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Toothpaste And Mouth Sores

Toothpaste And Mouth Sores

Could your choice of toothpaste make you more susceptible to developing mouth sores? Many popular brands of toothpaste contain ingredients that can potentially cause tissue irritation. Those receiving chemotherapy or radiation to the oral region can have very tender tissue inside of the mouth and are susceptible to developing mouth sores called Oral Mucositis. Choosing gentle toothpaste without harsh ingredients may help to avoid or minimize tissue sensitivity and mouth sores.

What to look for:


Be aware of harsh flavoring that can irritate the tissue.  Cinnamon and sharp mint flavors may be too strong for someone undergoing cancer treatments. Flavors may also enhance nausea while receiving chemotherapy. Try unflavored toothpaste if nausea is an issue for you.

Detergents                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a common ingredient in many types of toothpaste to thicken the texture and produce lather. According to, "Both the University of Mary Washington and North Washington Health Sciences University warn that SLS attacks the mucus membranes in the mouth, altering the structure of the skin " and "According to the International Programme on Chemical Safety, sodium lauryl sulfate acts as a skin and eye irritant that may impact short and long-term health."  It has been linked to the development of canker sores, so it is best to avoid this detergent if you are susceptible to mouth sores.  Several sources also attribute SLS to accentuating Dry Mouth (xerostomia) symptoms.

Other detergents, such as Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CPB,) and Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate (Gardol) have moderate hazard ratings from the Environmental Working Group.

Whitening and Tartar Control Agents

Whitening (Peroxide) ingredients and Tartar Control agents may also be too harsh for those who are at risk for developing mucositis and should be avoided.  According to the American Cancer Society, "...whitening toothpastes may contain hydrogen peroxide, which can irritate sore mouths." An article entitled "Toothpaste ingredients can lead to lesions" posted in RDH Magazine authored by Trisha E. O'Hehir, RDH stated, "Tartar-control toothpastes contain the anti-tartar chemical pyrophosphate, as well as flavoring agents which have been implicated in tissue sloughing and a burning sensation."  

Triclosan                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Triclosan is an antibacterial agent used in many soaps and some brands of toothpaste.  It is currently under review by the FDA.  Dr. Oz's "5 Health Risks I Won't Take—and Neither Should You" states, "Troubling results from animal studies showed that it could reduce levels of thyroid hormones, which play a key role in regulating metabolism. Other recent studies suggest that long-term use of products containing Triclosan can increase bacteria's resistance to antibiotics. It may be risky to have triclosan in your toothpaste since it can readily be absorbed through the mouth."

Side Effect Support LLC is happy to offer toothpaste that does not contain these harsh ingredients. Learn more about Squigle® Enamel Saver and Tooth Builder pastes in our products section.

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