SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) also known as SDS (Sodium dodecyl sulfate) is an organic compound used in a wide range of cleaning products. Lauryl alcohol is extracted from coconut or palm oil and is then treated with oleum to produce hydrogen lauryl sulfate. Once this is neutralises we are left with sodium lauryl sulfate as we know it.
It lowers the surface tension of liquids, creating a lather which is perfect for removing oil based stains. It is used in a number of industrial grade cleaners, including car shampoo and floor cleaners, and it is exactly the same compound, albeit at a lower concentration, that is added to non SLS Free Toothpastes.
SLS has been demonstrated to irritate the skin, especially when exposed for long periods of time. One of these types of mouth irritation manifests itself as aphthous ulcers, commonly known as canker sores. Canker Sores produce an open and painful sore inside the mouth and are known to be caused by stress, vitamin deficiency, hormonal changes and trauma. It has also been demonstrated on a number of occasions that there is a significant reduction in the number of occurrences of mouth ulcers in a random sample of people when SLS Free Toothpaste is used. The problem is reduced by as much as 60% by changing from your normal toothpaste.
As well as a possible correlation between mouth ulcers and SLS exposure it is known to cause a number of strange sensations in the mouth. One of these is a sensation of numbness. The more common complaint is the fact that it causes a diminishment of sweetness perception. The reason for this is not fully understood. A third common complaint is bad breath caused by SLS. SLS reduces the production levels of saliva in the mouth. The resultant dry mouth provides excellent breeding consitions for bacteria, hence increasing the prodctuon of sulfur in the mouth and throat. Sulfur is the leading cause of bad breath.
There are a numbe of SLS Free Toothpastes on the market which will produce equally good results as any leading brand containing sodium lauryl sulfate. Whicever toothpaste you choose, the concluding fact is that SLS Free Toothpaste is the safest option.