Are toothpaste tabs the future? – the pros and cons

The green hygienist

Lottie Manahan weighs up the pros and cons of toothpaste tabs – and why they might just be the future.

The majority of empty toothpaste tubes end in landfill due to the combination of plastic and aluminium making it almost impossible to recycle

Saying that there are now many new toothpaste tubes on the block that can be recycled thanks to Colgate’s initiative – but toothpaste tabs seem to be popping up everywhere. So I thought Id investigate what the fuss is about and if we should be recommending them to our patients.

Toothpaste tabs are designed to be a plastic-free alternative to plastic tubes. They include all the same active ingredients as pastes but are dehydrated and condensed into a small tablet.

You simply place a tablet in the mouth, add water then chew it up to create a paste to brush with.

There are many benefits when it comes to switching to tabs.

Here are the pros:

  • No waste. There is always paste left in those tough tubes!
  • Eco friendly – the tabs are designed to reduce plastic waste. For example, they are usually placed in reusable jars and wrapped in packaging that can decompose which is fantastic
  • Perfect dose – a tablet contains the perfect amount of ingredients for that brushing session
  • Easy to travel with as they take up less space and weight in the case
  • Contain the ingredients needed to clean teeth with the benefits of fluoride, calcium carbonate, tartaric acid etc (check with brand)
  • Mess free – there’s no dried pastes around the tubes, toothbrushes or around the sink
  • Clean – low risk of cross-contamination unlike tubes that hang in the bathroom
  • Nice, minty tastes and after trying my teeth felt clean and fresh afterwards
  • Often purchased in batches to keep carbon footprint down
  • Ultimately, they DO NOT ruin our planet for 500+ years.

Downfalls of using tabs:

  • Very expensive compared to tubes on the market
  • Many people I’ve asked feel the tabs are less effective at removing plaque. This could be due to no SLS foaming action?
  • Some foam more than others but people really enjoy this from the pastes
  • May be a choking hazard – not safe for all ages and should be kept shut away in family bathrooms
  • On research found some don’t contain fluoride, which can confuse consumers. It’s important to understand which brands do what
  • Limited research available. This doesn’t prove long-term benefits. More research needed because as professionals, we rely on it
  • Some advertise whitening but no evidence
  • Tabs rely on saliva in your mouth to help with added water to hydrate the tablet. Patients with low saliva wouldn’t get the full benefits and could cause irritations in the mouth.

My favourite tabs on the market

Parla – these are made by dentists, which I think is always important when designing an oral health product. They have a great taste and foam up more than other tabs I’ve tried. Priced at approx £6.95 a month (62 tabs).

Truthtabs – love how minty these tablets are and at a great price. Priced at £10.00 for three months (186 tabs).

Overall I think the market has a lot of room for tabs but would love to see more research in place which I know is difficult with the smaller startups but important from a dental professionals point of view.

Order some tabs and find your favourite so when your patient asks about them you can give a strong recommendation you’ve personally tried.

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