Toothpaste Product Design – My Observations & Notes

Written & Reviewed by Dr David Chen

This is a collection of my personal observations/notes on the various types of toothpaste product designs that I’ve seen on the commercial market.

Toothpaste Collection
Collection of toothpastes

As you may know, I’ve been doing a LOT of reviews on toothpastes because I’m conducting research on what makes an effective toothpaste.

My purpose is to eventually formulate the most optimized anti-cavity, anti-sensitivity, and whitening toothpastes. However, I also want to have the product designed in a way that is sensible, convenient, and affordable.

Below are all of the design features that I’ve seen for toothpastes.

Dispensing mechanism

The toothpaste dispensing mechanism is how you get the toothpaste from its container and onto the toothbrush.

There are various ways to dispense the past but of course, the most common and simplest way is with a squeezable plastic tube. However, there are also other ways of achieving the same result.

Toothpaste dispensing mechanisms:

  • Squeezable tube.
  • Airless pump bottle.
  • Jar.

Squeezable tube

The vast majority of toothpastes on the market come in a plastic squeezable tube.

Plastic squeezable toothpaste tube design
Typical plastic squeezable tube


  • Cost effective.
  • Simple design.


  • Tube deformity from use.
  • Difficult to get the last drop of toothpaste.
  • Plastic isn’t recyclable.

Alternative material

I’ve seen a few products which use aluminum as the material for the tube instead of plastic. The brands that do this often market it as a “zero-waste” product.

Aluminum toothpaste tube design
Metal tube

Benefits of aluminum toothpaste tube:

  • Recyclable. Entire tube can be recycled with metals such as cans.
  • Appearance of higher quality. Seeing metal in lieu of plastic definitely gives the impression that the product is of higher quality.


  • Tube may puncture. Constant bending of the tube will lead to it puncturing.
  • Not as safe on bare fingers. When the tube is flattened out it can create sharp creases that may potentially cut your fingers.
  • Heavier. Aluminum weighs a lot more than plastic.

Airless pump bottle

Some of the trendier toothpastes use an airless pump bottle to differentiate their product from others. The appearance gives off the impression of it being a cosmetic product rather than an oral care product.

Airless pump bottle toothpaste design
Airless pump bottle design


  • Effortless dispensing.
  • Gets the last drop of toothpaste.
  • Visually pleasing.


  • More costly to produce.
  • Not recyclable.

My impression is that it is certainly a novel way of packaging toothpaste. I would definitely take it into consideration if it is not cost prohibitive. I’ll most likely prioritize affordability for the customers above all else though.


The past type of toothpaste does not come in jars but toothpaste tablets do come in jars. So this is toothpaste that comes in a dried tablet form and it does come with its own set of pros & cons.


  • Zero waste product.
  • Very convenient especially while traveling and hiking.


  • Price premium.

Cap design

The cap for toothpastes is used to seal, protect, and keep the contents fresh. Without it, storing the paste would be less hygienic and also messier.

Toothpaste cap design:

  • Screw cap.
  • Flip cap.
  • Pull off cap.

As of the moment, I would have to say that the flip cap is my favorite design.

Screw cap

A screw cap design requires twisting to remove and also twisting to place back on. You’ll find this type of design on a lot of medicine bottles as well as jars and glasses.

Screw cap toothpaste design
Twist off cap design


  • Very secure.
  • Most airtight seal.


  • Takes the most time to remove and put back on.
  • Requires proper orientation prior to twisting back on.
Comparison of different twist off cap designs for toothpastes

Flip cap

A flip cap design is connected to the tube via a hinge. Interestingly, the base of the cap can often be twisted off so technically it is both a flip cap and a twist off cap.

flip cap toothpaste design
Flip cap design


  • Very convenient to open/close.
  • The base can be twisted off.


  • Not the most secure, can pop open accidentally.
  • Hinge can break.
Toothpaste flip cap design can be twist off
Flip caps also twist off

Pull off cap

A pull off cap design utilizes a covering that can completely separate from the tube. It is unhinged unlike a flip cap which is permanently connected to the tube.

Pull off cap toothpaste design
Pull off cap design


  • Easy to remove and close.


  • Not secure and can loosen.

Storage orientation

Perhaps it never crossed your mind but toothpaste can be stored in two different orientations. It can be laying flat horizontally or it can be standing upright vertically.

Vertical vs horizontal toothpaste storage design
Vertical vs Horizontal storage

Toothpaste storage orientation:

  • Horizontal.
  • Vertical.

Horizontal storage

A horizontally stored toothpaste would be laying flat on the counter. It can literally roll around since it is tube shaped.


  • Least demanding design.


  • Takes up a lot of space.
  • Not organized looking.

Vertical storage

The newer toothpastes mostly come with the ability to be stored vertically in an upright position. These typically have a broad flat base which permits the product to withstand its own weight.


  • Requires less space.
  • Very organized.
  • Clean aesthetic resembling cosmetic products.


  • Requires the cap to be designed with a broad base.
  • Uses more plastic.

Decreasing size

I’m not sure what it is but I’ve been noticing that tubes of toothpaste have been decreasing in size. It’s almost as if we’re witnessing shrinkflation right before our very eyes.

Various toothpaste sizes from 6oz to 2.2oz
Various toothpaste sizes from 6oz to 2.2oz

Back in the olden days, you could easily find 6oz and 8oz tubes of toothpaste. Now all of a sudden we’re mostly seeing them in 3-4 oz sizes.


  • Some products are small enough to be TSA travel compliant.
  • Easier to try many different toothpastes.


  • Uses more plastic due to surface area to volume ratio.
  • Requires more frequent purchases.

Freshness seal

I’ve noticed that some toothpastes come with a freshness seal. I’m not talking about the exterior cardboard packaging, I’m talking about an actual seal on the toothpaste tube.

Toothpaste storage orientation:

  • Plastic seal.
  • Lift and peel.
  • Puncture seal.

I definitely prefer and appreciate when the toothpastes come with a freshness seal on them. Yes, most of the boxes are taped and glued but the extra security feature gives me additional reassurance.

It also gives me the impression that the brand cares and have put thought into it.

Plastic seal

This is your typical thin piece of plastic or even aluminum covering. It requires a quick easy lift to remove it before you can begin using the toothpaste.

Ollie toothpaste - freshness seal with cap off
Showing seal without cap

Lift and peel

The lift and peel seal has two elements to it. The first one is a covering or seal over the opening of the tube. Then there is a half circle plastic flap which you lift up to give you grip/leverage in removing the seal.

Hello Activated Charcoal Toothpaste - lift and peel seal
Lift and peel seal

Puncture seal

A puncture seal is the most secured in my opinion because you can’t remove it with your fingers. Usually the cap or some other mechanism is required to pierce through it before you can dispense the toothpaste.

Davids sensitive+whitening toothpaste - showing aluminum seal
Puncture seal


1311 Jackson Ave
Long Island City, NY 11101

Email Us


Dental Services

If you're in NYC and in need of a dentist, our clinical dental practice, 1311 Jackson Ave Dental is accepting new patients.

Our purpose at afterva, is to encourage you to seek in person care with a doctor. It's not meant to be a substitute for medical advice.

A lot of nuances cannot be detected without an in-person clinical exam, which means it is near impossible to diagnose and treat virtually.

sitemap | privacy policy