Brushing your teeth is a vital part of any daily oral hygiene routine. But toothpaste often tastes pretty sweet, and you might be wondering how it gets that flavor. Is there sugar in toothpaste?
Toothpaste is made without sugar due to the relationship between sugar and cavity development. However, since the ingredients in toothpaste are pretty unpalatable, manufacturers add non-nutritive sweeteners such as sodium saccharin to make it more pleasant tasting.
Now that we know toothpaste uses flavor sweeteners let’s find out if the sweeteners pose any danger to our health. We’ll also check out a few alternative toothpaste brands.
Is There Sugar in Toothpaste?
Toothpaste uses non-nutritive flavor sweeteners rather than sugar to mask the taste of abrasives and detergents. The non-nutritive sweeteners don’t get utilized by the body for energy and don’t raise blood sugar levels. Here are some of the sweeteners added to toothpaste:
Sodium saccharin is an artificial sweetener approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. It’s an extremely sweet chemical extracted from coal tar.
Manufacturers only use small amounts of sodium saccharin to make toothpaste tastier. However, it has no benefits to our oral health, so its only purpose in toothpaste is to make it more palatable.
Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol (an organic compound containing neither alcohol nor sugar) that occurs in tiny amounts in some fruits like apples. It’s mixed with other sweeteners when making toothpaste.
Sorbitol is not considered a non-nutritive sweetener since your body, and the bacteria associated with tooth decay can use it for energy. However, it’s used to improve toothpaste flavor and has no benefits to oral health.
Xylitol is a flavored sweetener obtained from fruits and vegetables like corn. It’s just as sweet as household sugar and can help prevent the formation of dental caries since the bacteria that cause caries can’t rely on xylitol for energy. Additionally, xylitol can also be a remedy for dry mouth.
Is the Sweetener in Toothpaste Harmful?
While most flavor sweeteners in toothpaste may not directly cause dental caries, many health experts are worried about other potential side effects.
Aspartame, for instance, is a common flavoring agent, but it’s a potential neurotoxin that could cause dizziness, depression, and impaired vision. Another common sweetening agent, sodium saccharine, has carcinogenic properties.
What’s more, ingesting tiny amounts of artificial flavor sweeteners over extended periods could confuse your body by triggering cravings for extra food. It’s even likely that the flavor sweeteners could indirectly cause diabetes, though that’s not very probable.
Alternative Toothpaste Options
There are many alternative toothpaste brands currently available in the market. They tend to use organic ingredients instead of the synthetic chemicals used by major toothpaste companies like Colgate. Here are some of them:
Himalaya Botanique Neem & Pomegranate Toothpaste
The Himalaya Botanique Neem & Pomegranate Toothpaste (on Amazon) utilizes xylitol to strengthen gums and prevent plaque. In addition, it’s entirely saccharin and fluoride-free.
Weleda Natural Salt Toothpaste
Weleda Natural Salt Toothpaste (on Amazon) constitutes salt and baking soda as the main ingredients, combined with a few natural spices and herbs such as organic ratanhia and myrrh.
However, salt and baking soda can be abrasive on the enamel, so if you have sensitive teeth, this toothpaste would probably not be the one for you.
Dr. Bronner’s All-One Toothpaste
Dr. Bronner’s All-One Toothpaste (on Amazon) is vegan, non-GMO, and uses 70% organic ingredients such as coconut flour and coconut oil as a gentle abrasive.
Tom’s of Maine Fluoride-Free Antiplaque & Whitening Natural Toothpaste
Tom’s of Maine Fluoride-Free Antiplaque & Whitening Natural Toothpaste (on Amazon) only uses naturally flavored oils and xylitol as a sweetening agent. It also contains Zinc citrate to control tartar and silica to whiten teeth.
Hello Naturally Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste
Hello Naturally Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste (on Amazon) is farm-grown, gently whitens teeth, and has no artificial sweeter or flavors. Instead, it contains peppermint, tea tree, and coconut oil. It is also gluten-free.