The Best European Toothpastes Will Give Your Teeth a Vacation
Of all the grooming products you might conceivably use, none is more important than the one you put directly into your mouth hole. And yet, conventional American toothpastelacks a certain romance. The packaging feels profoundly dentist-y. The flavors range from Clean Mint to, uh, Herbal Mint. Brushing your teeth with that stuff does not feel like grooming. It feels like homework.
As with so many things in life, Europe does it better. Over on the Continent, they’re using oral-care products so delightful that Frenchmen, Italians, and Belgians undoubtedly look forward to brushing their teeth both before and after their rigorous six-hour workdays.
Fortunately, globalization means Americans can get in on the action. Scope out four of our favorite brands below, mindful that a better brushing experience is just an e-commerce click away. We may not have Europe’s free health care, competent soccer skills, or innate sense of style, but dammit at least we have Amazon.
Our preferred Euro toothpaste is also the newest to market. At $24 per tube, French brand Lebon (no relation to the Duran Duran singer) makes the case for toothpaste as a genuine luxury item. It’s vegan and organic, with no parabens, artificial sweeteners, or colorings. Its texture is silky rather than pasty. It comes boxed in thin gold trim, with a tagline that succinctly encompasses our sentiments: “Who said toothpaste had to be boring? Live cool and brilliantly!” Now that’s the spirit. Lebon is the first oral-care product we’ve ever tried that reminds us of less of a root canal and more of green-tea ice cream.
The French have been doing toothpaste since at least 1755, when Botot was invented to clean the teeth of Louis XV. Pink as a carnation, clove-scented Botot has a beguiling taste akin to savory bubblegum. It’s anti-plaque and anti-bacterial. It’s also a certifiably natural product, presumably because the world had not yet discovered many exciting additives back in the 18thCentury. In any case it serves as a reminder that, if you want natural toothpaste, you’ve got options way beyond the gnarly baking-soda kind that feels like you’re brushing with sand.
For the past 60 years, Italians have scrubbed away their espresso stains with Marvis, which is known for its exotic flavors including licorice, mango, and nutmeg. Thanks to its handsome silver packaging, Marvis is almost self-parodyingly attached to the style community: When the intrepid journalists at High Snobiety asked a Marvis representative three years ago why the company has connected so deeply with menswear junkies, the rep responded, “Because Marvis is FASHION.” Anyway, it’s now so common on these shores that it’s even sold at Urban Outfitters. Consider it the gateway drug to Euro toothpaste: a classy look, an interesting taste, and cheaper than a plane ticket to Milan.
At first, Email Diamant sounds like some kind of computer virus. The label seems to have a matador on it, which is odd since the toothpaste is from France. And since the packaging copy is in French, you may find yourself utterly bewildered as to what this product is all about. Then, lo, you stumble upon an article from 1982 explaining that this rich red paste contains “a scarlet dye, called cochineal carmine, made from crushed insect bodies, which tints the gums a health-looking shade of pink.” Does it ever—a minute or two with Email Diamant will leave you looking like you’ve just taken a punch to the mouth. Then you rinse out the red and suddenly your teeth appear to glow white. The effect is strange and wonderful, and will keep you coming back.