Is there sugar in toothpaste?

There can’t be sugar in toothpaste. The dentists wouldn’t allow it. Indeed, the American Dental Association (ADA) says:

No ADA-Accepted toothpaste contains sugar or any other ingredient that would promote tooth decay.

But notice the qualification, “or any other ingredient.” This refers to sweeteners and toothpaste does contain sweeteners. From the preceding sentence, toothpaste includes:

Flavoring agents, such as saccharin and other sweeteners to provide taste.

The other sweeteners are sorbitol, aspartame, cyclamates, and glycerin. And, yes, they are the sweeteners linked to cancer in rats, aspartame and saccharin.

For further reference, from the ingredient list of the toothpaste in my home:

  • Colgate – glycerin, sodium saccharin
  • Burt’s Bees – glycerin, stevia extract

There’s the answer, toothpaste does not contain sugar, but it does contain sweetener.

And if sugar is horrible for our teeth what about sweeteners. If they perform the same function can they cause the same problems? No direct answer was found, but two alternate explanations are available.

First, tooth decay comes from plaque which is the build-up of bacteria on teeth. Any food item promotes this build-up, sweetener included. Therefore, sweetener does cause tooth decay. But it is added for some purpose?

Second, sweetener does nothing for our teeth it is only added for flavoring. From a periodontist:

What most people dont know is that plaque is removed by the mechanical action of the toothbrush bristles against the teeth and gum whether toothpaste is used or not. Much to the toothpaste manufacturers chagrin they have never been able to prove that using toothpaste increases plaque removal, it simply makes for a better experience by adding some flavor.

He then goes on to recommend using baking soda with fluoride, or “use whatever you like” since toothpaste does nothing for your teeth.

An interesting thought, is toothpaste really useless? Here is an article from a mother who, with her dentists approval, stopped using toothpaste – No toothpaste, No cavities. It said her family has greatly improved teeth and fewer cavities.

Another article challenges the other toxins in toothpaste, the abrasives and detergents. Saying they are products pulled from “engine degreasers” and other industrial products. But that is written with the hope of selling you an herbal toothpaste.

In conclusion, there is sweetener is toothpaste but only in small amounts. Most articles say it is less than 2% of the product and maybe that’s why it causes no harm? Either way it is only a flavoring and does nothing to help our teeth. Indeed there is some doubt about the value of toothpaste altogether. So be wary the next time you buy a toothpaste for its cavity fighting protection or sensitive relief technology. And if you’re feeling adventurous consult your dentist, quit toothpaste, and enjoy trying the alternatives.



This one is blue with sparkles. (image: Shermeee)


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