We're going to talk about natural care of your smile. What do people notice when they first meet you? Your smile, of course. Who wants to be remembered for having yellowy-brown teeth? No one. Everyone wants gleaming white choppers. They simply brighten your face. Most dentifrices available today contain harsh abrasives, saccharin, sugar, detergents, and/or bleaches. Combine these ingredients with the twice-daily use and misuse of toothbrushes (especially the use of "firm-bristled" toothbrushes) and the result is tooth enamel and gum tissue suffering from extra wear and tear. Additionally, if you frequently use commercial, chemical-based bleaching solutions to whiten your smile, these too, can cause thinning of the enamel and gum sensitivity. You can make simple, yet effective and pleasant-tasting, natural dentifrices at home that will leave your teeth sparkling, breath fresh, and your gums in the pink. Here are 3 recipes for you to try. I'll give you one of my favorite herbal toothpaste recipes in my next blog. Step Back Plaque 1. In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 1 drop of essential oil of orange, anise, fennel, spearmint, peppermint, or cinnamon. Dip a wet toothbrush into this mixture and brush your teeth as usual to fight plaque buildup, gently whiten teeth, and neutralize mouth odor. 2. Try strawberries for a whiter smile! Mash a very, very ripe strawberry into a pulp. Dip your toothbrush into the pulpy liquid and brush normally. Strawberries produce a slight bleaching action from the mild fruit acid they contain. Rinse thoroughly after brushing. This procedure can be repeated up to 3x per week. 3. Out on a weekend camping trip and forgot your toothbrish? Never fear . . . simply peel a 3- or 4-inch twig freshly cut from a sweet gum (tupelo), flowering dogwood, sugar maple, or sassafrass tree and chew on the end until it is frayed and soft. Now, gently rub your teeth and gums. The twig can also be dipped in water and baking soda, if you desire. NOTE: The above article was adapted from the book, "Organic Body Care Recipes", by Stephanie Tourles, Storey Publishing 2007. The information is true and complete to the best of Ms. Tourles' knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Ms. Tourles. She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. It is for educational purposes only.