Have you ever wondered what makes toothpaste foam and bubble? If you use standard toothpaste, the answer is probably sodium lauryl sulfate or SLS. That can make dealing with a Sodium Lauryl Sulfate sensitivity or allergy tough. How would you discover that you have an issue with this common chemical? What should you do if you have a problem?

The Truth About Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
It’s commonly referred to as either sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate. Both are mouthfuls, so people often just call it SLS. Consumers generally like to see suds when they use a cleaning product. It gives them a sense that it’s working. SLS is an inexpensive detergent and surfactant that’s known for its fantastic foaming action. As a result, SLS is an ingredient favored by thrifty cosmetic manufacturers because it’s cost-effective and harmless.

SLS is in everything from soaps and shampoos to body washes and toothpaste. Most people never notice. However, for a small segment of the population, SLS can cause irritation and allergic reactions.

A Problem With SLS
An SLS allergy is rare. However, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate sensitivity is common. SLS can be harsh on tender or sensitive skin. If your skin is sensitive or damaged, contact with SLS can make matters worse. Constant contact with SLS can also irritate skin that wasn’t previously problematic. It strips away naturally protective oils, leaving skin vulnerable to drying out and cracking.

What can this mean for your oral health? If a reaction to SLS is cause for concern, your dentist may the first to raise the red flag. They may spot visible signs of irritation during your regular oral health checkup. Alternately, you may notice painful cracking at the corners of your mouth. Canker sores may become a recurring problem. Other signs include irritation on the skin of your inner cheeks or other areas of the mouth. Overabundant sloughing of the skin cells can also be a common red flag.

The Solution to SLS Sensitivity
Discovering that you are sensitive to SLS can be unsettling, but the solution is simple. You just need to use an SLS-free toothpaste when you complete your regular oral hygiene routine. Without additional exposure to SLS, there will be no further trauma, and your skin will heal.

Unfortunately, SLS is a common ingredient in toothpaste. Finding a product that doesn’t contain SLS will require some careful reading of the fine print that makes up the ingredient lists on toothpaste tubes. You’ll also want to watch which mouthwashes you choose because some of these formulas include SLS. However, a little research is all that’s necessary, and your choices won’t be limited to obscure brands. While not all of the products in their catalog will make the cut, familiar names like Rembrandt, Tom’s, Sensodyne and Listerine offer options that are SLS-free.

If you’ve had some discomfort in your mouth and are unsure what it might be, give us a call to set up an appointment. You might be experiencing sodium lauryl sulfate sensitivity. At Wekiva Dental, we make your comfort a priority. Drs. Offenback and  Brambila offer a mix of general and cosmetic dentistry services for all your oral health needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.