As a VIP member of Grove Collaborative, I get a free item or special deal every month or two. Recently, we’ve tried two new natural toothpastes. Based on our 20 years’ experience trying natural and Earth-friendly hygiene products and cleaning products, here’s our evaluation of these two minty mouth-cleaning options. This is an honest review. We received no compensation other than a discount on these products.
JASON Powersmile Antiplaque & Whitening Toothpaste (Powerful Peppermint flavor) is indeed powerful. It’s aggressively minty, similar to Altoids candy. It will clear your sinuses! But we don’t actually like the taste, which also prominently features stevia. I’m very sensitive to fake sugar, and while stevia is not actually an artificial sweetener, the fact that it tastes super-sweet but has no calories can trigger a metabolic reaction that makes me feel nervous and queasy. That’s a reason to avoid stevia-sweetened foods, but since I’m not swallowing toothpaste, my reaction is only psychosomatic and fades within a few minutes after rinsing my mouth. Still, who wants to feel icky even for a moment after brushing teeth? Not me!
If you like stevia and like extreme mintiness, though, you might like JASON toothpaste. Daniel and I both found its consistency mildly annoying but for opposite reasons: I think it feels slightly slimy; he says it’s “dry”! Weird.
As for the alleged whitening powers…we didn’t notice any difference.
A flip-top cap can be a nice feature when it works properly. This one doesn’t. After being flipped open the first time, it is very difficult to snap closed, even if you carefully remove all toothpaste from the edges.
Noticing that this toothpaste is labeled gluten-free, I wondered whether most toothpastes contain gluten. (Nobody in my household is gluten-sensitive; I was just curious.) Quick research indicates that nobody adds gluten to toothpaste on purpose, so it’s not necessary to look for special labeling unless you are really super sensitive to gluten.
Overall, we gave JASON toothpaste a fair try–as you can see by the amount our tube is depleted–but we’re not really wanting to keep using it, let alone ever buy it again. Anybody in Pittsburgh want a free half-used tube of toothpaste??
Dr. Bronner’s All-One Toothpaste (Peppermint flavor) is more to our liking. The peppermint flavor is more pleasant and the stevia less noticeable than in JASON. The texture is better than I expected–being very familiar with Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap, I expected the toothpaste to be basically made from the soap mixed with baking soda, but it’s much smoother than that. In fact, it seems too smooth and not quite “scrubby” enough for good tooth cleaning…but then, after rinsing, I end up feeling that my teeth got clean enough after all.
Dr. Bronner’s also provides reading material all over the package, as is the hallmark of this brand. It gives you something interesting to do while brushing your teeth.
Still, we don’t plan to buy Dr. Bronner’s toothpaste on a regular basis. Here’s why…
Are these toothpastes worth the money?
JASON’s 6-ounce tube sells for about $3.75-$6.99. (FULL DISCLOSURE: Grove Collaborative claims that this product costs $8.99 elsewhere, and $6.99 is their low price. In fact, in a quick Internet search, $6.99 is the highest price I saw anywhere!) Dr. Bronner’s 5-ounce tube is $5.89-$6.50. That’s pricey compared to many toothpastes on the market. Are these brands really better for your health or the environment?
The Environmental Working Group has not analyzed JASON Powersmile’s new formulation but gave good safety scores to the old one. EWG says Dr. Bronner’s cinnamon and anise (licorice) flavors are among the safest toothpastes available, score 1. They gave peppermint a score of 2; it’s unclear why, but EWG is overly nervous (in my opinion) about essential oils used for fragrance and flavor, so maybe they think peppermint is riskier than cinnamon.
The Cornucopia Institute gives Dr. Bronner’s its best score and JASON its worst, saying that JASON “May be contaminated with artificial preservatives.” Cornucopia heavily advocates organic farming, so Dr. Bronner’s use of certified organic ingredients is definitely a factor in the score. Cornucopia also makes it clear that they oppose fluoride in toothpaste. Neither of the toothpastes my family just sampled contains fluoride, but some other JASON toothpastes do. I’ve previously explained why my family usually uses fluoridated toothpaste and why I look for xylitol in lieu of fluoride. These two toothpastes don’t have xylitol, either. The evidence that they actually do anything to control tooth decay is sketchy. (The use of any kind of toothpaste probably increases the amount of food and plaque sliding off your teeth when you brush. But fluoride has a lingering effect of killing bacteria that eat holes in your teeth, and xylitol may do this too.)
What about the environmental impact of the toothpaste packaging? Like most toothpastes, each of these tubes came in a paperboard box that was likely made from a high percentage of recycled fiber and was recyclable in our city’s curbside collection. Dr. Bronner’s claims that their toothpaste tubes are “100% recyclable” but doesn’t offer any information on how to recycle them, and recycling toothpaste tubes is generally difficult, so I’m not getting excited about that. Overall, there’s no reason to think these brands are better than others in the trash they create. In fact, because the tubes are smaller than the 8-ounce tubes used by many mainstream brands, these are actually making more trash per ounce of toothpaste.
It is possible to buy tooth-cleaning products that are packaged in recyclable jars. I haven’t tried these myself. Check out the Kimball family’s review of Earthpowder at Kitchen Stewardship!
The bottom line is, as I said in my article on greening your hygiene routine, that some of the affordable mainstream toothpastes are just as good for your health and no worse for the Earth than “natural” toothpastes. Click through to that article to learn which products you should replace instead!