What is Tooth Powder?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Tooth powder is a mildly abrasive powder that is used in combination with a toothbrush to maintain oral hygiene. Many people in developed nations prefer to use toothpaste, which is simply hydrated powder in a tube. Depending on where a person is, commercially produced tooth powder may be easy or difficult to obtain, and people can also make their own at home with common household ingredients. Since it is often significantly cheaper than toothpaste, the product appeals to some people.

A basic form of tooth powder can be made by mixing baking soda and peroxide.
A basic form of tooth powder can be made by mixing baking soda and peroxide.

The primary ingredient in a tooth powder is an abrasive to lift plaque and food from the teeth. Baking soda is a common abrasive, along with salt or chalk. A soap may be included to encourage the powder to foam. It may also include antibacterial ingredients like tea tree extract, or a flavoring such as mint to make it more palatable. To use the powder, people measure out a small amount, dip a wet toothbrush into it, and brush their teeth as directed by a dentist.

Baking soda can be used as a basic tooth powder.
Baking soda can be used as a basic tooth powder.

While dental hygiene has improved immensely over the ages, tooth powder has actually been around for quite a long time. The Egyptians used it, for example, as the did ancient Asian cultures. Europeans tended to use plain toothbrushes with no water until around the 1800s, when cleaning powders became popular. Many people made their own, and some commercial preparations were actually quite dangerous, due to the use of toxic filler ingredients. Toothpaste began to be marketed in the late 1800s, although it did not catch on immediately.

Peroxide, when mixed with baking soda, makes a simple tooth powder.
Peroxide, when mixed with baking soda, makes a simple tooth powder.

For a very basic form of tooth powder, people can take advantage of the reaction between baking soda and peroxide, which will help to whiten the teeth while cleaning them. A small amount of baking soda can be placed into a hand or a small dish, and peroxide poured over it. The toothbrush is dipped into the foaming mixture and the person brushes as he would normally. Plain baking soda and water can also be used by people who prefer a tamer brushing experience.

Tooth powder can also be made more exciting with the addition of food-grade essential oils and extracts. Ingredients like mint and tea tree oil can leave the mouth feeling clean and crisp, while cinnamon can help fight microbes in the mouth and it will leave a warm feeling behind. The powder can be kept in a tin or jar in the bathroom. Users may want to encourage people to use a scoop to drop a bit of powder into their hands, rather than dipping wet toothbrushes into the container; this will help prevent contamination.

Baking soda and peroxide help whiten the teeth.
Baking soda and peroxide help whiten the teeth.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I sell an all natural, handmade tooth powder on my website and it is a very effective way to enhance your oral health. I use simple, yet effective ingredients like detoxifying bentonite clay, kaolin clay, and activated charcoal. It works really really well. I advise my customers to use this in conjunction with my natural mouth wash made with essential oils and food grade 3% or 1.5% H2O2.

Personally, I have been using these two products for close to two years and my dentist can't believe the outstanding health of my gums and teeth. Before, I use to get one cavity every two years and I also started to get gum disease at the age of 29! My customers have seen the same results. Even my dentist requested some of my products to use on himself!

If you do anything, stop using toothpaste with fluoride and unnatural mouthwash - or your mouth will never be able to heal.


The hygienist is right. Fluoride is very bad for you. There have been a lot of studies about what it can do to your health.


@anon17277 – I’d suggest Colgate tooth powder or some other kind of whitening tooth powder. If you want, you can get whitening strips as well, although you will have to leave those on for about 30 minutes a day. Your dentist may be able to sell you some of those.


The weirdest advice I ever got about toothpaste was that I didn’t have to use it. This is what my dental hygienist told me once. She said it really does nothing for the teeth—that the important thing was to use the toothbrush to stimulate your gums and brush away plaque and tartar. She said the fluoride didn’t help any either. Go figure.


@anon17277 – I’d just use baking soda. I use that myself in place of toothpaste when I run out, and my dentist says it works just as well. As a matter of fact, he told me that when he was studying dentistry his professors taught against using baking soda, but now the dental profession embraces it. It’s funny how times change.


My 11 year old son is a swimmer and is in the pool for 10+ hours a week. He has developed Swimmers Calculus. He gets his teeth cleaned 4 times a year to help prevent the yellow/brownish stains. I asked his dentist if using tooth powder might make a difference. He said that it probably would not but to give it a try. Now I’m shopping for the powder and there are so many different kinds. A lot of them advertise that they are non abrasive. I think my goal is to get something with a mild grit to be used a few times a week. What do you suggest? Thanks, Connie

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