Why use a SLS free toothpaste?

A few months ago, I used to be one of those clinicians who said: ‘As long as your toothpaste contains fluoride, then I am happy with whatever choice you make’. Or I would mention specific brands based on information we get  about things like sensitivity or abrasiveness, for example.

My old advice generally was to use any toothpaste that had roughly 1,450 ppm of fluoride; However, I realise that I could give my patients more information that will benefit them and increase their oral health with a simple change!

Being totally honest, other than knowing the benefits of fluoride in detail – I wasn’t aware of other ingredients in most of the toothpastes sold over the counter that we consume daily and that could cause issues. The main one being sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS).

Every ingredient in toothpaste serves a particular purpose, and it’s always possible that one additive or another might cause some discomfort or even an allergic reaction in certain people. This is the case with sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS.

What is SLS?

It is a foaming agent used in many everyday cosmetic products such as  cleaning detergents, shampoos, shower gels, and toothpaste.

SLS is specially very popular with toothpaste manufacturers – About 85% of toothpaste brands contains SLS is used for the simple reason that the foam and bubbles are a strong psychological force for the illusion of a better clean. It’s very effective as who doesn’t see a lot of foam and think this is a great clean! 

An experimental study from Norway indicated that SLS will interact with the deposition of fluoride on dental enamel. This interaction may have the potential to decrease the anti-decay effect of fluorides due to SLS. Apparently, the foam could penetrate and help to loosen surface deposits and emulsify or suspend the debris from the tooth. However, a recent study in the University of Amsterdam found that toothpastes without SLS was as effective as a regular SLS dentifrice on gingival bleeding and plaque scores.

Why SLS is bad for your health?

  • Dry mouth and bad breath. SLS can contribute to dry mouth, avoiding it often helps alleviate this common problem. Dry mouth also tends to lead to bad breath (Link to previous post) since it throws off the delicate balance of bacteria in the mouth.
  • Could cause stomatitis or mouth sores. The European Medicines Agency (HMA) regards SLS as an irritant.  Those who are prone to mouth sores may develop worse symptoms when using toothpaste with SLS. A SLS free toothpaste, avoiding excessive sun exposure, and reducing stress are good ways to reduce mouth sores.

When mouth ulcer sufferers stopped using SLS toothpastes, there was a 60% reduction in their symptoms.

  • Teeth sensitivity – Many people find that SLS toothpaste irritates their teeth and gums and, in doing so, increases their sensitivity to cold and hot drinks or foods.

Thankfully, it’s easy to find brands of SLS free toothpaste at any typical pharmacy or grocery store. You can check ingredient labels for sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium dodecyl sulfate, another name for the chemical compound.

Toothpastes I recommend with non- SLS but with- Fluoride:

  • Zendium toothpaste

Zendium toothpaste | Clinically-proven, natural mouth care | Zendium

  • ECODENTA toothpaste

Ecodenta Spinach Power Toothpaste (limited edition) 100ml | Holland & Barrett (hollandandbarrett.com)

  • Some Sensodyne toothpaste

Toothpastes Without Sodium Lauryl Sulfate | Sensodyne

Before bringing the curtain down…

A picture, a quote and a song. Have all a wonderful day!

Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler – Albert Einstein


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