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Best SLS-Free Toothpaste

toothpaste on brush head

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 toothpastes, but also go into more detail about why it is included in some toothpaste products in the first place.

Why is SLS 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.

Why 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 has been recognised by The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 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.

3 good options for toothpaste without SLS

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

To keep things simple I have listed 3 good options immediately below, 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

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.

Pros

  • Free from preservatives and artificial stabilizers.
  • Contains fluoride
  • 100% plastic free packaging – more environmentally friendly.
  • Travel friendly option as no liquid.
  • Just the right amount each time (1 tablet = one dose).
  • Low abrasivity – RDA 30.
  • Vegan and cruelty free.
  • Gluten free.
  • SLS free.
  • Some organic ingredients.

Cons

  • More expensive than regular toothpaste.
  • Not that easy to source, only available at select retailers.
  • Initial taste can take getting used to.

Where to buy

Price comparison

  • Packet of 125 (approx 2 month supply) 
  • Approx. $8 – 10 / packet 
  • $$

Burt’s Bees Clean and Fresh Fluoride Toothpaste

Burt's Bees Clean and Fresh Fluoride Toothpaste

Burt’s Bees have a range of toothpastes, all of which are SLS-free. This one has made it on to our list because it is an affordable yet natural toothpaste that still contains fluoride. 

It is a little pricier than the normal brands, but this is a good price for a natural and SLS-free product.

If you are looking for the best all round toothpaste, I would recommend Burt’s Bees Clean and Fresh Fluoride Toothpaste, but avoid the fluoride free pastes which do not provide protection against cavities, and the whitening pastes which can be more abrasive.

If you want to avoid the minty flavor, you could opt for the kid’s toothpaste instead.

Pros

  • Free from SLS, preservatives, artificial flavors and sweeteners.
  • Not tested on animals
  • Contains fluoride
  • ADA Seal of Acceptance
  • Available in supermarkets
  • Good size tube
  • Working towards recyclable tubes (and offers a mailback scheme too)

Cons

  • Not vegan
  • Not certified organic

Price comparison

  • 4.7 ounce/133g tube
  • Approx. $5 / tube
  • $

Sensodyne Pronamel Daily Protection

Sensodyne pronamel daily protection

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 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.

Pros

  • SLS-free.
  • Widely available in shops.
  • Contains fluoride
  • Also helps relieve sensitivity.
  • Protection against erosion from acids.

Cons

  • Use of single use plastics

Where to buy

Price comparison

  • 4.0 ounce  tube
  • Approx. $6 / 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.

If you are set on an SLS-Free and fluoride free toothpaste, these are two good options to chose from:

Boka toothpaste

Boka toothpaste

BOKA toothpaste is SLS and fluoride free, but I have included it here because it is able to still provide some protection against cavities due to the addition of nano-hydroxyapatite.

Although the science behind this is still relatively new compared to fluoride, it is certainly a good alternative if you want to avoid fluoride altogether.

Pros

  • Hydroxyapatite provides remineralisation effect and some protection against cavities
  • Good for sensitive teeth
  • No parabens, no artificial flavors
  • SLS free
  • Vegan
  • Gluten free
  • Subscription available to reduce costs

Cons

  • No ADA recommended fluoride

Where to buy

Price Comparison

  • 4 Ounce per tube
  • Approx $12 per tube
  • $$

Cleure Toothpaste

Cleure Toothpaste

Cleure toothpaste comes in two different flavours, and both are fluoride free. But the reason I have recommended this toothpaste though is because it does contain calcium phosphate and xylitol, both of which help to protect teeth against cavities. So it is a good option if you want a non-mint fluoride free toothpaste.

At first this toothpaste seems expensive at $9 a tube, but the size of the tube is almost double that of  a normal toothpaste tube, so it’s not so badly priced after all.

Pros

  • Available as unflavoured or cinnamon flavoured.
  • Free from artificial flavors and dyes.
  • No parabens or harsh preservatives
  • Gluten free.
  • Naturally derived ingredients.
  • Vegan and Cruelty Free.
  • Ecologically responsible company.
  • Calcium phosphate remineralizing agent

Cons

  • No ADA-recommended fluoride

Where to buy

Price comparison

  • 6.2 ounce per tube
  • Approx. $9 / tube
  • $

Best SLS-Free Toothpaste For Kids

Hello kids toothpaste with fluoride

Hello kids toothpaste with fluoride

Hello toothpastes are all SLS-free, and their range includes two non-mint flavours which still contain fluoride: blue raspberry and strawberry.

What makes this toothpaste special is the fact that it has been Awarded the ADA Seal of Acceptance, so you know that it will protect your teeth from cavities without doing any harm.

Pros

  • Contain fluoride.
  • ADA Seal of Acceptance.
  • Natural toothpaste.
  • Two non-mint flavours available.
  • Vegan and cruelty free.
  • Free from artificial sweeteners and flavors.
  • SLS free
  • No parabens.
  • Subscription available to reduce costs.
  • Available online and in stores.
  • Some (but not all) ingredients are organic, depending on the paste.

Cons

  • Could have a stronger fluoride concentration

Price Comparison

  • 4.2 ounce/119g tube
  • Approx. $4-4.50 / tube
  • $

Oranurse Unflavoured toothpaste

Oranurse Unflavoured toothpaste

Oranurse toothpaste is SLS-free and non-foaming. I would recommend it as one of the best non-foaming toothpastes. It is also completely tasteless – which makes it perfect for kids (and adults too!).

Pros

  • Completely unflavoured.
  • SLS free – also non foaming.
  • Vegan.
  • Two different fluoride levels available.
  • Suitable for a wide range of medical conditions.

Cons

  • Difficult to get hold of due to production and supply issues.

Where to buy

Price comparison

  • 50ml tube (roughly 90-100g)
  • Approx. $3-4 / tube
  • $

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. I also recommend reading my post on the best toothpastes for gum disease.

Some toothpastes may also include further ingredients to help reduce the amount of gum disease causing bacteria. My recommendations would include:

  • Jason Healthy Mouth Tartar Control Anti-Cavity Toothpaste – Tea Tree & Cinnamon (view on Amazon)
  • The Natural Dentist Healthy Teeth & Gums Whitening Plus Toothpaste (view on Amazon)
  • Therabreath PerioTherapy toothpaste (view on Amazon)

FAQ

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? 

In low amounts, SLS has been graded safe by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review.

SLS is approved for use as a direct additive to food by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when used as a surfactant, whipping and wetting agent or as an emulsifier

US Department of Health and Human Services evaluated the safety of SLS concluding that SLS is safe for use in oral care 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. Colgate Zero, Colgate Max White and Colgate Total Whitening are also SLS-free.

Is Sensodyne Toothpaste SLS-free?

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

Is Crest Toothpaste SLS-free?

At the time of writing, Crest has not produced any SLS-free toothpastes.

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
Hello toothpaste sensitivity relieffluorideNatural
Sensitivity
Vegan
$$
Hello activated charcoal epic whitening fluoride toothpastefluorideNatural
Vegan
Whitening
$$
Hello activated charcoal fluoride free toothpastenoNatural
Vegan
Whitening
$$
Hello toothpaste naturally whitening without fluoridenoNatural
Vegan
Whitening
$$
Hello kids toothpaste with fluoridefluorideKids
Non-mint available
Natural
Vegan
$$
Kingfisher Natural toothpaste with Fluoride fluorideNatural
Non-mint available
Vegan
$
Kingfisher Natural toothpaste noNatural
Non-mint available
Vegan
$
Kingfisher Natural toothpaste without Fluoride – Baking sodanoBaking soda
Natural
Vegan
$
Kingfisher Natural toothpaste without Fluoride – Naturally whitening charcoalnoNatural
Vegan
Whitening
$
Denttabs Toothpaste Tablets with FluoridefluorideEco-friendly
Natural
$$
Denttabs Toothpaste Tablets Fluoride FreenoEco-friendly
Natural
$$
The Dirt Tooth PowdernoEco-friendly
Natural
Non-mint available
$$
The Dirt ToothpastenoEco-friendly
Natural
Non-mint available
$$
DoTERRA On Guard® Natural Whitening ToothpastehydroxyapatiteNatural
Vegan
Whitening
$$
Radius USDA Organic ToothpasteNoNatural
Organic
Vegan
$$
Auromere Ayurvedic ToothpastenoNatural
Non-mint available
Vegan
$
Himalaya Botanique Complete Care ToothpasteNoNatural
Non-mint available
Vegan
$$
Dr Bronners All-in-One ToothpasteNoEco-friendly
Natural
Non-mint available
Vegan
$$
Jason Healthy Mouth® Tartar Control Anti-Cavity Toothpaste fluorideGum disease
Natural
Non-mint available
Vegan
$$
Jason Simply CoconutnoNatural
Non-mint available
Vegan
$$
Uncle Harry’s ToothpastenoEco-friendly
Natural
Non-mint available
$$
Uncle Harry’s Tooth PowdernoEco-friendly
Natural
Non-mint available
$$
Cleure ToothpasteCalcium phosphateBaking Soda
Natural
Non-mint available
Vegan
$$
Redmond EarthpasteNoNatural
Non-mint available
Vegan
$$
Redmond EarthpowdernoEco-friendly
Natural
Non-mint available
Vegan
$$
Colgate ZerofluorideNatural
Vegan
$
Bite Toothpaste BitsnoEco-friendly
Natural
Non-mint available
Vegan
$$$
Bite Toothpaste Bits with Activated CharcoalnoEco-friendly
Natural
Vegan
$$$
Boka Ela Mint Toothpastenano-hydroxyapatiteNatural
Vegan
$$
Burt’s Bees Clean and Fresh Fluoride ToothpastefluorideNatural$$
Burt’s Bees Purely White Fluoride FreenoNatural$$
Davids ToothpastenoEco-friendly
Natural
Vegan
$$
Lush Toothy TabsnoEco-friendly
Natural
Non-mint available
Vegan
$$
Twice ToothpastefluorideNatural
Vegan
Whitening
$$
Kiss My Face Fluoride Free ToothpastenoNatural
Vegan
$$
Kiss My Face  Whitening Fluoride Free ToothpastenoNatural
Vegan
Whitening
$$
Kiss My Face Enamel Xtra Cool Mint Gel With FluoridefluorideNatural
Vegan
$$
Kiss My Face Whitening Cool Mint Gel With FluoridefluorideNatural
Vegan
Whitening
$$
Native Toothpaste Whitening with fluoridefluorideNatural
Whitening
$$
Native Toothpaste Whitening without fluoridenoNatural
Whitening
$$
Native Toothpaste Detoxifying with charcoalfluorideNatural
Whitening
$$
AloeSensefluorideNatural
Sensitivity
$$
The Natural Dentist Healthy Teeth & Gums Whitening Plus ToothpasteFluoride (fluoride free available)Gum disease
Natural
Whitening
$$
Saint Oral Care Natural Mineral ToothpastenoNatural
Organic
Vegan
$$
Oranurse Unflavoured ToothpastefluorideKids
Non-mint available
$
CloSYS toothpastefluorideSensitivity$$
CloSYS fluoride free toothpaste noSensitivity$$
Biotene toothpastefluorideDry mouth$$
Supersmile professional teeth whitening toothpastefluorideNon-mint available
Whitening
$$$
Sensodyne extra whiteningfluorideSensitivity
Whitening
$$
Sensodyne true whitefluorideSensitivity
Whitening
$$
Sensodyne pronamel gentle whiteningfluorideSensitivity
Whitening
$$
Sensodyne fresh impactfluorideSensitivity
Whitening
$$
Sensodyne pronamel daily protectionfluorideSensitivity$$
Sensodyne pronamel intensive enamel repairfluorideSensitivity$$
Sensodyne fresh mintfluorideSensitivity$$
Therabreath Fresh Breath toothpastefluorideBad Breath$$
TheraBreath PerioTherapy toothpastefluorideBad Breath
Gum Disease
$$$
Rembrandt intense stainfluorideWhitening$$
Verve ultra toothpastefluorideWhitening$$
Colgate max whitefluorideWhitening$$
Colgate total whitening toothpastefluorideGum Disease
Whitening
$
Tom’s of Maine Activated Charcoal ToothpasteFluoride(fluoride free available)Natural
Whitening
$
Tom’s of Maine Botanically Fresh ToothpasteFluoride(fluoride free available)Natural
Whitening
Bad breath
$
Curaprox Enzycal 950Fluoride (fluoride free available)$$
Hylodent ToothpastenoneGum disease
Natural
Organic
Vegan
$$$
Hylodent Gum SerumnoneGum disease
Natural
Organic
Vegan
$$$
Biorepair Total Protective RepairhydroxyapetiteGum disease
Vegan
Biorepair® ParodontgelhydroxyapetiteGum disease
Sensitivity
Vegan
$$$
Biorepair® Gum ProtectionhydroxyapetiteGum disease
Sensitivity
Vegan
$$$
Simply Silver ToothpastenoneNatural
Non-mint available
Sensitivity
$$
Dr Sheffield’s Natural ToothpastenoneNatural
Non-mint available
$$
Dr Sheffield’s Natural Sensitive Care ToothpastenoneNatural
Sensitivity
$$

About Dr. Gemma Wheeler

Gemma qualified from Cardiff University School of Dentistry in 2015. She went on to complete her Foundation Training and a further two years in the Armed Forces, primarily based around Wiltshire. She now works in a private practice in Plymouth.

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