Discovering everything from ‘naked gum’ to toothpaste tabs, Dominique Ayling cuts her teeth in the natural oral care market.
No one can claim to enjoy going to the dentist. While we may not want gappy smiles or receding gums, the sound of a drill is enough to send even the most dental care savvy of us running for the hills.
But it’s not just the fear of pain or the horror of someone having a good rummage in your mouth we need to worry about. Consumers are becoming more aware of the ‘nasties’ present in traditional dental products, as well as the harmful effects these chemicals and their plastic packaging have on the environment.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation forecasts there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. 1.5 billion toothpaste tubes end up in landfill or the ocean each year, according to OpenIDEO, with each taking 500 to 700 years to decompose. Luckily, the natural dental care market is expanding with a wealth of new solutions.
Mouthwash not greenwash
It’s only a matter of time before a wider variety of natural oral care finds its way into the mainstream market after the success of bamboo toothbrushes, available nationwide in Boots and Superdrug. Now, consumers can also replace their traditional plastic toothpaste tube with alternatives made from natural ingredients stored in recyclable glass jars, such as those by Ben & Anna, top sellers at Pravera and Holland & Barrett.
“Ben & Anna has been a runaway success as a zero waste brand, with new toothpaste tablets and mouthwash tablets due this summer,” says Graeme Hume, managing director of Pravera.
Ben & Anna uses ingredients including buckthorn, chamomile and activated charcoal, and its products are free of any harmful and controversial ingredients such as phthalates, parabens, microplastics, SLS or formaldehydes.
“We are seeing a move to certified natural and organic brands as the consumer can guarantee integrity,” adds Hume. “There is still a lot of greenwashing and the use of SLS/ALS and sugar in toothcare that needs highlighting, but the market is definitely changing.”
Toothpaste tablets seem to be the most popular development in the sector, with several brands recently introducing new products.
Polished London Toothpaste Tablets – which launched in May, housed in cardboard tubes – contain calcium and sodium carbonate to gently polish and clean teeth, fluoride to prevent decay and kaolin – a natural clay – to remove stains and whiten.
“We wanted to create a healthy product that was environmentally friendly and that everyone could benefit [from],” says brand founder Debbie Sleeman.
“Our Toothpaste Tablets are eco-friendly, vegan and made in the UK. Plastic waste is a global problem and we are aware of how much harm it does to our environment.”
German brand Dent Tabs uses 100% natural ingredients, gentle on teeth and gums. Simply chew the tablet, brush with a wet toothbrush and rinse. “In contrast to a comparable conventional toothpaste, the fluoride is not already dissolved in water with synthetic additives, but only starts reacting by chewing and in connection with saliva,” explains head of marketing, Aileen Wauer. “The fluoride reacts where it should, on the tooth, and thus strengthens the tooth enamel.”
“In 2019 we saved 63 tonnes of plastic and only produced 3.6 tonnes of biodegradable paper pouches with the amount of Dent Tabs toothbrush tablets sold, compared to the same amount of toothpaste.”
A radical disruption
Packaged in reusable and refillable glass jars with aluminium lids, vegan brand Parla Eco’s Toothpaste Tabs are the brainchild of three UK dentists who claim they are here to ‘radically disrupt the outdated toothpaste industry’.
Dental floss, usually contained in plastic packaging and using non-biodegradable nylon, is another major problem as the floss often ends up in the ocean, suffocating marine life or being ingested and causing stomach problems.
But several natural brands are bucking that trend: Yaweco now uses cardboard packaging for its floss which is made from beeswax and silk, so while not suitable for vegans, it can be composted; Georganics does natural dental flosses in charcoal and spearmint varieties, packaged in glass jars with refills available; and the Humble Co uses natural candelilla wax and xylitol with cardboard packaging that also acts as a dispenser.
Anyone who has ever stepped in chewing gum knows how hard it is to remove, so imagine what it’s doing to the environment; the Government spends £60 million annually in attempts to remove it from the streets.
While regular gums use a synthetic, plastic gum base containing chemical elastomers, resins, plasticizers and sometimes fillers like talc, ‘clever by nature’ brand Two Wise Chimps uses sustainably sourced natural chicle sap-based gum from the Mesoamerican rainforests. Each tree is harvested once every seven years and the gum is biodegradable. Since founding in 2019, the brand has expanded from spearmint to introduce charcoal and high-purity CBD variants.
Another company using chicle is plastic-free brand Nuud, which manufactures ‘naturally naked gum’ from plant-based ingredients which include carnauba wax, natural flavourings and xylitol.
So, with the natural dental care market ever expanding and introducing innovative products to meet all needs, there’s no excuse not to turn a daily habit into a healthier and more environmentally friendly one.
View from the toothpaste aisle
Mitch McCarthy, assistant category manager for beauty at Holland & Barrett (H&B), tells us about the growing natural dental care sector.
“We are really excited about Clean Me, our new ‘clean’ entry-level dental range which customers can buy for only £2.50. We have also recently launched Georganics – a staple brand in the natural dental arena. The range consists of beechwood toothbrushes, mouthwash, toothpastes that come in glass jars and natural floss. Their tabs are a new format for us. Finally, we have lots of new dental products from well-known natural brands Jason and Ben & Anna and have extended our ranges of H&B favourites Ecodenta, Kingfisher and Aloe Dent.
“We expect the natural dental care market to continue to expand as the natural beauty one does. Customers are becoming much more in tune with what ingredients are found in their toiletries and they want to know exactly what they are cleaning their teeth with.
“However, the Blue Planet effect is definitely switching customers on to being more environmentally friendly too. Last year we launched a whole range of zero waste products and will continue to launch even more as these types of products are becoming increasingly popular.”
Natural Toothpaste – English Peppermint
Georganics is a natural and sustainable oral care brand, focused on creating high quality, ethical products.
Every year, it’s estimated that 18,480,000 kilos of waste go to landfill in the UK from plastic toothbrushes and empty toothpaste tubes. Georganics’ products and packaging are specifically designed to produce no waste.
The mineral-rich natural toothpaste is blended with organic Peppermint oil. All of the ingredients are pure and organic, and are sourced as locally as possible. It’s also PETA Cruelty-free and Vegan, free from Fluoride, SLS and Glycerin, and packaged using a recyclable glass jar, aluminium lid and compostable box.
JASON Healthy Mouth
JASON Healthy Mouth is the range for those looking to prevent and control tartar buildup, and it helps defend the oral cavity against sugar acids and acid forming bacteria that could lead to periodontal problems. With antimicrobial and antiseptic tea tree oil to guard against bacterial growth, aloe vera to soothe gum irritation, and cinnamon for a fresh feeling that lasts all day. Available in the range are: fluoride-free toothpaste, fluoride gel, and mouthwash. All products are vegan-friendly, cruelty-free and free from SLS, parabens, preservatives, artificial colours, artificial sweeteners, saccharin and propylene glycol.
Zero Waste Brush Heads & Toothpaste Tablets from LiveCoco
LiveCoco produces zero waste oral care products in order to combat the destruction of ocean life due to plastic pollution. The world is waking up to the mammoth problem that is plastic waste. LiveCoco is dealing with this by constantly creating new & innovative ways to reduce plastic waste in our everyday lives. Our latest innovations are our Recyclable Brush Heads & Plastic-Free Toothpaste Tablets. Traditionally these two products create literally thousands of tonnes of plastic waste, a significant amount of which will end up in the ocean, possibly being eaten by ocean life. Our solutions eliminate any resultant waste. To join our cause, drop us an email today!
Ben and Anna Toothpaste White with Fluoride
Ditch the plastic tubes in the bathroom and try toothpaste in a jar! The new eco-friendly Whitening Toothpaste now with fluoride will leave you with strong, shiny and healthy teeth and gums. Formulated with the best natural and organic ingredients such as calming chamomile, aloe vera and peppermint leaf oil, allowing you to start every day with fresh breath and a smile! Ben and Anna eco-friendly products are all formulated without animal testing and free from harmful ingredients such as parabens, SLS and phthalates. This Toothpaste is also available in Orange with fluoride. Certified natural and organic by Natrue and registered vegan with the Vegan Society. RRP £8.95
Coral Nano Silver Toothpaste
Coral fluoride-free, re-mineralising toothpaste provides complete oral care protection and a refreshing mouth clean thanks to Coral Calcium from sea coral, Xylitol, SilverSol, and therapeutic grade mint leaf oil. Formulated with ECOSAFE Coral Calcium from above sea coral, Coral Nano Silver toothpaste is scientifically proven to kill over 650 pathogens and is clinically proven to kill 99.99% of bacteria causing bad breath, plaque, and gum disease. Coral calcium may also help remineralise tooth enamel. We also supply a range of products to help provide complete support for best dental and oral health including Coral Nano Silver Mint Mouthwash, and Xylitol Chewing Gum – Suitable for Diabetics.
Woobamboo Brushes – New Zero Waste Packaging
Woobamboo brushes are now available in zero packaging. Same bamboo toothbrushes with new plastic-free, biodegradable box with soy-based ink. We know…we’re excited too! The handle of this toothbrush is made from Moso bamboo that is sustainably harvested and naturally anti-microbial. It is coated in a natural, soy based wax. The bristles we use are dental-grade nylon. This toothbrush is non-toxic, BPA free, and phthalate free. The handle is compostable/biodegradable and the bristles are recyclable. The packaging is made from recycled materials and is recyclable. Available in Adult, Slim and Kids brush types. Retail Ready cases of 12