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As eco-conscious consumers, most of us have begun to question our day-to-day reliance on single-use plastic. At home, the bathroom is a hotbed of hard-to-recycle, planet-contaminating containers. Globally, it’s estimated that 1.5 billion tubes of toothpaste are thrown away each year. Most find their way into landfill or the ocean, because their multi-material packaging isn’t widely accepted at recycling centers. Luckily, there is an alternative. Toothpaste tabs are a way of reimagining your environmental impact and one of the biggest trends in oral health care.
“As a dentist who’s environmentally-conscious, I made the switch to toothpaste tabs a few years ago,” says Dr. Afreen Rahman, General Dentist Practitioner at AP Dental Practice in London. While they’re still packed with all the right ingredients to keep your teeth pearly white and cavity-free, instead of arriving in a shell of plastic, they come with minimal to no packaging. Many brands are dedicated to using fully recyclable or compostable containers.
“They can offer a convenient and guilt-free way to keep your teeth clean, especially whilst traveling,” adds Rahman. Water-free, they’re TSA-friendly and conveniently lightweight.
Here are best toothpaste tablets on the market to keep your teeth, and your conscience, clean.
Best Overall: Bite Fresh Mint Toothpaste Bits
Say goodbye to plastic pollution and continue saying hello to fresh, minty breath with these easy-to-use toothpaste tabs. While they don’t contain fluoride (an ingredient used in traditional toothpaste to prevent tooth decay), they are instead made with fluoride-alternative nano-hydroxyapatite. This mineral has been scientifically proven to help remineralize your teeth—aka dentist-speak for leaving your teeth strong and free of cavities and decay.
Bites uses only vegan ingredients, free of sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). If you experience sensitivity when brushing with normal toothpaste, their ingredients, including calcium carbonate to gently clean and polish, are designed to be gentle on your gums and teeth. The tabs come in refillable glass jars, and refills are shipped in biodegradable packets. Shipments are packaged in recyclable paper or cardboard, and Bite uses only existing postal routes to deliver its products to lower the carbon footprint associated with delivery.
“Using the Bite tablets feels different at first when you have spent your life using toothpaste, but it doesn’t take more than a day or two to find it feels perfectly normal and after a week, you wonder why you ever used toothpaste.” – Lloyd Alter, Treehugger Design Editor.
Runner-up Best Overall: Nelson Naturals Crush & Brush Toothpaste Tablets
Another plastic-free option, these tabs come in a glass container and made in Canada. They are meant to be chewed a bit to release their scrubbing and cleansing ingredients, then paired with your usual toothbrush for a detailed clean.
With simple, basic ingredients like calcium carbonate, baking soda, xylitol, cream of tartar, sea salt and peppermint, these tabs keep it simple (and are handy for travel—just bring as many tabs as you’ll need instead of the whole container).
Best with Fluoride: EcoLiving Toothpaste Tablets with Fluoride
Concerned about the long-term impact of not using fluoride on your teeth? Look no further than these toothpaste tabs from EcoLiving. They’re the most traditional of the bunch, packed with 1450ppm fluoride—the optimal amount to prevent tooth decay. However, unlike normal toothpaste, they’re SLS free and palm oil free, meaning you can stand firm in your commitment to protect the world around you. Indeed, this company goes even further: they’re part of the 1% for the Planet and donate a portion of their profits to protect the oceans.
If you’re not already sold, these tabs come in a compostable bag made from plant-based material, cutting out the need for any plastic (although you’ll want a spare mason jar for storage). Each pack contains 125 tablets, so they’re on the more affordable end of the spectrum as they’ll keep you brushing for two whole months.
Best Charcoal: hello Activated Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste Tablets
Although Dr. Afreen Rahman doesn’t recommend products with this ingredient, but activated charcoal has become a popular ingredient in natural self-care products. The science behind this trend is limited, but converts to these tabs say that activated charcoal, made in this case from sustainably sourced bamboo, gently loosens stains and plaque, leaving your teeth white and feeling squeaky clean.
All of the other ingredients are vegan, and this formula does not contain fluoride. A final added bonus is the smart, eco-friendly metal tin they come in. Re-use it any way you see fit once you’ve chewed your way through these 60 minty tabs.
Best Tasting: Lush Boom! Toothy Tabs
The British-based company Lush has been pioneering creative, packaging-free body care for decades. Where they’ve really hit their stride is with colorful, all-natural products that you just can’t help but want to use. These toothpaste tabs are no exception.
Cola might not be a flavor you generally associate with brushing in the morning, but prepare to be amazed: a delicious balance of natural ground chili, black pepper oil, and Persian lime delivers an unexpectedly pleasant explosion to your teeth that lasts all day. Bonus points also go to this brand for the fact they’re 100 percent vegan and their packaging is fully recyclable paper.
Best Whitening: Chewtab Gentle Whitening Toothpaste Tablets
There’s a lot of things these peppermint tabs aren’t: packed with SLS or genetically modified Xylitol. Instead, they offer a natural alternative to all the nasty chemicals you’ve been trying to escape from in your traditional toothpaste tube.
Packed in a reusable, recyclable glass bottle, these use a dental and baking favorite: baking soda. Thanks to its alkaline pH, it first hardens your tooth enamel before using its gentle, naturally abrasive particles to remove discoloration and leave your teeth whiter. They come in a glass jar, and refills shipped in compostable packs are also available.
Best Natural: Georganics Natural Toothpaste Tablets
These toothpaste tabs were borne from a desire to avoid ingesting synthetic ingredients through traditional toothpaste. As a result, these use only natural, vegan, and organic products, all sourced locally from their Sussex farm in the English countryside.
Baking soda is once again tasked with removing stains and leaving clean, healthy teeth without any damage to your enamel. Along for the ride is cream of tartar, which helps with gentle whitening, plus organic peppermint oil that leaves your whole mouth tasting sparklingly fresh. All packaging is either recyclable or compostable, making this an easy win for the planet.
How do you use a toothpaste tab?
Using toothpaste tabs is certainly a new experience. To use a toothpaste tab, start by lightly biting the tab to break it up a bit. Then with a wet toothbrush, start to brush while also distributing the bits around your mouth. The tab will foam and dissolve into a texture that’s more like the toothpaste that comes in a tube.
Once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll soon be wondering why you didn’t make the switch years ago.
What to Look For in Toothpaste Tabs
When purchasing toothpaste tabs, a key decision is whether you want to include fluoride. You might be worried about using fluoride and there remains controversy surrounding its links with various health conditions, however studies have yet to find any convincing evidence to support these concerns.
Dr. Rahman strongly recommends picking toothpaste tabs “containing between 1350-1550 PPM fluoride,” as fluoride is “scientifically proven to reduce tooth decay and protect your teeth.” She also recommends against using toothpaste tabs with activated charcoal “as this can often be very abrasive to your teeth and wear them away.”
Another thing to watch out for that you don’t want is sodium lauryl sulfate, known as SLS. It’s a foaming agent most often found in soaps and toothpastes but is a no-no for two reasons. Firstly, it can cause irritation and mouth ulcers and secondly, it may be derived from palm oil, which is a huge contributor to tropical deforestation.
Why Trust Treehugger?
We’ve researched and tried many brands of tabs to help you pick the right one for you. All our recommendations are vegan.
Treehugger contributor Steph Dyson has over six years’ experience writing about sustainability through a travel lens and has spent months trying out every type of low- or no-plastic beauty product in her quest to ditch single-use plastics. She’s a personal fan of Lush’s Boom! Toothy Tabs and has dabbled with various brands over the past four years. She also consulted with a dentist to inform her research.
*Original article online at https://www.treehugger.com/best-toothpaste-tabs-5116283