When I started to reduce waste in the bathroom, I didn’t think I would find an alternative for toothpaste anytime soon. Toothpaste in a plastic tube just seemed to be the default. However, as the zero waste movement took off and zero waste shops started to appear across the country, a variety of new zero waste products appeared too. Zero waste and natural teeth cleaning products can now be found in three different forms: Pastes, powders and tablets. As the word toothpaste doesn’t really capture this variety, I’ll use teeth cleaning products instead.
In the dental care section of my shop, you can find Truthpaste, Georganics powders and Denttabs tablets.
What are they?
Natural and zero waste teeth cleaning products are an eco-friendly alternative to standard toothpaste for two reasons: (1) They use natural ingredients and (2) avoid the use of plastic tubes.
How do they work?
Using them is just as easy as squeezing a tube, but slightly different depending on the form it comes in:
- Toothpaste (e.g. Truthpaste): Either use a small spatula or spoon to apply some paste to your brush or dip the dry brush into the paste.
- Toothpowder (e.g. Georganics): Wet the brush and dip into the powder. If several people use the same jar, you can also decant a little bit into the lid and wash it out afterwards.
- Tablet (e.g. Denttabs): Chew the tablet until it becomes a paste in your mouth and brush as normal. The principle behind the tablets is the same as that behind solid shampoo: conventional toothpaste consists of about 50% water, which requires preservatives and binding agents, that are not needed in the case of waterless tablets.
What are they made of?
Natural products avoid the use of synthetic ingredients, including foaming agents, preservatives and binding agents. Many natural alternatives to toothpaste don’t use fluoride as it is not a natural ingredient. However, fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay, so if you are at risk you might be better off using one with fluoride, such as Denttabs. However, in many areas, fluoride occurs naturally in water and in some it is added to the water to help prevent tooth decay. If you are unsure, consult your dentist about your fluoride intake.
The exact ingredients of natural products depend on your brand of choice, but the main most common ingredients include calcium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate. Both of them are used as a polisher and help to alkalise the mouth to keep the correct pH level and promote remineralisation.
Truthpaste and Georganics use calcium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate as the main ingredients in their products. Truthpaste also contains bentonite clay, which helps to absorb toxins, and other ingredients, such as Neem, Aloe Vera and clover, that are known for their medicinal properties. Georganics powders are great at removing stains and are the natural answer to whitening toothpaste. Denttabs, in turn, use microcrystalline cellulose as a polishing agent as well as sodium bicarbonate.
What are the pros and cons?
Natural teeth cleaning products do the same job as conventional toothpastes just without any synthetic ingredients and the plastic packaging. But the main difference to conventional toothpaste is probably the fact that natural alternatives doesn’t foam. As we have come to associate foaming with cleaning, the non-foaming nature of natural products will probably require the biggest adjustment.
What makes them eco-friendly?
In the UK, around 300 million toothpaste tubes end up in landfill every year as they can’t be recycled, so by switching to zero waste products you can avoid an awful lot of plastic waste.
In addition, producers of zero waste products use ethically sourced, and in many cases organic, ingredients to ensure the sustainability of their products.
Who makes them?
Truthpaste, Georganics and Denttabs are the three main brands I have mentioned throughout the article as I have not only tried them all and like them for one reason or another, but also because they nicely illustrate the different types of natural alternatives on the market.
Truthpaste and Georganics are made by independent businesses in the UK, whilst Denttabs are made in Germany.