Written by Grove Collaborative

We tried it: What is it like to use toothpaste tablets?

Last Updated: May 26, 2021

What are toothpaste tablets, how do they work, and why would you choose them over paste? Get a real person’s review on this strange take on toothpaste. Grove writer, Kristen Bailey, tried a popular brand of toothpaste tablets, and she’s here to tell you all about it.

I’m sure toothpaste tabs are the bee’s knees, but I only just learned that they even exist, and I haven’t quite come to terms with how I feel about brushing my teeth with something I have to chew first.

Whenever I think about it, I’m inundated with unwanted, intrusive thoughts of brushing my teeth with toast, or spaghetti. But once I settle into the idea, I’m sure I’ll get past it. Here’s my honest experience using toothpaste tablets.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or health related diagnosis or treatment options.

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What is a toothpaste tablet?

Toothpaste tablets are exactly what they sound like — a waterless toothpaste powder that’s pressed into a tablet. Instead of squeezing toothpaste out of a tube and onto your toothbrush, you pop a tablet in your mouth and chew it up into a paste, stick your toothbrush in there, and brush as usual.

Do dentists recommend toothpaste tablets?

Since there hasn’t been a lot of research done on toothpaste tablets, I skulked around some dentists’ blogs to see what they had to say.

Most were pretty noncommittal about whether they would recommend them. They all seem to agree that toothpaste tablets are great for on-the-go and that the ingredients are effective teeth cleaners, but many are concerned that most tabs are fluoride-free, which is no bueno if you want to effectively fight tooth decay and strengthen your enamel.

Dentists also want you to make sure you distribute the chewed-up paste around your teeth really well, and brush for at least two minutes. And don’t forget to floss.

The claim: 4 benefits of using toothpaste tablets

Toothpaste kinda grosses me out, especially when dried clumps of it magically appear in the sink despite everyone insisting they would never. They’re liars! And what they do to the toothpaste tube is unmentionable.

So the number-one benefit I can see to using toothpaste tablets is no more goopy messes on the sink, no more fishing the cap out of the drain with a coat hanger when someone buys the wrong brand, and no more dried-up toothpaste blocking the exit hole — even if the lid is attached to the tube.

But will the prospect of no more toothpaste grossness outweigh my aversion to the idea of brushing my teeth with something I’ve just masticated? Maybe. These additional four benefits of toothpaste tablets might help:

1. No harmful ingredients

Because they’re waterless, toothpaste tablets don’t require the chemical preservatives you’ll find in your pre-chewed — jk, gross! — toothpaste. The tablets come in fluoride and fluoride-free versions, and they’re made with plant-based ingredients that have powerful cleaning properties.

2. Less plastic waste

Americans toss out more than 400 million toothpaste tubes every year, which end up in the landfill, since most tubes are made of an aluminum-plastic composite that can’t be recycled. So far, all brands of toothpaste tablets on the market are 100 percent plastic-free products.

3. Travel-friendly

Conventional toothpaste is considered a liquid under the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule, so swapping out your tube for tablets frees up space for other precious elixirs in your carry-on and checked bags. And you won’t ever have to deal with a toothpaste tube squishing open all over your stuff.

4. Water-free

Water makes up 60 to 95 percent of beauty and personal care creams, lotions, liquids, gels, and pastes — and a lot of water is needed to produce the billions of plastic containers they’re sold in. Water-free products, including toothpaste tablets, generally come in eco-friendly, water-conscious packaging.


The future of toothpaste tubes

Colgate is working on a recyclable toothpaste tube that they hope to have in full production by 2025. But it’s made with multiple layers of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which is still plastic — and considering America’s recycling rate is a dismal 32.1 percent, even recyclable toothpaste tubes will largely end up in the landfill.

The experience: How do toothpaste tablets work?

I tried hello Activated Charcoal Toothpaste Tablets with fresh mint and coconut oil since I use hello charcoal toothpaste a few times a week — I figured I’d keep with the dark theme. The tablets arrived in a small black metal canister, and I was immediately in love — and you will be too, if you also have a prized collection of irresistible bottles, boxes, and tins that will totally come in handy for… something… someday.

I opened the tin and sniffed. The tabs smell nice — very minty, but not like mint candy. I set the tablets on the bathroom counter, not quite ready to dive into the experience just yet.

After a few days of procrastinating, I was finally ready to take the plunge, but the tablets were nowhere to be found. I immediately assumed my 11-year-old had taken them — of course, she had. They were in her bathroom, squirrelled away with my good brush and my favorite lipgloss.

“What are you doing with my toothpaste tablets?” I asked. “Using ‘em,” she said. “Really?” “Yeah, they’re kind of weird, I don’t really like them that much, but I like spitting black.”

Okay, then. Well, if she can do it, I can surely do it too.

How to use toothpaste tablets

Toothpaste tablets aren’t complicated to use. You just pop one in your mouth, chomp on it until it’s liquidy, then brush as usual. So after a couple of false starts, I did it! I chewed up the tablet, managed to get my toothbrush into my mouth without drooling black liquid back out, and brushed my teeth as usual. Spit, rinse, big smile in the mirror. Ahhhh. Minty fresh!

Try hello's Charcoal Toothpaste Tablets

Why is activated charcoal good at getting teeth clean? Activated charcoal in toothpaste may help remove surface stains on your teeth. Charcoal is mildly abrasive and is also able to adsorb (yes, we meant to say adsorb) the odors that cause bad breath and tannins that can stain teeth.

To make activated charcoal, high-pressure gas is forced into charcoal to make it more porous. This porousness causes it to be more adsorptive, meaning that it literally adds to its mass by grabbing other molecules, much in the same way that a microfiber cloth cleans by having particles cling to it. This makes these hello Charcoal Toothpaste Tablets especially effective at cleaning hard-to-reach crannies.

Shop hello toothpaste tabs on Grove

The verdict: Not as bad as I thought it would be

As with many things in my life — like making phone calls and putting lace-up shoes on — I dramatically overestimated the misery toothpaste tablets would cause me. I spent far more time (weeks!) dreading chomping on them than I actually did chomping on them (about five minutes.) And sticking my toothbrush into my mouth with a chewed-up substance already in there didn’t gross me out at all — and now I wonder why it does in theory.

My final verdict? Toothpaste tablets definitely aren’t the worst things I’ve ever chewed on, and they left my teeth feeling smooth and clean and my mouth feeling fresh and woke. I probably won’t use them every day, but I would most definitely reach for them in a pinch — and I would certainly recommend them to my traveling friends and family and those who want to reduce their plastic waste, collect sweet tins, or spit black.

Note: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

About the author: Kristen Bailey is a writer in the Midwest who is no longer afraid of toothpaste tablets. She’s been writing and editing for Grove since 2020.

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