There are numerous ways to help alleviate the planet’s waste problem. From choosing to wear clothing made from sustainable fabrics, or reusing coffee cups. While we cannot commit to zero-waste in a snap, small steps from each of us can make a huge difference.
Five years ago, I switched from standard sanitary napkins to menstrual cups. I haven’t looked back ever since. Greater convenience and comfort – and hundreds of pads saved from landfills.
I wanted to contribute more to the environment, and a recent innovation caught my attention: toothpaste tablets.
Making the switch to toothpaste tablets
What are toothpaste tablets?
Toothpaste tablets are waterless toothpaste powder compressed into a tablet. You pop a tablet in your mouth and chew, allowing your saliva (or you can chug a bit of water), to turn it into a paste and brush as usual.
Compared to traditional toothpaste stored in plastic tubes that are difficult to recycle, toothpaste tablets are stored in reusable jars or tins that consumers can refill.
The tablets are travel-friendly eco-friendly, and – companies claim – work as well as regular toothpaste.
My experience using toothpaste tablets
Okay sold! I crackled my knuckles and went on to good ol’ Google to find me a local brand of tooth tabs. The brand I found? Kintab – which means “shiny” in Filipino.
Like other toothpaste tablets sold worldwide, Kintab comes in two variants: fluoride-free and with fluoride. Playing it safe, I picked the one with fluoride, which is known to prevent tooth decay and strengthen the enamel. In addition, only toothpaste with fluoride has the stamp of approval from the American Dental Association (ADA).
“Toothpaste should be able to remove plaque, prevent gum disease and tooth decay, and fluoride is a big part of that,” Dr James Fernando, dentist and research fellow at Melbourne Dental School, told The Guardian
I bought the travel size that costs 245 pesos (around US$4) that contains 60 tablets, good for a month. The tablets are naturally flavoured with rosemary, clove, and peppermint (yum), and the jar can be refilled when empty.
Here’s also the complete ingredient list on the company’s website:
Cellulose, Erythritol, Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Lauryl Sarcosinate, Xanthan Gum, Peppermint Oil, Magnesium Stearate, Calcium Silicate, Clove Bud Oil, Rosemary Oil, Sodium Fluoride F-1,500 ppm(only in the fluoridated variant), Steviol Glucosides.
On first try, the experience felt funny. The bits and pieces chewed, with my brain thinking it was candy that I need to swallow. I also thought if my saliva was enough for it to “lather”, but after a few brush strokes, it felt like using regular toothpaste. It also tastes better, is fresher, sweeter, and has no chemical after-taste.
My teeth felt clean – just like they feel after using a regular paste.
The jar was also tinier than I expected and fits conveniently into my purse (more so than a mini toothpaste tube) when I go out. Definitely travel-friendly, so no risk of tube accidents where the paste gets squeezed out leaving a sticky mess during trips.
After a few months of using toothpaste tablets, I have to admit that I don’t consider going back to regular tubes as long as the tablets are still available on the market. My teeth didn’t decay (thankfully lol), my breath smells fresher longer (I can’t explain why), and I love the refill factor, which doesn’t just save me money, but also helps prevent tubes from going into the bin.
I’m keen on trying other brands, but unfortunately, there are only two companies in the Philippines producing toothpaste tablets as of writing – Kintab and Toothy Tabs.
Interview with Kintab Tooth Tabs
My curiosity got the best of me, so I sent a message to Kintab asking if I could ask a few questions of the brand’s owner, Guilian Sencio. I wanted to learn more about toothpaste tablets first-hand from their creator.
“Our company, Kintab Toothtabs, is all about promoting an ethical consumer-health lifestyle,” Sencio tells Viable.Earth. “We specialise particularly in oral health, so we manufacture and sell toothpaste tablets, bamboo toothbrushes, and other upcoming oral health products.”
He shared that he saw a need in the Philippine market for an effective, zero-waste, vegan oracle care brand. His partner, friend Genevieve, came up with the idea of offering toothpaste tablets that are already common in Europe, North America, and Australia.
“We lamented the lack of quality tablets currently available in the Philippines. So we went ahead and did R&D with a local pharmaceutical manufacturing company and another local pharmaceutical materials distributor.”
Sencio said that the biggest challenge the company experienced was making sure the supply chain was as ethical and circular as possible. Raw materials still came in plastic bags, crates, and drums, and it felt (close to) impossible to eliminate that kind of waste in the manufacturing and purchasing process.
“But eventually, we realised that we had to take responsibility for all the waste that our supply chain was making and took custody of all such waste for proper recycling and processing,” he explained.
According to Sencio, the brand decided to use refillable glass jars with caps made with high-density polyethylene (HDPE) because metal caps tend to rust in moist and damp environments like bathrooms. For the refills, they come in fully recyclable and compostable cardboard packaging.
He also believes that toothpaste tablets can clean as well, or even better than commercial toothpaste.
“Our ingredients practically mirror standard toothpaste but with vegan and ethical components. Some also swear that it works well for their sensitive teeth since clove oil acts as a natural desensitiser like what dentists use called eugenol,” he added.
While toothpaste tablets are definitely more eco-friendly, there aren’t enough scientific studies that compare their effectiveness to traditional toothpaste. My review is based on personal experience, and it’s still best to talk to your dentist before transitioning to tablets.