Tooth powders are making a comeback and are becoming more and more popular. These products may not be available yet in many stores. But several online stores are now offering them and they are selling fast. This may be the first time for many of us to hear about tooth powders. What are they anyway and how are they different from regular toothpastes? Should I ditch my toothpaste and go with tooth powder instead?   

Tooth powder

Tooth powder is toothpaste in powder form. It originated thousands of years ago. Many ancient people use it to polish and clean their teeth, as well as remove mouth odor. The earlier forms of tooth powder made use of natural ingredients.  These include myrrh, burned eggshells, ashes from crushed animal bones, and oyster shells.

During the 19th century, some tooth powders that contained salt, chalk, or baking soda. Some tooth powders also come in tablet form to avoid wastage and mess. Tooth powders also come in flavors like peppermint. They may also contain the following ingredients:

  • Cleaning detergents
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate and silica
  • Fluoride
  • Baking Soda
  • Activated Carbon
  • Bentonite clay
  • Scents and fresheners
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Essential oils

These ingredients fight plaque, bad breath, and bleeding gums.

The American Dental Association gives a seal of approval to tooth paste and powders.  They must first contain fluoride to get approved. But not all products contain this. Make sure to always check the label of these products for the ingredients.

To use tooth powder, sink the toothbrush bristles into the bottle. Shake off the excess powder. Once you have a small amount of powder on the bristles, brush your teeth the same way you do with toothpaste.


Around 1850, toothpaste replaced tooth powders. The earlier toothpastes came in bottles. They also contained ingredients such as chalk and soap. They were common in toothpastes until the early 1900s. Much safer cleaning ingredients soon replaced them.

Fluoride became widespread in 1914. Soon, it became the most common ingredient in toothpastes.

Many toothpaste brands today contain the following ingredients:

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Sodium fluoride.
  • Thickeners
  • Moisturizers
  • Various types of fragrances

Toothpaste is still the standard when it comes to oral health. Tooth pastes are effective in cleaning teeth. But you can use toothpaste or tooth powder as long as they contain similar ingredients.

Tooth Paste Vs. Tooth Powder

There are a few differences between tooth powders and toothpastes. Toothpastes contain thickeners and moisturizers, but tooth powders do not.

Tooth powder requires the addition of water to brush your teeth. Toothpastes are much easier to use as you can apply them right away. Also, even when they contain flavorings, powders can still leave an aftertaste.

Another difference is availability. Toothpastes are available in many stores. Tooth powders are a little bit more difficult to find. Tooth powders are available at online stores or specialty stores.  

When it comes to price, tooth powders are as affordable as toothpastes. Your choice may depend on your lifestyle and needs.


Tooth powder is more effective in cleaning the surfaces of the teeth. But they also come with negative effects. According to one study, tooth powder can cause bleeding and gum loss. They can also damage the enamel which coats the tooth surface.

There are also varying opinions when it comes to tooth powders. One study showed that tooth powder causes a higher risk in tooth loss. This is because tooth powder can be too abrasive.

Another study confirms tooth powders to be effective against plaque and gingivitis. The research on the safety on tooth powders is still ongoing. More data is still needed.

Which is more effective for cleaning teeth?

Toothpastes and tooth powder are not that different from each other. But studies show that fluoride is effective in cleaning teeth. Not a lot of products contain this ingredient.

Also, only a few tooth pastes and powders can remove intrinsic stains. Intrinsic stains are stains that come from inside the tooth, not on the surface.

The following causes intrinsic stains:

Some drinks, such as coffee, tea and red wine, as well as cigarettes can cause extrinsic stains. To remove stains, products with whitening may help.