh resulted in more pain reduction.”2

Before we get to our recipe, let’s take a look at some of the other herbs in this blend.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.)

Cinnamon is antimicrobial and astringent, making it a great ally for gum health. It is readily available and cheap. I learned about using cinnamon as a tooth powder from Lesley Tierra and have used it ever since. It tastes great and leaves my teeth feeling smooth.

There have been a couple of in vitro tests that have shown cinnamon essential oil to be effective against pathogenic bacteria in the mouth including Candida strains and Streptococcus mutans (a major cause of dental plaque).3,4 In the future we’ll hopefully see cinnamon’s abilities verified in human clinical trials using cinnamon powder.

Liquorice root

Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Licorice root powder is antimicrobial and sweet. It can support healthy gums and gives this powder a sweet taste. Science is beginning to validate this traditional use of licorice. In 2014, an in vitro study showed that licorice root was actually more effective against oral pathogens than the pharmaceutical solution of chlorhexidine.5 It would be interesting to see this put to the test in human clinical trials.

While licorice is commonly contraindicated for people who have high blood pressure, it is used in such small amounts in this recipe that it’s highly unlikely to cause any adverse effects. If you don’t like the taste of licorice powder, you can simply omit it from the recipe. If you still want the powder to taste a bit sweet, then try adding a small amount of stevia powder.

Myrrh and Cinnamon Tooth Powder

Brushing your teeth with powdered herbs may sound strange, but this was the normal practice long before we had liquid toothpaste. Making your own homemade tooth powder is simple and you’ll be able to brush your teeth without any harsh chemicals found in commercial toothpastes. This powder will not foam, but it will make your teeth feel clean and support the health of your gums.

What you’ll need…

  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon powder
  • 1 tablespoon myrrh powder
  • 2 teaspoons licorice root powder

  1. Blend all the powders together and store in a small container with a lid.
  2. To use the powder, wet your toothbrush. Then, using a small spoon or wooden stirring stick, heap a small mound of powder onto your toothbrush. I do this over the small container holding the powder so that I can trap any falling powder; however, you want to avoid getting drops of water into your powder.

  1. Lightly brush your teeth as you would with a toothpaste. As long as the powder is stored properly, this mixture should last indefinitely. If you regularly use this recipe, consider making it in larger batches.

Citations

  1. Osbaldeston, Tess Anne, trans. De Materia Medica: Being an Herbal with Many Other Medicinal Materials : Written in Greek in the First Century of the Common Era: A New Indexed Version in Modern English. Johannesburg: IBIDIS, 2000.
  2. Mansour, Ghada, Soliman Ouda, Ahmed Shaker, and Hossam M Abdallah. “Clinical Efficacy of New Aloe Vera- and Myrrh-based Oral Mucoadhesive Gels in the Management of Minor Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis: A Randomized, Double-blind, Vehicle-controlled Study.” Journal of oral pathology & medicine: official publication of the International Association of Oral Pathologists and the American Academy of Oral Pathology 43, no. 6 (2014): doi:10.1111/jop.12130.
  3. Carvalhinho, Sara, Ana Margarida Costa, Ana Cláudia Coelho, Eugénio Martins, and Ana Sampaio. “Susceptibilities of Candida Albicans Mouth Isolates to Antifungal Agents, Essentials Oils and Mouth Rinses.” Mycopathologia 174, no. 1 (2012): doi:10.1007/s11046-012-9520-4.
  4. Gupta, Charu, Archana Kumari, A Pankaj Garg, R Catanzaro, and F Marotta. “Comparative Study of Cinnamon Oil and Clove Oil on Some Oral Microbiota.” Acta bio-medica : Atenei Parmensis 82, no. 3 (2011): 197-9.
  5. Ajagannanavar, Sunil Lingaraj, Hemant Battur, Supreetha Shamarao, Vivek Sivakumar, Pavan Uday Patil, and P Shanavas. “Effect of Aqueous and Alcoholic Licorice (glycyrrhiza Glabra) Root Extract Against Streptococcus Mutans and Lactobacillus Acidophilus in Comparison to Chlorhexidine: An in Vitro Study.” Journal of international oral health : JIOH 6, no. 4 (2014): 29-34.

Which herbs & remedies should you always stock in your kitchen?

28 comments
  1. I’m really excited to try this. I’ve been really making changes over time and this is one more thing I want off my chemicals list. We had tons of toothpaste and I had to wait until I used it up and that time is just about here!

  2. can this powder be used over a long period of time, or might it become an irritant with time? Also is it easy on the enamel?

    • I’ve been using this tooth powder for several months and it is not irritating or hard on my enamel.

    • I’ve been using my tooth powder for at least seven years and my teeth are stronger than they were. No more hot and cold sensitivity!

  3. I’m going to add this to my tooth powder that I already use of baking soda, essential oils, and finely ground sea salt. My family is already used to using a powder and so adding these ingredients will not be hard at all. Thanks for the extra information on these herbs. Love this site! Thank you Rosalee and John for always sharing great info!

  4. I have been using “ecodent” tooth powder and “Uncle Harry’s” toothpowder for years, as any toothpaste with glycerine in it (which is all tooth “pastes”, b/c glycerine makes it that way, as I”ve read) slowly erodes tooth enamel. I’ve been waiting for a how to recipe, and excited to try it. thank u.

  5. I would love to buy a book written by you. Do you know of any uk stockists please

    • I am writing a book for Hay House that will be published in 2017. Until then you can download my ebook filled with lots of recipes here: https://learningherbs.com/herbal-books/

  6. Homemade tooth powders are wonderful. Thank you for a NEW one to try.

  7. I wonder if the teeth will brown over time when using this brown herbal mix…

    • I doubt it will and I haven’t seen that in the several months that I’ve been using it. I first learned from Lesley Tierra that cinnamon powder is actually used for lightening the teeth.

    • I’ve been making and using a tooth powder for years, not this formulation but mine contains these herbs, and my teeth are whiter than they used to be.

  8. Have you ever tried mixing coconut oil with this?

    • I haven’t. Sounds like a great experiment.

    • Sounds like a great way to incorporate oil pulling!

  9. I use myrrh in the tooth powder I make. I think myrrh is fabulous. Thanks for this article.

  10. This looks very good, Rosalee. Thank you for posting the recipe. As for use, my current tooth powder is in a small glass bottle fitted with a shaker top. I simply sprinkle a bit of the powder into the palm of one hand, then dip the moist toothbrush into the powder in my hand. In a short while one can figure out and adjust the proper amount needed to brush teeth. This way, there is little waste and no chance of water getting into the unused portion of tooth powder. I hope this is helpful. Have a great evening.

    • Thanks for that great tip!

  11. Thanks for the recipe, Rosalee! We have been brushing our teeth with a baking soda & raw sesame oil blend (sometimes I add some peppermint EO) for a couple of years now, with great results. This looks like it might be less harsh, so I’m going to make some up and give it a try. Sweet cinnamon as opposed to Cassia?

    • Either cinnamon will work great. Enjoy!

  12. Is there a way to make this using liquid myrrh essential oil?

    • I’m not familiar with using myrrh essential oil.

  13. I have been using Uncle Harry’s Tooth Powder for about two years now and love it, but it would be nice to have something I can make myself when I run out, especially if I can find the ingredients locally.

  14. can be used Myrrh oil ?
    I have not Myrrh powder…

  15. This is the first I’ve ever heard of tooth powders. I can’t wait to try it! Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful info.

  16. Are you using common cassia cinnamon or ceylon cinnamon?

  17. I know there are different qualities/purities of myrrh available. Does this recipe require a higher quality (less impurities) or medicinally speaking would a lower quality work equally as well? Such as myrrh resin for burning (ground up) ?

    Also, could BS be added for a little fizzy?

    And… I just recently read that black sesame seeds can be chewed to whiten teeth. (Ayurvedic)

  18. I’m assuming you spit this out rather than swallow it after brushing?

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