You’ve all heard of toothpaste and probably use it daily, right? Invented back in the 1880s, toothpaste comes in a gel-like consistency, packed in plastic or plastic/metal tube. But have you heard that there is an eco-friendly alternative to toothpaste, which is called a toothpaste tablet or toothpaste tab? Well, here we’ll make a rundown of the efficacy and environmental impact on toothpaste tubes and toothpaste tabs. Also, we’ll touch upon the ingredients and the overall usefulness of each and try to outline which is better; let’s begin.
Toothpaste in a Tube
Toothpaste in a tube is the most common oral hygiene ingredient and one that is used by billions of people twice a day. It is because toothpaste tubs are the most commonly found oral hygiene items in stores worldwide, and people are used to buying them. Another thing to point out here is that toothpaste tubes come in more varieties, promising more “miraculous” results, but have started selling in smaller sizes.
Yep, and this means that people usually consume a tube of toothpaste faster and end up contributing more and more plastic waste. The toothpaste market is valued at about $18 billion globally, and by some estimation, about 1.5 billion plastic toothpaste tubes are thrown away worldwide yearly. And no, these don’t go in the recycle bin but end up in landfills, polluting our environment. The plastic used in toothpaste tubes takes about 500 years to decompose, severely damaging our environment.
Toothpaste in a Tablet
There is a plastic-free option for toothpaste tubes, and these are the toothpaste tablets. These are also marketed as eco-friendly, all-natural products that replace regular toothpaste. These usually come in metal or glass containers and are rated as zero-waste products.
Their selling points appeal to many, especially environmentally conscious persons. However, the world is still not switching to using toothpaste tabs, perhaps because of the widespread use of toothpaste tubes and their availability. It is more challenging to buy toothpaste tablets in any store, pharmacy, or supermarket, as either people don’t know about them or can’t buy them as conveniently as toothpaste tubes.
Toothpaste Tubes Are Made with Artificial Ingredients
While the necessary or active substances in toothpaste tubes take up about 15% of the paste mix, the other ingredients don’t actually affect the cleaning of the teeth. Toothpaste in a tube has many other necessary ingredients like gelling agents, humectants (substances that keep it from drying out), colors, preservatives, and sweeteners.
All in all, regular toothpaste contains about 300 ingredients, most of which are artificial ingredients that can adversely affect your teeth and gums without you being aware. These are put in the toothpaste blend to ensure the toothpaste will be thick enough to stay on the toothbrush and will not spoil; it will look and smell nice and taste nice as well, and provide smooth, frothy foam.
An All-Natural Alternative to Toothpaste in a Tube
On the other hand, toothpaste tablets are basically a dehydrated form of toothpaste. However, because these come in a dry form, they don’t require many of the ingredients the toothpaste in a tube has. Chewable toothpaste tablets usually contain only the essential ingredients that help maintain oral hygiene. The most commonly found ingredients in toothpaste tablets are the following:
- Calcium carbonate: is one of the world’s most abundant substances; calcium carbonate is also known as limestone. Finely ground calcium carbonate gently polishes teeth, helps remineralization, and neutralizes the acids in the mouth.
- Sodium bicarbonate: you know this as regular baking soda. It is a common ingredient in toothpaste as it helps fight cavities, removes dirt and stains, and neutralizes acids in the mouth.
- Xylitol: is a natural sweetener that fights bacteria in the mouth; it is also added to make toothpaste sweeter and more pleasant.
- Sodium Chloride: also known as table salt, sodium chloride is added to toothpaste (in both tabs and tube versions) because of its antibacterial properties.
- Tartaric acid derivatives –tartaric acid derivatives help bleach the teeth without affecting the protective tooth enamel.
Each ingredient is natural, does not spoil, and is easy to press into a tablet shape. Some of the toothpaste tabs can also contain colors to add to the visual appeal, and some even contain fluoride. Still, these are pre-measured, as you only have to pop one toothpaste tablet into your mouth, chew on it for about 5 seconds and brush your teeth with a moistened toothbrush. It does not matter if you use a manual or an electric toothbrush with the toothpaste tablets, as you get the same user experience you would with regular toothpaste from a tube.
Still, not all is smooth sailing with using toothpaste tabs, and there are some downsides. As these are a relatively new addition to the market, they are tough to find as opposed to regular toothpaste tubes sold everywhere. The same reason also affects the price of toothpaste tablets, as these are often more expensive. People with dental grafts and braces may find them challenging to use, as would small kids.
Can Toothpaste Tablets Prevent Tooth Decay?
We do not favor one or the other type of tooth cleaning option. Still, we are considering all the aspects of both options: toothpaste tablets are marketed as a safe, all-natural, eco-friendly option for oral hygiene. Toothpaste in tubes is also a good, convenient and inexpensive option but considering that billions of these tubes end up in landfills, their use becomes a significant ecological hazard over time.
Most of the toothpaste tabs work like regular toothpaste and are slowly gaining traction; even though they have recently entered the oral hygiene market, they have some advantages over regular toothpaste in a tube, like pre-portioned sizes, all-natural ingredients, and easy travel option. But regular toothpaste in a tube will continue to be a chosen option for many because of its price and convenience. Please note that to protect your oral health and avoid serious dental problems, you should brush your teeth twice a day with a medium-bristle toothbrush and use quality toothpaste; it is up to you to select whether it will come from a tube or in a tablet.