Dental Blog

Why Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate In My Toothpaste?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

If you look at your toothpaste label, you may see many unfamiliar ingredients. There’s one in particular that’s very common, and sometimes controversial: sodium lauryl sulfate.

What it is: Sodium lauryl sulfate (also known as SLS, sodium dodecyl sulfate, or sodium laurel sulfate) works as a detergent and a surfactant in toothpaste.

  • As a detergent, SLS helps loosen and scrub away food particles.
  • As a surfactant, SLS helps create foam, making it easier to spread the toothpaste around your mouth. It also helps pull debris and stains away from the surface of teeth.
  • SLS is also known to be anti-bacterial, which helps to slow the growth of plaque in the mouth.

  • Little-known fact: SLS is also responsible for making food taste different after brushing, like a sip of orange juice that tastes bitter. The reason? It inhibits your taste buds ability to taste sweetness, while also enhancing their sensitivity to bitterness.
  • Avoiding SLS: Some people with sensitive skin find SLS irritates them or causes an allergic reaction. Fortunately for these people, there are several SLS-free toothpastes. These can be found at your local convenience store.