antique tooth powder cansOnce upon a time, toothpaste wasn’t paste. It was powder. (And once upon a time before that, it was things like crushed shells, burnt bread, charcoal and dragon’s blood, but that’s another story for another time.) In fact, although the first mass produced pastes were available by the late 1800s, it wasn’t until after World War I that the stuff we know and use today really became popular.

Tooth powder still exists, though – including a product we only discovered relatively recently at Lush: Toothy Tabs. Intrigued by these little boxes of tooth powder pellets, we bought a few flavors to try out.

Now, we don’t often write about specific products on this blog, but this one, we do want to gush about. A little.

For starters, it’s fluoride-free. Also absent: sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan, titanium dioxide and the like. What it does contain is a mixture of safe synthetic abrasives such as baking soda, sorbitol for sweetness, clay for whitening and various blends of oils and herbal ingredients. All seven current varieties are vegan.

Lush Toothy TabsToothy Tabs can take a bit of getting used to. Instead of putting them on your brush, you break up the pellets by chewing them lightly before you brush. And because they’re SLS-free, they don’t foam up nearly so much as conventional pastes. Nor do any of them seem to have an especially strong after-flavor – which may seem weird if you rely on that tingly, minty, cool feeling after brushing to signal “clean.” Yet your mouth in fact feels very clean, thanks to some surprising flavor combinations – wasabi and peppermint? black pepper and lemon? – and a nice level of abrasion, which is, as we’ve noted before, the main thing you need from a toothpaste. That and the mechanical action of brushing are what break up the biofilm (plaque) that builds up between cleanings.

Other things we like about the product: It’s already portioned, so you don’t overuse it; and it comes in minimal, recyclable packaging, so there’s less environmental waste, as well. The compact packaging also makes Toothy Tabs great for travel.

Our consensus favorite is probably the very Lushily but inaptly named Dirty, which is actually quite minty and clean tasting. The fennel, vanilla and sandalwood blend of Breath of God is also refreshing.

Any of them, though, would be a fine part of your daily home hygiene.

Top image by rosefirerising, via Flickr

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