Toothpaste Tablets – Are They An Effective, Eco-friendly Alternative To Toothpaste In A Tube?

toothpaste tablets
Image by Anastasia Borisova from Pixabay

Toothpaste tablets are promoted as providing an eco-friendly alternative to toothpaste in a tube, but is this just clever marketing? Just how eco-friendly are these products and do they protect your smile as well as conventional toothpastes?

There is certainly no doubt that our use of conventional toothpaste is a bit of an environmental disaster.

There are a number of issues:

  • Most conventional toothpastes on the market contain ingredients derived from palm oil and so contribute to deforestation and the reduction in biodiversity.
  • Worldwide roughly half of the best selling brands of toothpaste still contain microplastics. These tiny indestructible plastic beads are washed down our plug holes and ultimately end up in the ocean. 
  • They are predominantly packaged in plastic-coated, aluminium-lined tubes that aren’t recyclable. Given that we throw away and estimated 1.5 billion empty tubes each year, they make a significant contribution to the plastic in landfill.

If you scan the oral hygiene shelves in your local chemist or supermarket you would be forgiven for thinking that there really is no alternative. It seems toothpaste tablets haven’t yet hit the mainstream and are not widely available, but could they be an effective eco-friendly alternative?

This post will assess the eco-credentials of toothpaste tablets and review the science to see if they actually work.

toothpaste tablets
Copyright: fotohelin

What are Toothpaste Tablets?

Technically, toothpaste tablets aren’t toothpaste at all. Essentially they are a compressed powder fashioned into small, circular shaped tablets.

So, how do you actually use them?

The idea is that you chew, brush and go. The tablet breaks up and reacts to the moisture in your mouth and on your toothbrush, foaming up to create a paste. You then brush your teeth as normal.

toothpaste tablets
Image by Martin Slavoljubovski from Pixabay

Do Toothpaste Tablets Work?

Toothpaste, be that a paste or a tablet must be able to remove plaque, prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Toothpaste tablets tend to use more natural and environmentally friendly ingredients and many are suitable for vegans.

There are six key ingredients in an effective toothpaste:

Abrasives are used to help physically remove plaque, small amounts of food debris and surface stains on your teeth. Microplastics are still widely used as abrasives in many mainstream toothpaste brands. Toothpaste tabs avoid these and use calcium carbonate, charcoal and sodium bicarbonate instead.

Detergents  are used to create a foam. Foaming helps to spread the toothpaste, so that the active ingredients can get into hard to reach places. The most commonly used detergent in conventional toothpaste is sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS). In toothpaste tablets sodium methyl taurate is commonly used as a gentler alternative.

Flavouring is added to help make toothpaste tablets more appealing to use. Minty flavours are the traditional way to go for mouthcare. Most toothpaste tabs contain natural menthol and spearmint oils, although aniseed flavours are increasingly popular.

Sweeteners such as xylitol, stevioside and sorbitol provide a pleasant taste. Xylitol has the added benefit of helping to protect the teeth and gums by killing oral bacteria.

Preservatives prevent bacteria and fungi growing in your toothpaste after it has been opened. Conventional tubes of toothpaste have a water content of about 50%. This means manufacturers must add a range of chemical ingredients such as sodium benzoate and parabens to preserve and stabilise the paste. Dehydrated tablets have less need for these chemicals and tend to use natural preservatives such as acacia gum and yeast extracts.

Fluoride is added to toothpaste to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride works in two ways; it works by replacing calcium and minerals which are naturally lost from the tooth’s surface. It also reduces the ability of the bacteria in the mouth to produce decay-causing acids.

It is worth noting that many toothpaste tablets exclude fluoride. If you want your tablets to have fluoride in them, and research suggests this would be a good idea, look for the presence of sodium monofluorophosphate on the ingredient list.

Toothpaste tablets are designed to be equivalent to regular tubes of toothpaste, but I have been unable to find any clinical studies which compared toothpaste in a tablet form against conventional toothpaste. The ingredients certainly suggest that they should be effective, although the lack of fluoride in many tablet brands is something to be cautious about.

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Are Toothpaste Tablets Better For The Environment?

If you want to look after the planet as well as your pearly whites, toothpaste tablets could be for you.

Toothpaste in a tablet form does not contain water, making them lighter and more compact in comparison to tubes of toothpaste. This reduces water consumption and saves on transport costs giving a smaller carbon footprint.

The packaging tends to be recyclable unlike toothpaste tubes and a number of brands have a zero waste option, like Denttabs available from Anything But Plastic. Using toothpaste tabs will certainly reduce your plastic footprint.

Although ingredients vary from one brand to another, they all have fewer chemical ingredients and are more suitable for vegans. They do not contain preservatives such as parabens which are known to be harmful to the environment.

Toothpaste tablets are certainly more eco-friendly than conventional toothpaste, but at the moment they are considerably more expensive. As demand increases, prices will probably fall, but for the foreseeable future, you can expect to pay a premium.

Please note all this page contains links to our affiliate marketing partners. Please read our affiliate disclosure.

Our Top Toothpaste Tab Picks
  1. Denttabs

We like them because:

  • They taste good, contain fluoride, clean well and freshen your breath.
  • One of the best value for money options of all toothpaste tablets.
  • Available from a wide variety of suppliers.
  • Environmentally considerate packaging
  • More natural ingredients

Buy Denttabs on Amazon

Buy Denttabs from Anything But Plastic

2. Pärla Toothpaste Tablets

We like them because:

  • They are designed and approved by dentists and made in the UK
  • They contain fluoride and have a refreshing minty taste
  • The brand is plastic free, palm oil free and are suitable for vegans (Vegetarian Society approved).
  • You have the choice of a 1 month supply, or 4 months, both of which come with a glass jar.

Buy Pärla Toothpaste Tabs on Amazon

Buy or subscribe also from www.parlatoothpastetablets.com

3. ecoLiving Fluoride Toothpaste Tablets

We like them because:

  • They contain fluoride, are made in the UK and have an amazing taste
  • They are suitable for vegans
  • They are plastic free and ecoLiving plant a tree for every packet bought!

Buy ecoLiving Fluoride Toothpaste Tablets on Amazon

4. Ben & Anna Natural Mint with Fluoride Toothpaste Tablets

We like them because:

  • They contain fluoride, clean well and have a good taste
  • They are suitable for vegans
  • Contain no Parabens or Phthalates

Buy Ben & Anna Natural Mint with Fluoride Toothpaste Tablets on Amazon

5. Lush cosmetics toothy tabs

We like them because:

  • They have a great flavour, clean well and leave the mouth feeling fresh.
  • Easy to buy on the high street
  • Ethical and hand made in the UK
  • They are suitable for vegans
To Sum Up

Toothpaste tablets with fluoride contain all the key ingredients needed to to remove plaque, prevent gum disease and tooth decay, but there are currently no studies which directly compare the effectiveness of toothpaste tablets against conventional toothpaste.

They tend to be made from more natural ingredients and are certainly a more eco-friendly option, but they are a more expensive than conventional toothpastes. 

Maybe it is time for you to ditch the tube and give them a go!

If you want to make your whole bathroom more eco-friendly, we have a range of recommended eco-friendly bathroom products in our shop. Take a look!

 

Please note all this page contains links to our affiliate marketing partners. Please read our affiliate disclosure.

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