Ask anyone who’s ever had a canker sore about the utter discomfort of brushing teeth while the ulcer is present. It requires careful manipulation of a toothbrush, and even then, it can still be a painful experience. Worse yet, because many brands of toothpaste contain a special foaming ingredient known as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), they actually irritate canker sores and contribute to formation. Frequent canker sore sufferers, besides paying attention to their diet and stress levels, should certainly investigate toothpaste without SLS. Changing to an alternative product can help prevent canker sore outbreaks, shorten healing time by reducing aggravation, and make good oral hygiene less painful to practice when an ulcer is present.
Manufacturers know there is a market out there for toothpaste without SLS, and they have begun selling special products aimed at frequent canker sore sufferers. Following are three of my recommendations:
Toothpaste without SLS, #1: Rembrandt Low Abrasion Whitening Toothpaste for Canker Sore Prevention. That’s quite a mouthful to say, but this product combines the brand’s well-recognized tooth whitening ingredients with a non-SLS formula, and the result is a paste that has reduced canker sores by 80% in official studies quoted by the manufacturer. Anecdotally, I can say that using this product has cut back on the frequency of my canker sores by around 50%, and I haven’t made any other changes to my routines. I’ve found this item on the shelves at certain Walgreens locations (saving on shipping), but it’s not always in stock, so buyers may need to order it online. The average cost for an average size tube is about $6.00.
Toothpaste without SLS, #2: Biotene Dry Mouth Toothpaste. Although it’s primarily marketed to people who suffer from a condition called “dry mouth,” the formula is free of SLS and designed to reduce irritation of the gums, so it’s appropriate for frequent canker sore sufferers. It’s available in regular and mint varieties from some online stores for about the same price as Rembrandt.
Toothpaste without SLS, #3: Squigle Enamel Saver Toothpaste. I giggle when I see the company describe this toothpaste as your “mouth friend,” but it’s a very serious product free of SLS and a number of other irritants. They recommend that canker sore sufferers use it exclusively, though it’s hard to find in stores and a little more expensive than the two choices above.
Other brands of toothpaste without SLS are yet more expensive or even harder to find, so I’d recommend sticking with these three options. Specifically, #1 has just about halved my rate of canker sores.