The dirty secret behind the sodium lauryl sulfate cankers sores connection and SLS containing toothpaste is out, and anyone suffering from a painful tongue canker, canker sore, cold sores or other painful mouth sores will do well to read on.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) Engine Degreaser Ingredient in Everyday Toothpaste
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a powerful wetting agent containing sodium, a highly reactive element which, when mixed with water, produces sodium hydroxide — also known as lye. Not surprisingly, SLS is a staple in engine degreasers but also in toothpaste and soaps, in part because of its ability to foam.
From SLS in Toothpaste to Canker Sores. Really?
Canker sores — or aphthous ulcers — are mouth sores that affect the gums, tongue and insides of the lips. Depending on the size of the canker sores, they may take a couple of weeks to a full month to heal. SLS containing toothpaste has been blamed for canker sores, but it is noteworthy that it is not the only culprit. In fact, it is not even a major player.
If Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Does Not Cause Canker Sores, What Does?
A 1978 study published in the Journal of Oral Pathology revealed that a pronounced lack of folic acid, vitamin B-12 deficiencies and iron deficiencies may be to blame for the sudden development of canker sores. Yes, it is true that this study is now about 30 years old, but the odds are good that the human metabolism has not sufficiently changed to discount nutritional deficiencies as significant causes of canker sores.
The Australian Better Health Channel examined the case of canker sores and found that “the most common cause is mechanical injury.” Examples of such canker sore causing mechanical injuries cited include burns from hot food, unintentional biting of the oral mucous membranes, overly vigorous teeth brushing and ill-fitting braces or dentures.
Why Do All The Natural Toothpaste Websites Blame Sodium Lauryl Sulfate For Canker Sores?
In 1999, a study conducted by theBritish St. Bartholomew’s Department of Oral Medicine and Periodontology sought to ferret out the connection between SLS-containing toothpaste and canker sores. It came up empty-handed. It is noteworthy that the study designers learned from the initial 1978 findings and ensured that their test subjects were not suffering from nutritional deficiencies of iron, folic acid or vitamin B12.
Study subjects then used the SLS-free toothpaste for a total of eight weeks, followed by two weeks of rest. Then they tried the SLS toothpaste. The result may astound you. Findings clearly indicate that not one of the patients with recurring canker sores “was significantly affected by the use of the SLS-free dentifrice as compared with the SLS dentifrice.”
Perhaps the reason why websites selling organic toothpaste or natural toothpaste devoid of SLS aim their advertisement at repeat canker sore sufferers is two-fold; first and foremost, if you concede that it is true and mechanical injuries are indeed to blame for the majority of recurring canker sores, there is precious little the companies can sell you in a dentifrice that will prevent them.
Thus, it pays to concentrate on the aspects these SLS-free toothpastes can control, namely their ingredients lists on which SLS – or its absence – ranks first and foremost. Secondly, there are some studies, such as the 1996 University of Oslo Department of Oral Surgery and Oral Medicine study, which recommend natural toothpaste without SLS to “patients with recurrent aphthous ulcers.”
Give It to Me Straight, What Is the Dirty Secret behind the Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Canker Sores Connection?
The dirty secret behind the sodium lauryl sulfate canker sores connection is the fact that there is no ironclad proof of its existence. Some studies that prove the connection; other studies disprove it. Natural toothpaste vendors capitalize on media-driven, sensational hype that may, or may not, be based in reality.
Probably the best bit of advice any canker sore sufferer should walk away with is to try to eliminate the potential for mechanical injuries, ensure that no nutritional deficiencies are present in her or his life, and finally — as a last resort — try SLS-free, organic toothpaste.