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Tube or Tab?
From homeopathic pastes to whitening bits, we test-drive five
fancy forms of toothpaste.


March 2019

Toothpaste is a sticky subject (no pun intended) in my household.

After nearly six years together, my husband still refuses to share a tube of toothpaste with me, insisting that my squeezing-from-the-middle technique — versus his far superior squeeze-from-the-end route — is completely ludicrous. We even travel with our own tubes. So when Editor-in-Chief Lori Acken proposed I sample various pastes you won’t find at the grocery and detail my findings, I laughed out loud and gleefully accepted the assignment, if for no other reason than to see the look on my husband’s face when $60 worth of toothpaste arrived on our doorstep. I spent two weeks sampling five different kinds of toothpaste, from high-end pastes to bits and bites, then chatted with Dr. Nathan Darling of Darling Dental in Glendale to get an expert’s take on the products I tried. Here are our “dental” impressions.

Marvis Classic Strong Mint Toothpaste

My favorite of the bunch and, much to my husband’s chagrin, one of the pricier tubes, Marvis products are made in Florence, Italy, which immediately had my 21-year-old self swooning. (I studied abroad in Florence.) The paste is a pure white color and smooth in consistency, and the minty flavor is indeed strong, but not overwhelmingly so. A favorite of celebs and fashionistas, one 3.8-ounce tube will run you upward of $10. So is it worth it?

“[Marvis] is basically a standard toothpaste with a slightly mintier and flavorful taste,” says Darling. “It’s definitely a niche product, rather than high-end.” Darling adds that, when Marvis debuted in the 1950s, the company targeted its marketing efforts to suave, cigarette-smoking Italians, and the product took off.


Theodent Classic with Rennou

Theodent is pricey. A 3.4-ounce tube costs an average of $15. But, unsurprisingly, it was my second favorite of the group. The minty flavor was satisfying, and the paste itself was easy to squeeze onto my toothbrush. And Theodent is also fluoride free and made with Rennou, a naturally occurring extract found in chocolate.

Darling was most intrigued by Theodent and the science behind the paste, ordering his own tube to sample at home. He explains that Rennou bonds to enamel and nourishes and grows the crystal structure of the tooth up to four times larger, remineralizing the tooth structure and strengthening the tooth itself.

“Now acid has to attack a larger crystal and more structure,” Darling adds, “so it takes longer to eat away at that tooth structure.”


Auromere Mint-Free Herbal Toothpaste

I consider myself an eco-conscious person. I recycle, buy organic foods, and choose household and beauty products with safer ingredients whenever possible. After sampling Auromere, I’m not so sure toothpaste will make that list. The putty-like paste is beige in color and chalky in consistency, and it’s naturally sweetened with pure licorice root, so the flavor likens itself to black licorice.

Darling’s take? He says the holistic-minded product is not recommended by the American Dental Association because it’s fluoride free (as are the others on this list). Auromere does contain a notable ingredient, peelu, derived from the peelu trees of the Middle East. Their bark and shoots were the first-ever “toothbrushes.” “People would peel the bark and chew on the twigs,” Darling says.


Hello Oral Care Activated Charcoal Toothpaste

Months ago, I tried a charcoal-based face mask for the first time and, as I tried to remove it, swore up and down that I’d never try such a product again. The mask splattered everywhere as I washed it off, leaving my sink and the surrounding countertop a mess. But there I stood, this time testing out charcoal toothpaste for this magazine.

The paste itself is, yes, charcoal colored, and your mouth will turn black as you brush. The directions on the tube encourage you to “spit responsibly,” but I was met, yet again, with a sink decorated with gray and black spots.

Hard pass.

“Brushing with charcoal has been around since ancient Roman times,” says Darling, “[but] there is no evidence that [proves] brushing with charcoal can whiten teeth.” Phew!


Bite Toothpaste Bits

I was most interested to sample these, as I thought they may solve my aforementioned marital conundrum. The product comes as a two-pack: one container of activated charcoal toothpaste bits, and one container of naturally whitening toothpaste bits. You simply place one bit in your mouth, bite down, and then brush with a wet toothbrush. It was a foreign concept, but I rather liked the whitening bits, and I think they’d be great to travel with. I admittedly couldn’t bring myself to sample the charcoal bits, though, because ... well, see my Hello Activated Charcoal toothpaste review.

Darling likes that Bite uses reusable glass jars to house its product, therefore reducing plastic waste. He says the bits contain sodium bicarbonate, which increases the pH balance of the mouth and is beneficial to those with acidic or dry mouths. They also contain kaolin, a natural clay used to remineralize teeth. One note of caution: Darling says kaolin has been shown to interact with antibiotics and some heart medicines.


This story ran in the March 2019 issue of: