Tooth Be Told: Do Natural Toothpastes Keep Your Breath Fresh? Here's What We Thought of 9 Top-Rated Varieties

Tooth Be Told: Do Natural Toothpastes Keep Your Breath Fresh? Here's What We Thought of 9 Top-Rated Varieties

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Arlyn Hernandez
Sep 28, 2016

It is a truth universally acknowledged that we all need to brush our teeth. What you use to carry out the chore is up to you, but if you're looking for some natural toothpaste alternatives with minimal chemicals (more on that later), we rounded up 7 willing mouths at Apartment Therapy HQ to test out 9 top-rated natural pastes. Did they stand a chance against the raw garlic test? Read on to find out!

We're not here to take a stance against conventional toothpastes, but it's important to note that they are formulated with some ingredients that have come under scrutiny, you know, considering this is going straight into your mouth.

A few of the somewhat controversial chemicals you'll find in conventional toothpastes are:

  • Artificial sweeteners and flavors
  • Detergents and foaming agents like sodium lauryl sulfate or lauryl sarcosinate
  • Triclosan (an antibacterial chemical that has been linked to concerns over antibiotic resistance and endocrine disruption
  • Propylene glycol (a type of mineral oil that, in the industrial grade, is used in antifreeze, paints, enamels, and airplane de-icers)
  • Fluoride (though it can be found in some varieties of natural toothpaste.) If you're curious about this one, considering it feels like we've always been told the additive is necessary for healthy teeth, check out this article from The Huffington Post or this one from Dental Buzz for some more information on the matter.
So, if you're curious about whether these natural toothpastes get the job done, here's what our testing panel had to say about 9 top-rated varieties:
(Image credit: Amazon)

Himalaya Neem and Pomegranate Fluoride-Free Toothpaste

  • Price: $5.99 for 5.29 oz
  • Test subject: Arlyn Hernandez, Design Editor
  • Consistency and flavor: This was thick yet creamy and felt sort of luxurious, you know, if toothpaste could feel luxurious. The flavor was completely unexpected. I wasn't sure what neem was (still don't) and was intrigued by what the pomegranate would materialize as, but overall, it was…interesting. Kind of earthy and herby, but sort of addictive. I kept using the paste because I wanted to pinpoint what the flavor was. I felt a little more exotic with every use.
  • Most dragon-breath inducing meal consumed while testing: Greek salad with extra olives, extra red onion, extra feta cheese and extra pepperoncini. (I'm an extremist, what can I say?)
  • Breath grade immediately post brushing (scale of 1-5): 3.75, though honestly, it was hard to tell because the toothpaste tasted food-y, so I didn't know if what I was tasting was the paste or meal residue. Case in point: After one brushing experience, my S.O. started sniffing the air as I spoke and said "Why do I smell thyme??"
  • Breath grade a few hours removed from brushing (scale of 1-5): 4

Overall thoughts: I loved the packaging it came in (though I know that doesn't get you closer to fresh breath), however I wish it featured a flip-top for easier one-handed application. The flavor is probably not for everyone, and though I liked it, I've decided I'm definitely more of an extreme make-your-mouth-burn-mint flavored girl.

Final Grade: B-


(Image credit: Amazon)

Desert Essence Natural Tea Tree Oil Toothpaste with Baking Soda and Essential Oil of Mint

  • Price: $7.20 for 6.25 oz
  • Test subject: Anna Hoffman, Creative Services Director
  • Consistency and flavor: I liked the texture of this. It's paste-y, but has a little unctuousness (in a good way) that keeps it from feeling heavy. The mint flavor was sufficiently strong and tasted like real mint. There's also a touch of baking soda taste, which I like, because it reminds me that I'm using the healthy stuff. Behind the mint and baking soda, there's another, somewhat earthy note (tea tree oil?) that didn't bother me at all, and only contributed to my feeling of virtuousness.
  • Most dragon-breath inducing meal consumed while testing: Tomato and corn salad with a lot of red onions
  • Breath grade immediately post brushing (scale of 1-5): 4.5 (Husband review: "It's fine. Smells like a hippie.")
  • Breath grade a few hours removed from brushing (scale of 1-5): 5 (Husband review: "I don't smell anything at all," which I took as a good thing.)

Overall thoughts: Overall, I really liked this toothpaste–it tasted pretty good and was effective at keeping my mouth as fresh and non-swampy as my normal drugstore toothpaste. It's really important to note, though, that this toothpaste doesn't have fluoride. I'm aware of some controversy around fluoride as an additive to our toothpastes and waters, but in general I am pro-fluoride, and so is my dentist….so even though I liked this toothpaste, I'm going to have to go back to my drugstore brand.

Final grade: A if you don't like fluoride; C if you do…

→ Trying to keep yourself smelling fresh but au naturale? Don't miss our roundup of non-aluminum deodorants.


(Image credit: Thrive Market)

Earthpaste in Peppermint

  • Price: $4.45 for 4 oz.
  • Test subject: Peggy Lin, Production Coordinator
  • Consistency and flavor: It was extremely light and dissolved almost completely after about 10 seconds of brushing. I tried using double the amount I usually use to see if it would still disintegrate, but the result was the same. 10 seconds = poof, it's gone! The paste has an unappealing brown color that I was dubious would give me the peppermint flavor the packaging promised, but it did! The mintiness level was just right.
  • Most dragon-breath inducing meal consumed while testing: Cheese pizza with garlic.
  • Breath grade immediately post brushing (scale of 1-5): 4; it didn't stand a chance against the garlic, but my teeth felt clean.
  • Breath grade a few hours removed from brushing (scale of 1-5): 3

Overall thoughts: The texture and taste was okay, but my mouth and teeth just felt like they were never clean enough.

Final grade: C+


(Image credit: iHerb)

Jason NutriSmile Antiplaque & Enamel Defense Fluoride Free Toothpaste in Orange Cinnamon & Mint

  • Price: $6.98 for 4.2 oz
  • Test subject: Meghan Splawn, Associate Food Editor @ kitchn
  • Consistency and flavor: It's quite thick with a color and consistency of chalk that made me nervous to try it on first inspection. Though, to its credit, I have tried other natural toothpastes that were too thin, making a mess while applying to my toothbrush and while stored, so the thickness of this toothpaste was quite welcome. My one previous experience with cinnamon toothpaste was painfully too strong, so I was quite delighted by the subtle nuance of the orange/cinnamon/mint combination.
  • Most dragon-breath inducing meal consumed while testing: A very garlicky batch of guacamole thanks to my daughter helping to make it.
  • Breath grade immediately post brushing (scale of 1-5): 5
  • Breath grade a few hours removed from brushing (scale of 1-5): 2

Overall thoughts: I enjoyed this toothpaste experience—the paste foamed up surprisingly well while brushing and I really felt like my teeth got clean. The flavor was great and I enjoyed not having an overly minty mouth post brushing. The down side was that the fresh mouth feeling did not last as long as with traditional toothpastes.

Final grade: B


(Image credit: Amazon)

Spry Toothpaste Peppermint with Xylitol

  • Price: $7 for 4 oz
  • Test subject: Andrew Forcier, Audience Development Manager & Employee Extraordinaire
  • Consistency and flavor: This was awesome and way better than chemically-enhanced toothpastes. It tasted great, and I felt like my mouth was clean but not chemically.
  • Most dragon-breath inducing meal consumed while testing: Italian supreme sub with tons of hot peppers and cheese.
  • Breath grade immediately post brushing (scale of 1-5): 4
  • Breath grade a few hours removed from brushing (scale of 1-5): 4

Overall thoughts: I love this toothpaste and would definitely buy it on my own (after being given it to try). I think this is a fabulous alternative to chemically-enhanced toothpaste and I would definitely recommend this to friends!

Final grade: A


(Image credit: Vitacost)

Nature's Gate Natural Toothpaste Fluoride-Free Creme De Mint

  • Price: $3.48 for 6 oz
  • Test subject: Kaitlin Flannery, Social Media Manager @ kitchn
  • Consistency and flavor: Extremely runny. It dripped on the counter when I tried it the first time. I never really got used to the fact that it wanted to drizzle out of the tube. It also foams a lot more than my regular toothpaste while you're brushing. Not bad, just noticeable. As for the flavor, the "crème de mint," which, having spent a summer in high school working at DQ, sounded delicious and reminded me of simpler times (and Thin Mint blizzards). However—no surprise—it really just tastes like mint, but not quite fresh-off-the-stem mint. It's not bad, but it's very different from the minty flavor I'm used to in regular toothpaste. Again, I never really got used to it.
  • Most dragon-breath inducing meal consumed while testing: Garlicky grilled shrimp
  • Breath grade immediately post brushing (scale of 1-5): 4; it mostly worked. It got the shrimp taste out, but the garlic lingered.
  • Breath grade a few hours removed from brushing (scale of 1-5): 4; I found myself reaching for the mouthwash after a few hours.

Overall thoughts: For the most part, this toothpaste made my teeth feel clean, but left a little something to be desired. My mouth just didn't feel as fresh as I'm used to after brushing. That said, following with mouthwash (albeit, it's not natural stuff) did the trick, which is a step I incorporate into my regular brushing routine anyway.

Final Grade: B


(Image credit: Amazon)

Weleda Natural Salt Toothpaste

  • Price: $8 for 2.5 oz
  • Test subject: Andrew Forcier, Audience Development Manager & Employee Extraordinaire
  • Consistency and flavor: The consistency was fine, but the flavor was just meh. Well, honestly it wasn't good.
  • Most dragon-breath inducing meal consumed while testing: Cumin-y steak tacos with extra sour cream
  • Breath grade immediately post brushing (scale of 1-5): Can I do half points? 0.5??
  • Breath grade a few hours removed from brushing (scale of 1-5): Not calculable. Just meh.

Overall thoughts: I used this toothpaste twice and was not impressed with the flavor or with how clean my mouth felt after brushing.

Final grade: D


(Image credit: The Honest Co.)

The Honest Co. Natural & Fluoride-Free Toothpaste in Mint

  • Price: $5.95 for 6 oz
  • Test subject: Arlyn Hernandez, Design Editor
  • Consistency and flavor: Imagine if someone whipped your toothpaste (like whipped yogurt, or whipped butter)…it was like that. Kind of airy, but still a paste. It had a subtle mint flavor, which was nice and familiar, though I wish it were stronger (again, I like an exaggeration of flavor.)
  • Most dragon-breath inducing meal consumed while testing: Straight raw garlic. I wanted to put this thing through its paces. It was not pleasant, but I believe in suffering for your work.
  • Breath grade immediately post brushing (scale of 1-5): 2, and after I realized I probably wasn't giving this a fair chance (no one eats straight raw garlic, do they?), I tried again later on in the week with a normal meal, and can report back a 4.
  • Breath grade a few hours removed from brushing (scale of 1-5): 3.5 (with the normal meal)

Overall thoughts: I liked this paste, but again, I wish it were more powerful. I like my mouth to be almost painfully minty, so it took a few rounds to get used to this. However, even though it wasn't crazy minty, it still worked pretty well and I liked that it had no artificial sweeteners, flavors or dyes and was vegan (and cruelty-free.)

Final Grade: B+

(Image credit: Amazon)

Kiss My Face Gel Teeth Whitening Toothpaste, Fluoride Free Toothpaste

  • Price: $3.89 for 4.5 oz
  • Test subject: Carrie McBride, Managing Editor
  • Consistency and flavor: The gel was a tiny bit gritty but not in an unpleasant way. It didn't get super foamy which I've been conditioned since birth to equate with "clean", but I think I'd get used to the reduced froth rather quickly. It has a traditional minty flavor, but I could taste a hint of tea tree oil which is in the ingredient list. I'm not a fan of tea tree oil scent or flavor, but it's super mild here.
  • Most dragon-breath inducing meal consumed while testing: Coffee + morning breath
  • Breath grade immediately post brushing (scale of 1-5): 3
  • Breath grade a few hours removed from brushing (scale of 1-5): 2

Overall thoughts: The tube I used had text in both English and French so it immediately felt more fancy than my usual Colgate gel. It lists "Iceland moss extract" as an ingredient which seems exotic and slightly mysterious (especially if you focus on the "Iceland" part instead of the "moss" part). I didn't use it long enough to learn if it would be effective as a whitener, but I enjoyed the taste and experience of using it more than I expected and would consider switching if I could find it easily in my neighborhood. The one downside is that the tube doesn't stand on its own and takes up a lot of room in my medicine cabinet. My husband was out of town on business during my testing period so I can't say if it made me more "kissable".

Final Grade: B+

→For all you DIYers, check out this recipe for baking soda toothpaste.

→ Trying to keep yourself smelling fresh but au naturale? Don't miss our roundup of non-aluminum deodorants.

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