Should You Be Using Dental Powder Instead of Toothpaste?

What’s the deal with dental powder? Is it better than toothpaste? How is it made? Here you’ll found out everything you need to know about this tooth cleaner.

toothbrush and toothpaste

Photo by Steven Lilley via Flickr,

We all know what goes into a normal, healthy dental regimen: brushing with toothpaste, using dental floss, and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash. And even if you don’t do the last two steps, toothpaste has always been a staple tooth cleaner since what seems like forever. But did you know that once upon a time, this minty paste wasn’t found in the bathrooms of most people. Instead, something called “dental powder” was used to brush teeth, keeping them clean and fresh.

What is dental power?

Dental powder is mixture of a variety of ingredients to replace toothpaste as a cleaning substance. It often contains baking soda, herbs like cloves, mint, or cinnamon, and an artificial sweetener for taste.

Although the use of dental powder has regained in popularity recently, it’s just another trendy home remedy. According to How Stuff Works, it actually dates back to ancient history as an important part of dental care.

Origin of Dental Power

The first use of dental powder dates back thousands of years to the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese and Romans. Even before Cleopatra was around, the people of Egypt kept their teeth clean with powders or pastes made from burnt eggshells mixed with pumice and the power of ox hooves’ ashes. The Chinese added herbs, salt, and ginseng to enhance the cleaning properties and taste of the powder. Greeks and Romans used crushed bones and oyster shells to make a grittier powder. To prevent bad breath, the Romans also added powdered bark and charcoal to their teeth cleaner.

Around 1000 A.D., the Persians realized the danger of overly abrasive tooth powders that cause tooth damage. So they created a milder substance using burnt snail shells, herbs, and honey.

In the 18th century, Britain was the first to market tooth powder. Baking soda was usually the key component, and they added more abrasive substances like brick dust, earthenware, and cuttlefish to thoroughly polish teeth.  

From powder to paste

By the early 19th century, two other important ingredients were added to common dental power: Borax for a foaming effect, and glycerin turning the powder into a paste. This made the product easier to use and added a more cleansing effect. Later on, toothpaste was put into collapsible tubes and contained fluoride to strengthen tooth enamel. Thus, toothpaste as we know it today was born.

Dental Powder vs. Toothpaste

Both dental powder and traditional fluoridated toothpaste work well as tooth-cleaning agents. But which one is better for you? Here are the pros and cons of each:

Traditional Fluoridated Toothpaste

  • Pros:

    • Easy and convenient to use

    • Gently cleans and polishes teeth

    • The American Dental Association recommends fluoride strengthen teeth and reduces cavities

  • Cons

    • Contains fluoride, which is poisonous if swallowed

    • Glycerin leaves a film on teeth preventing remineralization

Tooth Powder

  • Pros

    • Studies have shown that tooth powder can be more effective at removing plaque than toothpaste.

    • Most tooth powders are composed of natural and organic ingredients.

    • Because it does not contain fluoride, it is non-toxic and safer for children.

  • Cons

    • Powder is less convenient to clean with than a paste.

    • Herbs and clay can leave a funny texture in the mouth after use

Beneficial Ingredients Dental Power

The key ingredients in dental powder are what make this product very beneficial for teeth:

  • Bentonite Clay
    This clay naturally binds to toxins, helping eliminate heavy metal toxins from mercury fillings. Plus, it’s rich in minerals that are nourishing to gums and teeth.

  • Sea Salt
    Unrefined sea salt is helpful for healing irritated gums and contains a plethora of tooth-benefitting minerals.

  • Baking Soda
    Baking soda is a long-time trusted tooth cleaner. It works as a gentle abrasive to gently polish teeth and clean and whiten your smile.

  • Xylitol
    Xylitol not only adds a sweeter taste to the powder, but also can benefit your oral health. It naturally stimulates saliva production, which helps protect and remineralize teeth. Stevia is another good option if you wish to use a different sweetener.

  • Sage
    For years, cultures around the world have used sage as a natural tooth-whitener.

  • Cloves
    Cloves not only tastes great; it’s also a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient to help sore gums.

  • Essential Oils
    Essential oils have an endless list of benefits. Peppermint oil is a great choice for dental powder because it is naturally antiseptic and antibacterial. On top of having pain-relieving properties, it also leaves your mouth feeling minty and fresh.

Make your own dental powder


  • 3 tablespoons of bentonite clay

  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda

  • 2 tablespoons of calcium powder

  • 1 teaspoon of pure sea salt

  • 1 tablespoon of dried ground sage

  • 1 tablespoon of xylitol powder (for sweetness)

  • 1 teaspoon to tablespoon of Cloves or Cinnamon (or both, depending on the flavor you prefer)

  • Mint, spearmint, or other essential oils for taste


  1. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl or pint sized mason jar. Mix them together using a non-metal spoon. (Bentonite clay loses some of its beneficial properties when it comes in contact with metal, so it’s best to use plastic, glass or wooden bowls, containers, and spoons when making your dental powder.

  2. Add essential oils by dripping them into the mixture. Stir well.

  3. Keep the powder in a sealed container. Because it doesn’t have any liquid ingredients, it should last an indefinite amount of time on your counter without any problems.

Brushing with Dental Powder

Using tooth powder is similar to brushing teeth with toothpaste. Simply wet your toothbrush and dip it into the powder. Or if you’re using a small squirt bottle, carefully squirt the powder onto a wet toothbrush. Brush teeth holding the brush at a 45 degree angle, thoroughly cleaning your teeth. Brush for at least 2 minutes. Then, rinse your toothbrush and mouth with cool water. You can use this multiple times a day.

You can use dental powder as a replacement for toothpaste. However, you can still use toothpaste after you brush with tooth powder.

Keeping up with an Oral Health Regimen

Of course taking care of your teeth requires more than just using tooth powder. To keep teeth healthier and whiter, try sticking to this dental regimen:

  • Brush teeth at least twice a day, morning and night after meals.

  • Floss and rinse regularly to keeps gums healthy and bacteria at bay.

  • Change out your toothbrush every three months or so. Make sure that you clean it thoroughly after each use.

  • Keep up with regular dental check-ups and cleanings to keep your teeth in prime condition.

So which do you prefer to brush with: dental powder or traditional toothpaste? Let us know in the comments below!

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