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Why I Brush My Teeth With ‘Dirt’ When I Travel

The Verdict
The Bottom Line
The Dirt is pricey. But, the delicious mint taste, clean mouthfeel, all-natural ingredients, and travel-friendly form make it a superior toothpaste alternative.
The Good
Delicious minty taste
Crisp, clean mouthfeel
All-natural, time-tested ingredients
Gentle on teeth
Great for travel
The Bad
Expensive compared to brand-name toothpaste
Shop Now
I might be a bit “obsessive” when it comes to packing well. I enjoy a well-packed carry-on — one that’s not only light but also takes into account things like minimizing liquids. Which is how I came to start brushing my teeth with dirt — well, The Dirt — when I travel.

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Let me explain.

For years, I’ve pared down my travel kit with the obsessiveness of a hoarder, but in reverse. It started when I was traveling the Caribbean and Mexico for two weeks every month. I decided to shave my head. This was partly out of comfort since no hair means less heat retention, but it also meant I could pack less in my toiletries bag (no more shampoo or giant cans of Aquanet!).

I bought solid sunscreen sticks instead of lotions and roll-on insect repellent instead of spray.

I started packing only a sliver of emergency soap on the off-chance that my hotel didn’t have any (rare). But, for the most part, I relied on my hotel’s free bath products. And I got by just fine.

But, I still had to pack liquid toothpaste. Which really put a crimp in the goal of downsizing my liquids. This is important because, frankly, the fewer liquids I carry on, the more room I have in my tiny, TSA-approved Ziploc bag for bottles of bourbon. Amiright?

Then, I found out about The Dirt — a non-liquid “Trace Mineral Tooth Brushing Powder.” So, of course, I disappeared down the rabbit hole to find out what the hell powdered toothpaste was. I read way more reviews and science and the Wikipedia page for “bentonite clay” than any person should need to read in a lifetime.

Then I bought some. This is what I’ve found so far …

The Dirt Tooth Powder Review

The Dirt tooth powder in Super Mint flavor
The Dirt Tooth Powder (Super Mint)

The Skinny on The Dirt Powdered Toothpaste

So … what is it? The company describes The Dirt tooth powder as:

… an all natural and fun alternative to toothpaste! Our powder is made with ingredients so safe you could eat them.

To use, simply tap a damp toothbrush into a jar of The Dirt and watch it stick to your brush like magic! Brush as you normally would, to reveal healthy clean teeth naturally!

The company goes on to say that it’s:

  • Easy to use
  • 100% Natural Ingredients
  • Fluoride-free
  • Naturally whitening
  • A little goes a long way! Up to 6 months of servings in one large jar.
  • Tastes great naturally (no GMO-derived Xylitol)
  • No corn, soy or gluten

That’s all stuff my teeth like to hear!

What’s In It?

I opted for the Super Mint flavor which contains only all-natural ingredients including:

  • Extra fine bentonite clay
  • Natural baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • Green tea extract
  • Wasabi extract
  • Organically extracted hexane-free stevia (stevia rebaudiana)
  • Proprietary blend of mint essential oils

The Dirt Tooth Powder (Super Mint)
The Dirt Tooth Powder (Super Mint)

The Traveler’s Take

How Do You Use It?

I was skeptical that dipping a damp toothbrush in a jar full of fine powder would result in a sticky, gunky mess. But, it’s surprisingly clean and straightforward to use.

You wet your toothbrush and tap off the excess water. Then, dip the damp bristles into the jar of The Dirt. Finally, tap off the excess powder and brush as normal.

I expected it to feel gritty like trying to dry-brush with sidewalk chalk. But the natural moisture in your mouth is enough to make it feel like you’re brushing with regular, non- powdered toothpaste. It’s not quite as silky smooth as toothpaste, maybe 80% as smooth. The difference is negligible.

How Does It Taste?

The Dirt has a smooth, subtle mintiness that doesn’t feel like it’s carpet-bombing my mouth.

In a word: delicious! After my first use, I realized just how chemically most commercial toothpaste tastes. The Super Mint flavor of The Dirt has a smooth, subtle mintiness that doesn’t feel like it’s carpet-bombing my mouth with CRISPMINTYFRESHNESS!!! to get it clean.

By comparison, the Sensodyne I’ve been using for a few years has a slightly astringent mouthfeel. Like it’s working a little too hard to get my teeth and mouth clean.

The Dirt Tooth Powder Dentist Reviews

Like I said, I read way too much about this. I should, right? Since I’m considering abandoning the 100% ADA-approved fluoride-rich brand-name toothpaste I’ve been using for years. I wanted to hear what dentists had to say.

Most of the reviews and interviews with dentists pointed out two main things. First, the primary active ingredient in The Dirt is bentonite clay. It’s a time-tested, all-natural substance. “The real benefit of bentonite clay is that it is abrasive enough to remove the plaque, but not so much so that it will do damage to your enamel,” William Graves, DMD told Self magazine.

To get scientific: silica is a common abrasive used in many brand-name kinds of toothpaste. While tooth enamel is in the middle of the Mohs Hardness Scale at a 5, silica is a 7 (talc hits 1 on the scale, 10 is for diamonds). Clays such as bentonite score around 2 on the hardness scale, making them much less abrasive than silica and unlikely to ever damage tooth enamel. This is, of course, a good thing.

BUT, The Dirt is intentionally free of fluoride. According to the American Dental Association, this is a vital component to help protect your mouth against cavities. It’s been proven to remineralize weak spots in tooth enamel. A spokesperson for the ADA, Dr. Kim Harms, told Yahoo, “The number one big star, the ingredient that can reduce 25 percent of cavities, is fluoride. That’s what you always want to look for in your toothpaste.”

In an interview with Yahoo Beauty, makers of The Dirt countered, “We eschew fluoride in our products, as one of our core beliefs in maintaining good health is to source the nutrition your body needs from whole foods, minerals, and herbs.” They went on to cite European countries like Denmark, Holland, and Sweden tap where water has never been treated with fluoride.

So, fluoride works. Anyone who knows what they’re talking about in the dental world agrees that it works. But, at what cost?

The Dirt Tooth Powder: Before and After

I’ve always taken good care of my teeth: brushing daily, flossing (most of the time), and making sure not to drink too much coffee. Still, the whiteness of my teeth has faded over time. So, I’m not expecting teeth-whitening miracles from using The Dirt. I’m just hoping that it helps.

As for the all-important “before and after” shots … check back in about a month. I’ve only just started using The Dirt, so it’s too early to tell how much of a difference it will or won’t make.

Buy The Dirt Tooth Powder

The Dirt Tooth Powder isn’t cheap. A six-month jar direct from The Dirt website is about $30.

But, if you only want to try it and you’re not ready to commit that much, you can score a small travel size jar of this tooth powder on Amazon for far less.

[amazon box=”B07892M7X6″ image_size=”large”]

Bestselling Alternatives

[amazon bestseller=”tooth powder” items=”3″]

Have You Tried The Dirt Tooth Powder?

What was your experience with it?

If not, would you try an all-natural powdered toothpaste like The Dirt? Let us know in the comments below!

Founding Editor
  1. Hey Mike, how is the whitening effect of your dirt? Just wondered if you noticed any difference since writing this.

    1. Hey Dom,

      So sorry I didn’t see your question until today! Best I can tell, the whitening effect has been minimal. So, in my personal experience, I can’t recommend The Dirt on that front.

      BUT, I still pack it for short trips because it minimizes the amount of liquids in my carry-on.

      When I’m home, however, I’ve been using traditional toothpaste.

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