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Published: 17 October 2022

Best SLS-free toothpaste

Author: Dr Gemma Wheeler, BDS (12 Comments)
Quick summary
  • There is some evidence to show that SLS-free toothpastes are just as effective as toothpastes containing SLS
  • We've included a full list of SLS free toothpastes, and include some recommendations for which are best
Toothpaste on toothbrush

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a detergent. This means it has a foaming action. As an ingredient, it is added to lots of different things, from house cleaning products or shampoos to toothpaste.

There is some debate regarding the use of SLS in toothpaste, and some people prefer to avoid it.

In this post I therefore give some recommendations for the best SLS free toothpaste, but also go into more detail about why it is included in some toothpaste products in the first place.

Why SLS is included in toothpaste

Before you decide to exclude SLS from your toothpaste, it might be useful to know why SLS is in toothpaste.

SLS is included in toothpaste because of its cleaning action, and because it helps to stabilise other ingredients found in toothpaste (for example, helping the oil based and water based ingredients to stay mixed).

There are also some known benefits of adding SLS to toothpaste:

  • SLS is antimicrobial - it can help kill bacteria.
  • SLS can prevent formation of plaque (which causes cavities and gum disease). 
  • SLS causes foaming, which is cleansing in itself, helping to loosen debris on and around teeth. 
  • SLS and its foaming action helps to spread toothpaste into hard to reach areas, for example helping to get fluoride between the teeth where a toothbrush cannot reach.
  • People generally like the foaming sensation of toothpaste containing SLS, and it does not leave an unpleasant aftertaste (unlike some alternative detergents that could be used).

Several of the recommendations in my more general best toothpaste article do include SLS.

Reasons to choose a toothpaste without SLS

Despite all these known benefits, there are some known risks (and some misinformation) about toothpastes containing SLS. 

There is some evidence to show that SLS-free toothpastes are just as effective as toothpastes containing SLS despite the benefits listed above.

Why are people looking for a SLS-free toothpaste? Well, reasons to avoid SLS include possible health concerns, environmental concerns, and lifestyle choices aiming for a natural toothpaste.

Known health reasons to avoid SLS toothpaste include:

  • Repeated use of products containing SLS can lead to dermatitis, and this is explained by The University of Queensland here. Although generally speaking this only applies if it is used in high doses and if it has prolonged contact (which isn't always the case in the mouth, where saliva helps to wash the paste away).
  • SLS causes irritation to the cells of the gums and soft tissues in the mouth. This can lead to mouth sores and stomatitis. Trials have shown SLS to cause uncomfortable mucosal sloughing (when the top layer of your gum falls away from the surface).
  • Evidence shows that SLS can cause increased irritation to people who already suffer from recurrent aphthous stomatitis.  Toothpastes containing SLS can slow down healing and increase pain if you suffer from regular ulcers in your mouth. The recommendation is that you avoid toothpastes containing SLS.

An unpleasant side effect after using a toothpaste containing SLS is that it may affect your taste buds after usage. You may have noticed this yourself, in what the authors of this paper described as the orange juice effect: "when consuming a citrus juice drink just after toothbrushing with an SLS dentifrice, SLS causes an astringent and unpleasant taste sensation."

Finally, if you are Looking for a natural toothpaste, you may want to avoid SLS. It is possible for SLS to be made synthetically or can be derived from a natural source.

Best toothpaste without SLS —3 good options

These are by no means the only good toothpaste that come without SLS — there are lots of options.

To keep things simple I have listed good 3 options here, but I also include other options later on in the article and a list of SLS-free toothpastes at the bottom of the page.

Denttabs Toothpaste Tablets with Fluoride

Denttabs toothpaste tablets

Pros

Cons

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SLS free

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More expensive than regular toothpaste

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More natural ingredients and less chemicals

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Initial taste can take a bit of getting used to

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Contains fluoride

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Less packaging

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Environmentally friendly (plastic free)

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Travel friendly (no liquids)

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Low abrasivity – RDA 30

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Vegan and cruelty free

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Gluten free

I have picked these as one of the best toothpastes without SLS because they are also eco-friendly. Toothpaste tablets are the way to go when it comes to thinking about your impact on the environment. The bag they come in is compostable, so there really is zero waste here.

Denttabs contain fluoride for protection against cavities, and are free from SLS. Despite being SLS free, they do foam a little during use which means they actually will help with the cleaning process.

Where to buy

Price comparison

  • Packet of 125 (approx 2 month supply) 
  • $20 per packet 
  • $$$

Oral-B Pure Toothpaste

Oral-B Pure Toothpaste

Pros

Cons

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Contains fluoride for protection against cavities

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Single use plastic packaging

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Organic ingredients

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SLS free

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Free from parabens

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No artificial colouring

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Eucalyptus mint flavour

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Vegan

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Widely available in supermarkets and pharmacies

This toothpaste is from mainstream brand Oral-B (or Crest as they are sometimes known), and aims to please the health conscious market, being minimalist on ingredients, whilst still containing important fluoride.

I have included this toothpaste due to its availability on the market, and it being a popular and well known brand across the world. Actually, it seems to be one of the only toothpastes marketed as "natural" from the most common toothpaste manufacturers (Aquafresh,Sensodyne, Colgate). You may be more tempted to go for this toothpaste because you are familiar with the branding, and there is no problem with that.

There are two varieties of Oral-B Pure: Multi Protect and Enamel Care, and you could use either of these without problem.

Pros

  • Contains fluoride for protection against cavities
  • Organic ingredients
  • SLS free
  • Free from parabens
  • No artificial colouring
  • Eucalyptus mint flavour
  • Vegan
  • Widely available in supermarkets and pharmacies

Cons

  • Single use plastic packaging

Price comparison

  • 100g tube
  • $7 per tube
  • $

Grants of Australia Fresh Mint Toothpaste with Fluoride

Grants of Australia Fresh Mint Toothpaste with Fluoride

Pros

Cons

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SLS free

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No information on animal testing

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Widely available in supermarkets and pharmacies

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Contains single use plastics

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Contains fluoride for protection against cavities

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Vegan and cruelty free

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No GMO ingredients

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No preservatives

Sensodyne is one of the most widely available and affordable brands of toothpaste out there.

What's more, many of their products are SLS free. The Pronamel Daily Protection toothpaste has made it to the top of this list due to the claimed additional benefit of protection against acids - a very common problem with a modern diet.

This is also the best SLS free toothpaste if you suffer from sensitivity.

Price comparison

  • 100g tube
  • $4.50 per tube
  • $

Best SLS free toothpaste without fluoride

Whilst I don't recommend fluoride free toothpaste, as you miss out on the known anti-cavity properties of fluoride, I respect that some people may still wish to avoid toothpastes containing fluoride. 

In which case, there are two main options available to you:

  • An SLS free fluoride free toothpaste that contains no fluoride and no major source of remineralizing agent. Whilst ingredients like xylitol have a small anti-cavity effect, it would not be enough to be remineralizing in the same way as fluoride.
  • An SLS free fluoride free toothpaste that contains no fluoride and which does contain an alternative remineralizing agent. Calcium phosphates (such as hydroxyapatite) help reharden the tooth surface in a similar way to fluoride. These ingredients are newer than fluoride and are still undergoing long term studies, but have been FDA approved. They are normally more expensive than fluoride, but there is lots of evidence supporting their effectiveness.

I have listed some fluoride-free and SLS-free options in the list of toothpastes below.

Best SLS free toothpaste for kids

Some toothpastes are branded specifically for kids. In some cases this may be because they have a more child friendly flavour, but it might also be because of a lower fluoride content. 

If you are considering an SLS toothpaste for your child, you could in fact pick any of the recommended toothpastes in the list of best options above or the list of other SLS free toothpastes below, so long as they do not swallow the toothpaste, and that it is used under supervision.

Best SLS free toothpaste for gingivitis / receding gums

If you have sore gums you may consider an SLS free toothpaste to prevent further irritation, especially if you already have ulcers.

Some toothpastes may also include further ingredients to help reduce the amount of gum disease causing bacteria, which I explain in more detail in my article on the best toothpaste for gum disease.

FAQ

Below is a list of commonly asked questions about SLS as a toothpaste ingredient. If there is anything else you would like to ask, please leave a comment below.

Are there any other names for SLS?

Yes, SLS may also be called sodium dodecyl sulfate; dodecyl sulfate, sodium salt; and sodium n-dodecyl sulfate.

Is SLS a natural ingredient?

Sodium lauryl sulfate can be made synthetically or naturally. SLS can be derived from either petroleum based or vegetable based sources.

Is SLS in toothpaste safe? 

The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association Limited (CTPA) state in the booklet Confidence in Cosmetics: "Whilst prolonged or frequently repeated contact with high concentrations may cause irritation, this is not normally seen at the low concentrations used in cosmetics and personal care products, and they are safe to use in cosmetic products. "

What are the links between SLS and cancer?

There are no known links between SLS and cancer. The American Cancer Society does not list SLS as a cancer causing agent, and there is no scientific evidence to support claims that regular use of SLS in toothpaste can lead to cancer. 

Are there alternatives to SLS?

Yes, some alternatives to SLS include: cocamidopropyl betaine (tego betain), sodium methyl cocoyl taurate (adinol), stearate 30, sodium N-lauryl sarcosinate, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Lauryl glucoside

Is Colgate Toothpaste SLS Free?

No, most toothpastes from Colgate contain SLS. They consider SLS as a safe ingredient. They have SLS free baby toothpaste. 

Is Sensodyne Toothpaste SLS Free?

Most Sensodyne toothpastes are SLS free as they believe it can "irritate sensitive teeth and gums".

Other SLS-free toothpastes

In the table below, I have included some brief notes and a comparison of other SLS-free toothpastes.

Unless stated otherwise, the SLS-free toothpastes included on this page have been selected using the following criteria:

  • Contain fluoride or other remineralising ingredients
  • Contain no sodium lauryl sulfate

If you are choosing your own toothpaste, I recommend factoring the above points in as well as the general advice from our toothpaste hub page.

Name of ProductAnti-cavity protectionAlso good forPrice Range
Tom's of Maine Fluoride Free Kids ToothpastenoKids
Natural
Non-mint
$
Kingfisher Natural toothpaste with Fluoride fluorideNon-mint available
Vegan
$$
Kingfisher Natural toothpaste noNon-mint available
Vegan
$$
Kingfisher Natural toothpaste without Fluoride - Baking sodanoBaking soda
Vegan
$$
Kingfisher Natural toothpaste without Fluoride - Naturally whitening charcoalnoVegan
Whitening
$$
Denttabs Toothpaste Tablets with FluoridefluorideEco-friendly$$$
Denttabs Toothpaste Tablets Fluoride FreenoEco-friendly$$$
Radius USDA Organic ToothpasteNoOrganic toothpaste
Vegan
$$
Auromere Ayurvedic ToothpastenoNon-mint available
Vegan
$$
Jason Healthy Mouth® Tartar Control Anti-Cavity Toothpaste nilGum disease
Non-mint available
Vegan
$$
Jason Simply CoconutnoNon-mint available
Vegan
$$
Redmond EarthpasteNoNon-mint available
Organic
Vegan
$$
Redmond EarthpowdernoEco-friendly
Non-mint available
Organic
Vegan
$$
Lush Toothy TabsnoEco-friendly
Non-mint available
Vegan
$$
Lush Toothpaste JellynoEco-friendly
Non-mint available
Vegan
$$
The Natural Dentist ToothpasteFluoride (fluoride free available)Gum disease
Whitening
$$
Green People Organic ToothpastenoneGum Disease
Non-Mint
Organic
Sensitivity
$$
Green People Minty Cool Toothpaste ToothpastenoneDry Mouth
Organic
Sensitivity
Vegan
$$
Green People Organic Childrens ToothpasteFluoride (fluoride free available)Kids
Non-Mint available
Organic
Vegan
$$
The Humble Co Toothpaste in a JarfluorideEco-friendly
Non-mint available
Vegan
$$
The Humble Co Natural ToothpastefluorideNon-mint available
Vegan
$$
The Humble Co Natural Toothpaste Tablets with FluorideFluoride (fluoride free available)Eco-friendly
Vegan
$$
MooGoo Moothpaste Fluoride FreeHAPNatural
Vegan
Whitening
$$
MooGoo Moothpaste Natural Base with FluorideFluorideNatural
Vegan
Whitening
$$
Grants of AustralianoNatural
Non mint available
Vegan
$
Grants of Australia Sensitive ToothpastenilNatural
Sensitivity
Vegan
$$
Grants of Australia Mild Mint ToothpastenilNatural
Vegan
$
Grants of Australia Whitening Toothpaste

nilBaking Soda
Natural
Whitening
Vegan
$
Grants of Australia Fresh Mint ToothpastenilNatural
Vegan
$
Grants of Australia Fresh Mint Toothpaste with FluoridefluorideNatural
Vegan
$
Grants of Australia Kids ToothpastenilNatural
Non-Mint
Vegan
$
Grants of Australia Propolis ToothpastenilGum Disease
Natural
$
Grants of Australia Cinnamon ToothpastenilNatural
Non Mint
Vegan
$
Grants of Australia Xylitol ToothpastexylitolNatural
Vegan
$$
RedSeal Lemon ToothpastenoneNatural
Non mint
$
RedSeal Kids ToothpastenoneNatural
Non mint
$
GC Tooth MousseCalcium phosphateFluoride Free
Non-mint
Sensitivity
$$$
GC Tooth Mousse PlusFluoride
Calcium phosphate
Non-mint
Sensitivity
$$$
Oral-B PurefluorideNatural$
Jack n Jill Natural toothpastexyltiolKids
Natural
Non Mint
Vegan
$$
Henry Bloom ProbioticxylitolNatural$$
EcoStore Complete Care ToothpastenilNatural
Vegan
$
NFCo. Original ToothpastexylitolNatural
Organic
Vegan
Whitening available
$$
NFCo. Propolis & Myrrh ToothpastenilGum disease
Natural
Organic
$$
NFCo. Sensitive & Gentle ToothpastenilNatural
Organic
Sensitivity
Vegan
$$
Sensodyne Daily CarefluorideWhitening available$
Sensodyne Pronamel Daily ProtectionfluorideWhitening Available$
CloSys Toothpastefluoride$$$
RiseWell Natural Hydroxyapatite ToothpasteHAPNatural
Vegan
$$$
A Bit Hippy Remineralising Natural ToothpasteHAPNatural
Vegan
$$
Biotène Fluoride ToothpastefluorideDry Mouth
SLS free
$$
OHS Laboratories Plain ToothpastefluorideNon-mint
Sensitivity option available
Whitening option available
$
Author: Dr Gemma Wheeler, BDS

Related Topics

Leave a comment

W
Wayne
June 16, 2022

Hi Dr Gemma I have OLP and last year radiation up into Left side neck to treat SCC at Base of Tongue. My Dentist discovered by surprise new and multiple cavities in lower teeth - prob due to side affect of radiation degrading teeth ?? Now we need to step up the fluoride - either by Tooth Paste or mouth wash or both - Currently I use curasept tooth paste but I probably need greater fluoride protection ?/ But I need to not aggrevate my OLP -- Strong Mint or speerment may do that as will alcohol based mouth washes -- Have you any suggestions to try in Tooth Paste and or Mouth washes/rinses ?? Thanks somuch for any suggestions to try

DG
Dr. Gemma Wheeler, BDS (Hons)
June 21, 2022

Hi Wayne, Thank you for your question. Obviously, I haven't assessed you so this does not replace medical advice from your own dental professional. There is a lot of information about how cancer treatment can affect your oral health produced by the Cancer Council. Hopefully this will help you understand how your treatment may have caused tooth decay. It isn't from the radiation directly, but from changes in saliva increase decay risk, along with diet changes. There is some general advice in a PDF linked to that page too, which you might find helpful. The main thing is increasing the fluoride your teeth are exposed too. The best way is via a prescription for higher fluoride toothpaste, which your dentist can provide for you. This will be 5000ppm fluoride instead of 1000-1500ppm available over the counter. The most well known is from Colgate, although other brands and formulas are available. These normally have a mild mint flavour and does contain SLS. You will be able to ask the dispensing pharmacist to see the ingredients list to check if the product they are giving you has SLS or not. Introducing a 500ppm fluoride mouthwash at a separate time of day will also help. These can be bought over the counter, or your dentist can prescribe it. Again, just check the label for SLS and alcohol content first. Things your dentist can do to help include applying high fluoride varnish every 3 months. There are several brands available, so your dentist will need to check the ingredients list. There are lots of flavours available too. If you are unable to tolerate any of the prescription mouthwashes they can also prescribe fluoride supplements which come as drops, lozenges, tablets or chewing gums. Although the evidence base for these is mixed, it might be an alternative if you do not get on with prescription strength toothpastes. For unflavoured toothpastes, see our guide here. For non mint mouthwashes, try looking for children's products (but check the fluoride content). I hope some of these suggestions help. Do talk them through with your dentist who can prescribe as required. Gemma

K
Ken
April 18, 2022

Hi Gemma, My Oral specialist has recommended Oral7 to boost saliva production as I have dry mouth problems giving me a very sensitive tongue 😜 . Ingredients lists peppermint oil. Oraly has reduced the sensitivity (still working on the dry mouth problem). What do you think, also, is there a less expensive product here in Western Australia.

JL
Jon Love - Chief tester
April 19, 2022

Hi Ken. Thanks for the comment & question. I am afraid Gemma is currently unavailable to reply to this comment. She is currently volunteering in Nepal providing dental services to rural communities. She is the one best placed on the team to advise in this matter, but it will be 6 weeks or so before she can reply. Internet isn't great in the remote locations! We trust your dentist has made the best recommendation based on their product knowledge and your individual circumstances. They should be able to advise you if there is a more affordable alternative.

K
Ken
April 19, 2022

Thank you for the reply Jon. I eagerly await the passing of 6 weeks. Ken

DG
Dr. Gemma Wheeler, BDS (Hons)
June 1, 2022

Thanks for your question, and for your patience in me getting back to you! As far as my research shows, no toothpaste will specifically boost your saliva production. This can be done with medication. You can also stimulate salivary flow by chewing sugar free chewing gum or by sucking on sugar free lozenges. The main thing with a dry mouth is to find out the cause (normally a medication you are taking, dehydration, or an autoimmune condition - read more here: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/dry-mouth). You can relieve the symptoms of a dry mouth by sipping on water, using saliva substitutes (gels, mouthwashes, sprays). Your choice of toothpaste will help by not irritating a dry mouth, and by helping relieve sensitivity (ingredient dependent). Because of this I can’t see a problem with you using a cheaper alternative to the toothpaste recommended by your oral specialist. However I would recommend discussing this with them and my advice doesn’t replace that given by them. If you are finding the SLS free paste helps, you can pick one of our recommendations above. The Grants of Australia option is one of the most affordable. If you are finding mint is too strong a flavour, try a non-mint flavoured toothpaste (we have a page dedicated to that here and do indicate where the pastes are SLS free). There is "Plain toothpaste" available which is both SLS and mint free, which is shown on the mint free page. Hope this helps!

Jon brushing large dental model of mouth
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