The 8 Best Natural Toothpastes of 2021

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Most of us brush our teeth once or twice a day, every day. Good habits like these are key to lifelong good health, and it’s the products we use regularly that could affect that health the most. That’s why more naturally based toothpastes exist—as more people prefer to avoid daily exposure to the artificial colors, flavors, and other chemicals that are commonly found in conventional toothpastes. 

Those ingredients, including foaming agents like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and diethanolamine, dyes, and flavors, don’t lead to cleaner teeth. After all, it’s not necessary for toothpaste to be a particular color, flavor, or to foam a lot—it can clean well without these ingredients.  

There’s even some evidence that SLS could have negative effects on gum health when used every day. “SLS is a harsh ingredient that is also found in detergent," says Dr. Pooneh Ramezani, a dentist who has researched natural products extensively. "SLS or sulfate derivatives have a tendency to dry out the mouth, making the environment more susceptible to cavities." This harsh chemical in toothpaste could also cause canker sores, irritation of gums and soft tissues and pain she says. Dr. Ramezani recommends using a toothpaste that’s naturally low-foaming and free of SLS.

Here are our top picks for the best natural toothpastes:

The Rundown
Made in the United States, this paste comes in a recyclable metal tube and get top marks for ingredient safety.
Thanks to the berry flavor from cranberries and sweetness courtesy of stevia, this one is a kid favorite.
The old-school natural toothpaste, Tom's of Maine is easy to find almost anywhere toothpaste is sold.
Available in eight vegan flavors, Green Beaver is a fun choice if you’re looking for something different.
These liquid drops are an extra-gentle-for-the-gums replacement for toothpaste.
This Sensodyne toothpaste gets a good score on EWG's list, containing ingredients to help relieve tooth sensitivity.
Best Toothpaste Tabs + Best Plastic-Free:
Bite Fresh Mint Toothpaste Bits at Bitetoothpastebits.com
Toothpaste tabs are eco-friendly in a number of ways.
This EWG-certified tooth powder is made with just six ingredients, but it's not vegan.

Best Overall: Davids Herbal Citrus Peppermint Toothpaste

Davids Herbal Citrus Peppermint Toothpaste

Made in the United States with 98 percent of its ingredients sourced from the U.S. too, this toothpaste comes in a metal tube that you wind with a key—which means it’s more easily recycled than the plastic tubes most paste comes in.

It includes natural anti-plaque and whitening ingredients, like calcium carbonate and xylitol derived from birch trees, and it’s sodium lauryl sulfate free. It has a truly unique and delicious fruity mint flavor and a bit of stevia for sweetness, and it's verified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) for ingredient safety.

Best for Kids: Kiss My Face Kids Fluoride Free Smart Gel Toothpaste

Kiss My Face Kids Fluoride Free Toothpaste

This one is enjoyed by kids, thanks to the berry flavor from cranberries and sweetness courtesy of stevia. A gel formula, it’s free of artificial flavors and colors, as well as triclosan and SLS. It cleans with glycerin and aloe vera, scrubs with silica, and kills bacteria with tea-tree oil.

One drawback is that it's packaged in both a plastic tube and a paperboard box.

Best Drugstore: Tom's of Maine Whole Care® Toothpaste

Tom's of Maine Whole Care Toothpaste

Tom’s of Maine made a name for itself with natural toothpaste starting in the 1970s and they are one of the few natural toothpaste brands you can find in most drugstores and grocery stores. They made a variety of pastes and gels, including for kids, and sensitive teeth.

Whole Care paste comes in a cinnamon clove flavor and three different mint flavors and contains no artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colors, or flavors. It has fluoride and gets a good rank from EWG. However, it does contain SLS. Tom's of Maine does say some of their tubes can be recycled, either through Terracycle or in some cases local curbside recycling.

Best Flavor Variety: Green Beaver Natural Fluoride Free Toothpaste

Green Beaver Toothpaste

Available in eight vegan flavors, including green apple, orange, cinnamon, star anise, two different mints, and an exotic cilantro-mint, Green Beaver is a fun choice if you’re looking for something different.

Ingredients include calcium carbonate, glycerin and silica for scrubbing and cleaning and vitamin C, xylitol and GMO-free coconut. It’s made in Canada and comes in a plastic tube and paperboard box.

Best Toothpaste Alternative: Fat and the Moon Anise & Clove Tooth Cleanse

Fat and the Moon Anise & Clove Tooth Cleanse

These liquid drops are an extra-gentle-for-the-gums replacement for toothpaste with no minty flavor, and a slight soapiness to them. That’s because the first ingredient is Castile soap—and others include coconut oils and essential oils of clove, myrrh, and more. The texture might take some getting used to, and it's not for everyone.

To use, just put one or two drops on your toothbrush and brush normally. It's important to note that this cleanse is designed to be paired with a scrub with a more abrasive agent every couple of weeks, like Fat and the Moon suggests their Tooth Polish (view on Fat and the Moon). It comes in an easily recyclable or reusable glass container.

This product has not been rated by the EWG.

Best for Sensitive Teeth: Sensodyne Extra Whitening Toothpaste

Sensodyne Extra Whitening Toothpaste

The well-known leader in toothpastes for sensitive teeth, this Sensodyne toothpaste gets a good score on EWG's list, and contains ingredients to help relieve tooth sensitivity. The rest of the formula is pretty simple, but it does have SLS and not everyone likes the taste. It comes packaged in a standard plastic tube and paperboard box.

Best Toothpaste Tabs + Best Plastic-Free: Bite Fresh Mint Toothpaste Bits

Bite Toothpaste Bits - Fresh Mint

If you want to avoid SLS, fluoride and plastic waste, then you might consider toothpaste tabs. They're also great for travel because you won't have to worry about TSA gel or liquid limits.

Bite's Fresh Mint Bits are a Treehugger favorite, because they're vegan, use fluoride-alternative nano-hydroxyapatite, and come in refillable glass jars. Refills come shipped in recyclable and lightweight cardboard packages.

Best Tooth Powder: Happy Tooth Powder

Happy Tooth Powder

This tooth powder is made with just six ingredients—but one of those is derived from an animal so it’s not vegan. Other ingredients include over 25 percent xylitol from Birch trees, which has been proven to have antibacterial properties and may also have whitening effects, three different calcium compounds, and other ingredients include baking soda and three different calcium compounds.

Happy tooth powders come in eight possible flavors, including kid-friendly (or kid-at-heart) options like watermelon, strawberry, and pumpkin, in addition to cinnamon, anise, and mint. The unflavored option is EWG certified. The ingredients are mostly sourced from the United States, including the flavorings.

Final Verdict

If you are looking for a natural toothpaste with no plastic packaging, we recommend Davids (view at The Detox Market). If you're willing to venture outside the tube, consider the tooth powder (view at Happy Tooth) or tabs (view at Bite).

FAQs

What makes a toothpaste "natural"?

There is no legal definition of "natural," which means that just about any self-care product can use this label, regardless of ingredients. Generally, natural toothpastes have fewer synthetic ingredients, particularly dyes and flavors.

What about fluoride?

There’s a great divide in toothpastes: Those with fluoride and those without. About 75 percent of American community water supplies have added fluoride in them, and that, along with widespread use of toothpaste with added fluoride, is credited with reducing the number of cavities people get.

The American Dental Association backs community water fluoridation as well as toothpastes containing fluoride. But there’s disagreement in the dental community, and some dentists think that the evidence for fluoride in water and toothpastes isn’t strong enough. What is known is that in larger amounts, fluoride is poisonous. That’s why toothpaste labels say not to swallow the paste and to call poison control, especially if kids swallow paste instead of spitting it out.

Some people prefer to avoid fluoride in their toothpaste. Some of the brands on this list offer toothpastes with it, but generally, nature toothpaste brands tend not to have the ingredient. So if you do want fluoride, look for that on the package when buying. 

What’s xylitol and why is it in so many natural toothpastes?

Xylitol is found in many plants and is usually extracted from birch trees. Chemically, it’s a type of alcohol that’s a carbohydrate (and it doesn’t actually contain alcohol). Xylitol is used as a natural zero-calorie sweetener and also in dental products. 

Unlike other carbohydrates, xylitol doesn’t break down in the mouth (so it can’t cause cavities).  In fact, just the opposite occurs: “The bacteria that is responsible for cavities is called Streptococcus mutans and it can't utilize xylitol to grow. Over time, fewer and fewer of these bacteria survive on tooth surfaces, therefore, decreasing tooth decay,” says Dr. Ramezani. 

So xylitol is a popular ingredient in natural toothpastes and other dental care products. However, some people may be sensitive to xylitol. The small amount of xylitol used in oral care products is usually well-tolerated says Dr. Ramezani. "But some people may experience bloating and diarrhea which are mild and go away shortly.” However, if this does happen to you, stop using the product.

What is hydroxyapatite?

Hydroxyapatite is an alternative to fluoride and is not associated with any health concerns. It's found in a number of natural toothpastes. Hydroxyapatite has actually been used in Japan for years says Dr. Ramezani. "This mineral is naturally derived, and makes up 90 percent of our tooth enamel," she says. "It has been proven to help mineralize, protect and strengthen teeth."

Can I make my own natural toothpaste?

Making your own toothpaste is one way to avoid plastic packaging and possibly save money. Check out Treehugger's recipes for homemade natural toothpaste.

Why Trust Treehugger?

After consulting with a dentist, we looked for toothpastes that are free from SLS (we've noted which picks use this ingredient). We don't recommend anything that gets poor marks from the Environmental Working Group for ingredients safety, although we have recommended some products that have not been evaluated by EWG.

All the choices on this list are vegan, except for the tooth powder. We also consider the impact of toothpaste packaging.

Author Starre Vartan has been researching and reviewing environmentally sustainable products for 15 years and wrote a book on eco-friendly, healthy living. She grew up using baking soda to brush her teeth and now uses whatever natural brand toothpaste is on sale.

View Article Sources
  1. "Water Fluoridation Data and Statistics." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  2. Cury, Jaime A., et al. "Systemic Effects (Risks) of Water Fluoridation." Brazilian Dental Journal, vol. 30, no. 5, 2019, pp. 421-428., doi:10.1590/0103-6440201903124

  3. "Water-Related Diseases - Fluorosis." World Health Organization.

  4. "Hydroxyapatite." Environmental Working Group.