Tooth powder is a mildly abrasive powder that is used in combination with a toothbrush to maintain oral hygiene. Many people in developed nations prefer to use toothpaste, which is simply hydrated powder in a tube. Depending on where a person is, commercially produced tooth powder may be easy or difficult to obtain, and people can also make their own at home with common household ingredients. Since it is often significantly cheaper than toothpaste, the product appeals to some people.
The primary ingredient in a tooth powder is an abrasive to lift plaque and food from the teeth. Baking soda is a common abrasive, along with salt or chalk. A soap may be included to encourage the powder to foam. It may also include antibacterial ingredients like tea tree extract, or a flavoring such as mint to make it more palatable. To use the powder, people measure out a small amount, dip a wet toothbrush into it, and brush their teeth as directed by a dentist.
While dental hygiene has improved immensely over the ages, tooth powder has actually been around for quite a long time. The Egyptians used it, for example, as the did ancient Asian cultures. Europeans tended to use plain toothbrushes with no water until around the 1800s, when cleaning powders became popular. Many people made their own, and some commercial preparations were actually quite dangerous, due to the use of toxic filler ingredients. Toothpaste began to be marketed in the late 1800s, although it did not catch on immediately.
For a very basic form of tooth powder, people can take advantage of the reaction between baking soda and peroxide, which will help to whiten the teeth while cleaning them. A small amount of baking soda can be placed into a hand or a small dish, and peroxide poured over it. The toothbrush is dipped into the foaming mixture and the person brushes as he would normally. Plain baking soda and water can also be used by people who prefer a tamer brushing experience.
Tooth powder can also be made more exciting with the addition of food-grade essential oils and extracts. Ingredients like mint and tea tree oil can leave the mouth feeling clean and crisp, while cinnamon can help fight microbes in the mouth and it will leave a warm feeling behind. The powder can be kept in a tin or jar in the bathroom. Users may want to encourage people to use a scoop to drop a bit of powder into their hands, rather than dipping wet toothbrushes into the container; this will help prevent contamination.