Understanding Canker Sores: Could SLS Be the Culprit?

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Do you or your child get canker sores regularly? If so, make sure you are using a toothpaste that is free of sodium lauryl sulfate. Aphthous ulcers, commonly called canker sores, are small, shallow sores in the mouth. They can occur on the inside of the cheeks, lips, floor of the mouth or side of the tongue. They are flat and round, usually white or yellow, and can be surrounded by red. The good news is that they aren’t contagious and will go away on their own in about a week. The bad news is that they can be very painful.

If you or your child is prone to aphthous ulcers, try to investigate the triggers. Common triggers are acidic food, chocolate and spicy food. Some people are much more prone to canker sores than others, and the tendency often runs in families. My dad gets canker sores triggered by chocolate, I got canker sores as a kid (though I don’t get them much anymore), and my daughter gets them too.

One common toothpaste ingredient is a trigger for many people: sodium lauryl sulfate or SLS. This ingredient is in most toothpastes and causes the paste to foam up when you brush. For most people SLS is harmless, but those who are prone to canker sores should avoid it.

Where to find SLS-free toothpaste: You can search on Amazon for SLS-free toothpaste. My daughter likes the brand Verve, and using Verve she gets about half the canker sores that she used to. Some toothpastes you can find at your local store are Hello Kids fluoride toothpaste, Sensodyne Pronamel and Burt’s Bees Complete Multi-Care Toothpaste. Make sure you check the ingredients on the back of the box to ensure it doesn’t have sodium lauryl sulfate but does have fluoride to help prevent cavities.

Do you have more questions about toothpaste and cold sores? Come see us at Pediatric Dentistry of San Antonio and bring your child’s tube of toothpaste with you so we can talk about it. We can also examine the sore in your child’s mouth to confirm it’s an aphthous ulcer.

Are you sensitive to the SLS ingredient in most toothpastes? These are Dr. Wengler’s favorite toothpaste without SLS.

  1. Verve Ultra
  2. Burt’s Bees Complete Multi-Care
  3. Hello Strawberry Fluoride Toothpaste
  4. Sensodyne ProEnamel

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If canker sores are a recurring issue for you or your child, paying attention to the ingredients in your toothpaste can make a significant difference. Switching to an SLS-free toothpaste is a simple change that may reduce the frequency and severity of these painful ulcers. By being mindful of both diet and dental care products, you can help mitigate the discomfort associated with aphthous ulcers and improve oral health.

If you’re uncertain about which products are best for you or if you have any dental concerns, don’t hesitate to visit us at Pediatric Dentistry of San Antonio. Bring your current toothpaste for a personalized consultation, and let’s ensure your dental care routine is supporting your overall well-being. Together, we can tackle canker sores head-on and keep those smiles bright and comfortable. Dr. Derrick Cantu and Dr. Christi Wengler are always here for your child’s smile. Just call 210-680-7841 today!