Have you seen the credit card commercials with the line, “What’s in your wallet?” Everybody has, right? This made me think about ingredients in toothpastes that many of my patients’ families use. Some of these ingredients irritate the mouth; contribute to canker sores, and/or increase antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Does Your Toothpaste Contain Triclosan or Sodium lauryl sulfate?
Triclosan copolymer is an antifungal and antibacterial agent. Sounds good, right? Kills fungus and bacteria! Unfortunately, exposure to triclosan has been shown to increase strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria. This means that if your child (or you, if you use toothpaste with that ingredient) develops strep or another bacterial illness, it may not respond to the antibiotics prescribed by the pediatrician. Nobody wants that, right? Worse yet, when regularly used in toothpastes, deodorants and other products, Triclosan accumulates in the body. It crosses the skin barrier and can appear in urine, plasma and even breast milk. It’s banned in soaps in the US but, oddly, not in toothpaste. It’s banned in all products in Europe.
Not sure if your toothpaste contains Triclosan?
You may have trouble identifying the inclusion of Triclosan through reading the toothpaste box. It is sometimes—but not always—listed under “Inactive Ingredients.” Click this link for a list of toothpastes currently without Triclosan. Add to it the Crest line of toothpastes, which are reported to be Triclosan-free.
Sodium lauryl sulfate, often abbreviated as SLS, is a detergent and emulsifier found in almost all shampoos, hair color products, body washes, foundation makeups, liquid hand soaps, laundry detergents, bath oils and yes—in toothpaste. It’s the chemical that creates the lather that we all expect from these types of products. Unfortunately, it has been proven to irritate oral cavities and to increase the risk for canker sores. Sodium lauryl sulfate can accumulate in the body, much like Triclosan. It is banned in the EU (scroll down to see it on this link)
Not sure if your toothpaste contains Sodium lauryl sulfate/SLS?
As with Triclosan, you may be unable to find Sodium lauryl sulfate listed on the toothpaste packaging. Again, as with Triclosan, it is sometimes—but not always—listed under “Inactive Ingredients” on the box. Latest posts on the web indicate that major toothpaste brands, such as Crest; Colgate; Aqua Fresh and Pepsodent contain SLS. Tom’s of Maine Toothpaste for Children; Rembrandt Gentle White (formerly called Canker Sore toothpaste); Kiss My Face; Jason’s; and Biotene Dry Mouth toothpastes do not currently contain SLS.
As consumers become increasingly aware of the ingredients in toothpaste, manufacturers may ultimately eliminate Triclosan and SLS to meet shopper demand. In the meantime, check the web for updates as more Triclosan-free and SLS-free toothpastes enter the market.