Brushing your teeth with toothpaste can make your mouth feel clean and fresh. Most toothpaste has a mint flavor that gives that fresh feeling. But can you brush without it? Can your mouth stay healthy and free of plaque without toothpaste?

The answer is YES. You can still remove plaque without toothpaste. To better understand this, let’s dive deeper.

What is a plaque?

A plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria and sugars that forms on teeth. Bacteria in plaque produce acids that can destroy tooth enamel and cause cavities. It can also cause gum disease, infection, and even tooth loss.

Plaque can harden and become dental calculus or tartar if not removed. It is even a sticker substance that provides the perfect environment for bacteria.

Why toothpaste is not needed to remove plaque?

The purpose of brushing is simply to remove plaque from the teeth. The bristles of your toothbrush can do it alone. So as long as you do it regularly, dry brushing or using other alternatives can remove plaque effectively.

What is toothpaste made of?

Standard toothpaste contains this set of ingredients.

  • Fluoride: Most toothpaste contains fluoride. It is a mineral that can help keep the tooth enamel strong.
  • Abrasives: These are minerals that fight against plaque buildup. Examples are calcium carbonate, dehydrated silica gel, and magnesium carbonate. But when you buy toothpaste, make sure to look at the relative dentin abrasion (RDA) number. If the RDA is above 250, it may harm your tooth enamel.
  • Detergents: These are for cleaning and it produces the foams as you brush. Examples are sodium lauroyl sarcosinate and sodium lauryl sulfate.
  • Flavors: This gives the minty, salty, sweet, or bubblegum flavor toothpaste.
  • Humectants: This keeps the toothpaste moist and gives the paste-like consistency.  Examples are sorbitol glycerol, propylene, and glycol.
  • Coloring: This makes the toothpaste look more appealing.
  • Binders: This is used to stabilize toothpaste formula. Examples are synthetic cellulose, natural gums, seaweed colloids, and mineral colloids.

For organic toothpaste, most of it is paraben-free. It also has no artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners. Organic toothpaste does not contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) as well. This ingredient can cause rashes around your lips or canker sores if you are sensitive to it.

Why do we use toothpaste?

Although you can brush your teeth without toothpaste, here are some good reasons to still use it.

  • Toothpaste has a nice taste: Its mint flavor gives a fresh breath feeling. It also comes in other flavors like bubblegum and strawberry that make it more enjoyable to use.
  • Gets rid of bad breath: Speaking of mint, using toothpaste makes your mouth smell good.
  • It whitens the teeth: Some toothpaste can whiten your teeth and lessen the effects of staining.
  • Fights sensitivity: Some toothpaste, especially those with potassium nitrate, can help reduce tooth sensitivity.
  • Toothpaste balances mouth pH: If your saliva is acidic, tooth decay can happen. The good thing is, toothpaste has sodium phosphate, which brings down mouth pH levels.

Alternatives for toothpaste

Since you can brush without toothpaste, here are some alternatives that you can use. Most of it can be found at home and there’s no need for extra expenses.

  • Baking soda

Baking soda is known for its cleaning properties. It can effectively clean your teeth as well. Just mix a tablespoon of baking soda with a tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Mix until it becomes a thick paste and brush your teeth using it. You can also dab your toothbrush in the baking soda and directly brush your teeth.

  • Sea salt

Sea salt is a natural antibacterial and can neutralize acids in your mouth. to use this, you can dab your toothbrush in sea salt and brush as usual. You can also dissolve the sea salt in warm water if you are concerned with its abrasiveness.

  • Dry brushing

This is the simplest that you can do. All you need is a toothbrush and it will get the job done. This technique works but it will make you feel that it doesn’t because it lacks the minty-fresh feeling that the toothpaste can give.

  • Brush with pure water

If you don’t feel comfortable with dry brushing, you can add water. Wet your toothbrush and brush as usual.

  • Herbal tooth powders

Herbal tooth powder can keep your teeth clean and healthy. These are also made with natural ingredients. These natural ingredients can help to fight infection, inflammation, and reduce pain.

  • All-natural soap

You can also use soap to brush your teeth. But make sure that it is all-natural. Some ingredients of ordinary soap can be harmful when accidentally swallowed.

  • Tooth soap

Some products are designed as tooth soaps. These products don’t taste like soap and they can give you clean teeth and fresh breath. Tooth soaps are great alternatives, but make sure you buy one without additives.

  • Coconut oil

Coconut oil is known to have many uses and benefits. Its antifungal and antibacterial properties make it a great toothpaste alternative. You can also combine coconut oil with baking soda and make a paste and use it to brush your teeth.

  • Essential oils

Essential oils are most known because of their relaxing and calming scents. But these oils can clean your teeth as well. Just add a drop of peppermint oil to your toothbrush and brush as usual.

Why having a professional dental cleaning is necessary

Even if you can brush your teeth without toothpaste, you should never skip visiting a dentist. Yes, you can remove most of the plaque on your own. But professional dental cleanings are essential to remove plaque or tartar that you can’t remove at home. Doing this can prevent bad breath and tooth decay as well.


No matter what you use to clean your teeth, your oral health is something that should be taken seriously. Having a smile that you can be proud of can boost confidence and self-esteem. So, take good care of your teeth, whether that is by using toothpaste or the alternatives.