Updated on February 22, 2024
7 min read

Everything You Need to Know About Tooth Powder

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Is Toothpaste Better than Tooth Powder?

Regarding the research that backs its effectiveness, more studies cover the effects of toothpaste. Minimal research is available to compare the effects of toothpaste and tooth powder, so it’s difficult to call either product superior.

Toothpaste has continuously been proven effective at protecting against oral issues, which include:7,8,9,10

  • Cavities
  • Alleviating sensitive teeth
  • Whitening teeth
  • Reducing plaque and tartar buildup
  • Preventing gingivitis
  • Preventing enamel erosion
  • Reducing bad breath

NewMouth recommends brushing your teeth with toothpaste with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. All toothpaste with the ADA Seal of Acceptance has provided scientific evidence proving the safety and efficacy of the paste.

The ADA Council on Scientific Affairs reviews all applications and determines acceptable products. Any toothpaste that contains flavoring agents that cause tooth decay is rejected.

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Tooth Powder vs. Toothpaste

There is limited research that has compared toothpaste to powder. However, those published show mixed results on tooth powder’s overall effects on oral health.1,2,3,4,5,6

The main concerns regarding tooth powder are its abrasiveness and effectiveness at removing dental plaque. A buildup of plaque can lead to cavities and tooth decay.

A few studies showed that tooth powder might be too abrasive compared to normal fluoride toothpaste. This can result in dental erosion. However, its abrasiveness can effectively polish stains off the surfaces of teeth.4,5

The findings are mixed regarding tooth powder’s effectiveness at removing plaque. Some studies say toothpaste remains more effective, while others say results are comparable to toothbrush and paste.1,2,3,6

What is Tooth Powder?

In the 1800s, it was common for people to use baking soda, chalk, or salt to remove mouth odor and polish teeth. Today, we call them tooth powder.

Tooth powder’s appeal includes:

  • Fewer and more natural ingredients
  • Able to eliminate toxins
  • Believed to be able to cure tooth decay (this has not been scientifically proven)

Tooth Powder Ingredients

Tooth powders can be purchased from manufacturers or made at home. Common ingredients include:

  • Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) ⁠— This ingredient has mild abrasive properties that help remove surface stains and dental plaque from the teeth
  • Activated charcoal ⁠— Activated charcoal has a porous nature that is believed to remove toxins from your teeth (more studies need to be done to support this)
  • Bentonite clay — Bentonite clay is added to natural tooth powder to improve its overall texture, giving it a smooth consistency
  • Coarse sea salt — Sea salt helps balance the pH levels in the mouth and acts as a natural antibacterial agent
  • Calcium carbonate — This ingredient can be added to tooth powder to whiten your teeth gently
  • Essential oils — Some essential oils have antiseptic properties that can help reduce bacteria in the mouth
  • Flavorings —  Flavorings enhance the tooth powder’s taste, making the brushing experience more enjoyable
close up woman preparing brightening teeth with sodium bicarbonate

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Kinds of Tooth Powder

Like toothpaste, various kinds of tooth powder are available on the market. Each tooth powder caters to different preferences and oral care needs.

Some common types of tooth powder formulations include:

Remineralizing Tooth Powder

Remineralizing tooth powder contains ingredients that help remineralize tooth enamel. This can make your teeth stronger and more resistant to decay.  Different ingredients’ combined enamel remineralization potential can help protect teeth from further damage.

Whitening Tooth Powder

Whitening tooth powder focuses on ingredients that whiten teeth. They may contain abrasive ingredients that gently whiten teeth and remove surface stains.

Natural Tooth Powder

As the name suggests, natural tooth powder uses naturally derived ingredients. They won’t contain harsh chemicals and are generally safe for people with sensitive teeth.

Kids Tooth Powder

Kids tooth powder is specifically formulated for young children. Since kids’ teeth are still growing, this tooth powder is safe for their developing teeth. This tooth powder may contain natural ingredients and be free from harsh chemicals or additives.

Does Tooth Powder Have any Benefits?

Toothpowder has not been studied as extensively as toothpaste. However, there have been a few studies that have examined the effectiveness of toothpowder.

Here’s what the science says:

Reducing Plaque

Plaque is a sticky film from bacteria that forms on your teeth daily. When it builds up, it turns into tartar.

Three scientific studies have shown that tooth powder is equally or more effective at reducing plaque than toothpaste.1,2,3 This is likely due to the abrasive nature of tooth powders.

However, another study from 2018 compared traditional oral hygiene methods to toothpaste users. This study showed contrasting evidence to the other studies. It found that traditional methods, including tooth powder, were inferior in plaque control compared to toothpaste.5

These mixed results show that more evidence is needed to prove whether tooth powder is as effective as toothpaste at reducing plaque.

Controlling Gingivitis

When plaque builds up on teeth, it can cause inflammation, pain, and infection in your gums. This can lead to gingivitis (early gum disease). If gingivitis goes untreated, it can turn into periodontitis (advanced gum disease).

Current scientific evidence shows that tooth powders may effectively reduce plaque and gum disease.1,2,3 However, more evidence is needed to determine whether tooth powder effectively controls gingivitis.

Whitening Effects

One study has shown that tooth powder efficiently removes extrinsic (surface) stains from your teeth.5 This study noted that the whitening effects of the tooth powder were greater than that of the toothpaste. However, the toothpaste was just a regular toothpaste, not a whitening toothpaste. 

Tooth powder is likely an effective whitening agent due to its abrasive properties. But again, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of tooth powder in removing stains from your teeth.

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Are There any Negative Effects of Tooth Powder?

The abrasiveness of tooth powder may help remove surface stains. However, it can also have negative effects on your teeth.

One study found that tooth powder can cause bleeding, gum loss, and damage to your enamel (tooth surface).4 Another study showed that tooth loss was higher in people who brushed with red tooth powder due to its high abrasiveness and chemical composition.5

Pros and Cons of Toothpowder

There are both pros and cons of toothpowder:


  • Tooth powder is likely an effective way of controlling plaque build-up
  • Less plaque build-up helps reduce gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis)
  • The abrasiveness may help lift surface stain and improve the white color of your teeth
  • Can be made at home, so you have more control over the ingredients
  • Can be made customizable depending on oral health needs and allergies


  • There is very little scientific evidence to prove the effectiveness of toothpowder
  • No tooth powder has received the ADA Seal of Acceptance
  • Too much abrasiveness can have harmful effects on your mouth
  • May cause negative effects, including bleeding, gum loss, enamel damage, and tooth loss
  • Many tooth powders do not contain fluoride

Considering this product’s pros and cons can help determine whether tooth powder is right for you.

How to Use Tooth Powder

Tooth powder should be used the same as toothpaste. The only difference is that it needs moisture to spread over the surfaces of your teeth. 

Here’s how you should use tooth powder:

  • Wet your tooth brush under a stream of running water
  • Dip the wet toothbrush in your tooth powder (the moisture will help the tooth powder adhere to your teeth and the toothbrush)
  • Brush your teeth as you normally would when using regular toothpaste
  • After brushing, spit the tooth powder into the sink to help get rid of any leftover debris
  • Rinse your mouth and toothbrush with water to remove any remaining tooth powder residue from your mouth and toothbrush


Tooth powder has been used as an oral healthcare product for centuries. It’s an effective way to reduce plaque, control gum disease, and whiten teeth.

However, studies are concerned about its ability to cause gum bleeding, gum recession, enamel damage, and tooth loss. More studies are needed to prove claims for or against tooth powder.

In comparison, toothpaste is proven to protect against cavities, lessen tooth sensitivity, whiten teeth, reduce plaque, prevent gum disease and enamel erosion, and reduce bad breath.

NewMouth recommends brushing your teeth twice daily using toothpaste with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. You should also floss once daily and rinse your mouth with mouthwash to maintain a proper oral health care routine.

Fresher breath, healthier gums, stronger teeth – find it all in 2024's best mouthwashes. Explore the top picks here.

Last updated on February 22, 2024
10 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 22, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Dakhurkar et al. “Preparation and Evaluation of Herbal Tooth Powder.” World Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, 2019.
  2. Janakiram et al. “Comparison of Plaque Removal Efficacy of Tooth Powder and Toothpaste in Young Adults in India: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial.” Journal of the International Academy of Periodontology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2018.
  3. Bharathi et al. “Formulation and evaluation of herbal tooth powder for oral care.” International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Life Sciences, ScienZTech, 2020.
  4. Khan et al. “Extrinsic Stain Removal with a Toothpowder: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” International Journal of Health Sciences, Qassim University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 2014. 
  5. Shah et al. “Association between Traditional Oral Hygiene Methods with Tooth Wear, Gingival Bleeding, and Recession: A Descriptive Cross-Sectional Study.” Indian Journal of Dental Research: Official Publication of Indian Society for Dental Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2018.
  6. Singh et al. “Comparative Evaluation of Tooth Substance Loss and Its Correlation with the Abrasivity and Chemical Composition of Different Dentifrices.” Research Gate, Indian Journal of Dental Research, 2016. 
  7. Toothpastes.” Oral Health Topics, American Dental Association, 2019. 
  8. Cury, J.A. and Tenuta, L.M.A. “Evidence-Based Recommendation on Toothpaste Use.” Brazilian Oral Research, Sociedade Brasileira De Pesquisa Odontológica, 2014.
  9. Toumba et al. “Guidelines on the use of fluoride for caries prevention in children: an updated EAPD policy document.” European Archives of Paediatric Dentistry, 2019.
  10. Walsh et al. “Fluoride toothpastes of different concentrations for preventing dental caries.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2019.
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