SLS Free Toothpaste: Does it Make a Difference?

tooth brush with sls free toothpaste

Pain is tough to deal with anywhere on your body, but when it occurs inside your mouth, it can feel so much more distressing. You might assume gum disease is to blame. However, the discomfort you’re suffering might actually be caused by something much simpler: the toothpaste you’re using, especially if it contains SLS. Consider changing to an SLS free toothpaste to if you’re experiencing any of the following:

  • Painful mouth ulcers or canker sores
  • The inside of your mouth sometimes feel raw or irritated after brushing
  • Dry mouth or bad breath, even though you brush every day

What is SLS?

Sodium lauryl sulfate (also known as sodium dodecyl sulfate or SLS) is a common ingredient found in many toothpastes. Unfortunately, studies have proven that for some people, SLS can also cause serious oral health issues. We’ve seen the negative side effects firsthand at My Family Dentistry, and that’s why Dr. Wes recommends that our patients brush with SLS free toothpaste instead.

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Why does toothpaste have SLS in it?

If you’ve ever wondered what makes toothpaste foam up, here’s your answer! SLS is a chemical that acts as a thickener, helping your toothpaste bubble up while you brush. It’s also very cheap, which is why so many manufacturers choose to use it in their products. However, foamy toothpaste doesn’t actually have an effect on your oral health—it’s really just there to make you feel like the toothpaste is “working.”

SLS is also used in other products that lather up, including face wash, soap, laundry detergent, and shampoo. If you’ve been experiencing any sort of dryness or irritation on your skin or eyes, you might want to check out the ingredients contained in your everyday products. SLS in toothpaste can be especially bad for those with sensitivity to this ingredient. Unlike shampoo, you often swallow small amounts of toothpaste, and along with it, SLS. When under constant exposure, this can harm your mouth.

Why should I choose SLS free toothpaste?

Studies have shown that SLS is a known skin irritant for some people. The Journal of the American College of Toxicology reports that SLS has “a degenerative effect on the cell membranes” and that “high levels of skin penetration may occur at even low use concentration”—i.e., even the SLS in your toothpaste may cause problems for your oral health. The main negative effects of SLS are tissue sloughing, canker sores, dry mouth, and bad breath.

Tissue sloughing is when the skin of your inner cheeks or lips begins to peel, resulting in an irritated, raw, or burning sensation. Sensitivity to SLS is a common cause for tissue sloughing. And if you already experience this issue, SLS can make it worse.

Canker sores (also called mouth ulcers) are small, shallow sores inside the mouth or at the base of the gums, usually pale in color and shaped like a crater. SLS doesn’t typically cause canker sores on its own, but it can make them worse.

SLS can dry out the inside of your mouth. As the mouth loses moisture, the pH balance in your mouth becomes more acidic. That acid throws off the delicate balance of bacteria in your mouth, which can lead to bad breath.

At My Family Dentistry, we’ve seen many patients experience these common problems as a result of using toothpaste with SLS in it. Because SLS has no actual cleansing effect—it literally just makes toothpaste foam up—we highly recommend that all our patients switch to buying SLS free toothpaste.

Where can I buy SLS free toothpaste?

You’re in luck! Because of the scientific consensus about the negative effects of SLS, more and more companies are offering natural, healthy, SLS free products. Some common brands are:

  • Biotene
  • Therabreath
  • Kiss My Face
  • some products from Tom’s Of Maine
  • some products from Sensodyne

If you know of any other great brands that provide SLS free toothpaste, let us know in the comments!

Making the switch to SLS free toothpaste can make a difference if you’re suffering from the symptoms listed above. Your smile and mouth will thank you.

Contact us anytime to set up your next appointment at My Family Dentistry.


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