The 5 Best SLS-Free Toothpastes, According To Dentists

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Since sodium lauryl sulfate is an ingredient that causes hygiene products to foam, it’s commonly found in toothpaste. While studies have shown it to not be toxic to humans in low enough amounts, sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS, may do you more harm than good — and the best SLS-free toothpastes skip out on the ingredient. To find out more about what makes an ideal SLS-free toothpaste, Bustle reached out to San Francisco-based dentists Diana Nguyen, DDS, and Sanna Charlie, DDS.

The Experts

Sanna Charlie, DDS, is a San Francisco-based general restorative dentist and an assistant clinical professor for the Preventative and Restorative Dental Sciences at UCSF School of Dentistry. She is also the owner of Define Dentistry, a dental clinic based in Livermore, California. She received her Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree at Meharry Medical College and completed an Advanced Education in General Dentistry at the University of San Francisco.

Diana Nguyen, DDS, is a San Francisco-based general dentist and an assistant clinical professor, and the interim division chair for Clinical General Dentistry at UCSF School of Dentistry. She received her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from New York University and completed her general practice residency at the Yale University School of Medicine.

What Criteria To Consider When Shopping For SLS-Free Toothpastes

When deciding between one SLS-free toothpaste and another, keep your specific needs in mind, as recommended by your dentist.

Foaming Ingredients

If you like the foaming feeling that SLS provides, Dr. Charlie mentions four ingredients that can mimic the effect: coco-glucoside, decyl glucoside, sodium cocoyl glutamate, and sodium methyl cocoyl taurate. On this list, you’ll find that the majority of the SLS-free toothpastes contain either sodium cocoyl glutamate or sodium methyl cocoyl taurate.

Fluoride Or Fluoride-Free

On this list, you’ll find several toothpastes that contain fluoride. Dr. Nyugen writes, “Fluoride has been scientifically proven to safely and effectively strengthen teeth, prevent cavities, remineralize weakened enamel, and reverse the early signs of tooth decay.” But, as Dr. Charlie points out, some people are allergic to fluoride. Or your dentist may even recommend a non-fluoride toothpaste for another reason, even if you aren’t allergic.

If you’re looking for toothpaste without fluoride but still want ample protection against cavities, a study has shown that a toothpaste containing nanohydroxyapatite, or nano-HAP, could be a suitable alternative to an option with fluoride.

As you shop, you may also come across “natural” toothpastes that skip out on fluoride and incorporate antibacterial essential oils and botanical ingredients (such as bee propolis, which is a natural ingredient that one study has shown can reduce plaque). Dr. Nguyen explains that “the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activity of some toothpastes that contain botanical ingredients could benefit patients who are unable to use regular toothpaste” — but she also adds that “more in-depth studies would be needed to determine their long-term safety and efficacy.” Dr. Nguyen also “would encourage patients to exercise caution” against formulas made with antibacterial essential oils because they could “wipe out the good bacteria in your mouth responsible for keeping your gums and teeth healthy.” In any case, it’s important to work with your dentist to find the best option for your specific needs.

Shop The Best SLS-Free Toothpastes

In a hurry? Here are the best SLS-free toothpastes:

  1. The Best Overall, All Things Considered: Verve Ultra SLS-Free Toothpaste With Fluoride
  2. The Fan-Favorite Toothpaste For Sensitive Teeth: Sensodyne Pronamel Intensive Enamel Repair Toothpaste
  3. An SLS-Free Toothpaste For Kids: hello Fluoride Kids Toothpaste
  4. An SLS-Free Toothpaste With A Fluoride Alternative: Davids Nano Hydroxyapatite Natural Toothpaste, Peppermint
  5. A Natural Toothpaste That’s Free Of SLS & Fluoride: Tom's Of Maine Botanically Bright Whitening Toothpaste

Below you’ll find the best SLS-free toothpastes available on Amazon. Always keep in mind that the type of toothpaste you use is just one factor among many in ensuring how clean your teeth are — Dr. Nyugen explains, “it’s just as important to consider the brushing technique, type of toothbrush being used, and how long a person actually spends brushing, flossing, and rinsing every day.” And don’t forget to consult your dentist if you have any concerns about your oral health.


The Best Overall, All Things Considered

If you’ve experienced mouth irritation or persistent canker sores, this SLS-free toothpaste is worth a try. Not only is it free of sodium lauryl sulfate, but it’s formulated with fluoride to prevent tooth decay. It also contains sodium methyl cocoyl taurate, a mild surfactant with foaming properties.This toothpaste has a soothing, fresh mint taste that reviewers love, and comes in a 4.5-ounce tube for just $8. And, to top it all off, fans who have tried other toothpastes on this roundup praise this option as the most helpful in clearing up painful canker sores.

One reviewer wrote: “Most toothpaste causes me to have severely chapped lips. This one does not, maybe because it does not have SLS. It cleans my teeth without leaving an overly strong flavor in my mouth.”

Contains SLS: No | Contains fluoride: Yes | Contains essential oils: No | Foaming ingredient: Sodium methyl cocoyl taurate


The Fan-Favorite Toothpaste For Sensitive Teeth

Sensodyne’s SLS-free toothpaste is made specifically for those with sensitive teeth. In addition to enamel-protecting fluoride, it contains potassium nitrate, an ingredient that “can and does help with sensitivity,” according to Dr. Charlie. And the Amazon reviews speak for themselves: The toothpaste has received a near-perfect 4.7-star overall rating after 12,000-plus reviewers weighed in. One potential trade-off is that this formula won’t foam up — something that might take some getting used to if you’re not accustomed to it.

One reviewer wrote: “Best toothpaste for sensitive teeth or teeth that need enamel protection. I highly recommend using it. I have for a while and I have no sensitive teeth anymore.”

Contains SLS: No | Contains fluoride: Yes | Contains essential oils: No | Foaming ingredient: N/A

Also available on: Walgreens, $7


An SLS-Free Toothpaste For Kids

Dr. Charlie explains that “SLS is most frequently used to help provide the rich foamy tooth-brushing experience that helps people become accustomed to the act of brushing” — and for this reason, she “would not immediately hesitate children from using an SLS-based toothpaste,” that is, “unless specifically needed or dietary or allergic restrictions suggest.”

Hello’s fluoride toothpaste contains no SLS, parabens, artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners to keep it kid-friendly. And for kids who seek out suds when brushing, the toothpaste is formulated with sodium cocoyl glutamate to offer that foaming feeling. Plus, the variety pack (pictured above) comes with three fun flavors — wild strawberry, bubble gum, and juicy grape — and reviewers have attested that their kids love them. The toothpaste is also available in packs of three in a blue raspberry or watermelon flavor.

One reviewer wrote: “I was surprised how delicious they are. Doesn’t taste like cough syrup or some fake fruit. My kiddo likes the flavor. She’s picky with toothpaste flavor! Bought a few different brands and these won.”

Contains SLS: No | Contains fluoride: Yes | Contains essential oils: No | Foaming ingredient: Sodium cocoyl glutamate


An SLS-Free Toothpaste With A Fluoride Alternative

This SLS-free Davids’s toothpaste incorporates nano-HAP instead of fluoride — and it also skips out on preservatives and artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners. Sodium cocoyl glutamate is present on the ingredients list too, making it ideal for those who want the foaming properties of traditional SLS-based toothpastes. As a bonus, it comes in a metal tube and with a key so you can squeeze every last bit of product out. This particular toothpaste does contain essential oils that lend it the minty flavor. In any case, you should consult your dentist to make sure a non-fluoride toothpaste like this one is a good fit for you.

One reviewer wrote: “​​I am very happy with this toothpaste. I’ve tried many over the years but they all make my mouth burn so I can’t brush my teeth more than once a day sometimes every other day. In addition to that I also don’t feel like I need to scrub my mouth clean from the toothpaste after I brush my teeth. My teeth feel stronger, cleaner and I think they may even be starting to get whiter. I also love that after brushing with this stuff my teeth feel clean throughout the day rather than feeling fuzzy after a couple hours.”

Contains SLS: No | Contains fluoride: No | Contains essential oils: Yes | Foaming ingredient: Sodium cocoyl glutamate

Also available on: Credo Beauty, $12


A Natural Toothpaste That’s Free Of SLS & Fluoride

Although the American Dental Association does recommend fluoride, this Tom’s of Maine’s SLS-free toothpaste is another option for anyone who needs to avoid fluoride in addition to sulfates. Its “botanical” formula includes natural ingredients, including bee propolis to whiten and protect your teeth, and for a pleasant foaming sensation, sodium cocoyl glutamate. Available in peppermint, spearmint, or herbal mint flavors, this toothpaste is an affordable buy that you can even pick up in bulk for more savings.

While botanical toothpastes won’t protect as well against tooth decay as formulas with fluoride, fans have still praised this Tom’s toothpaste for reducing canker sores and whitening teeth. This toothpaste is formulated with essential oils, so be sure to ask your dentist if it’s a suitable option for you.

One reviewer wrote: “Tom’s better never stop making this toothpaste! I prefer fluoride free toothpaste, and I also need SLS free toothpaste otherwise I get canker sores. This is the only natural toothpaste that has seemed to work very well on my teeth.”

Contains SLS: No | Contains fluoride: No | Contains essential oils: Yes | Foaming ingredient: Sodium cocoyl glutamate

Also available on: Thrive Market, $8

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Use An SLS-Free Toothpaste?

Toothpaste containing SLS might not be toxic to humans, but it can cause negative effects in some people. “SLS has been linked to irritation of the gum tissue, teeth, and tongue in some patients,” according to Dr. Nguyen. “If a patient experiences a persistent tingling or burning sensation in their mouth, they should try switching to an SLS-free toothpaste to see if that resolves the problem.” Dr. Nguyen adds, “For patients who frequently suffer from recurrent aphthous stomatitis, also known as canker sores, SLS-free toothpaste can help reduce the pain, frequency, and duration of these sores.”

Will Using An SLS-Free Toothpaste Affect How Clean Your Teeth Are?

SLS doesn’t play an active role in keeping your teeth clean, so opting for toothpaste without it shouldn’t have any serious repercussions on your dental health. According to Dr. Nguyen: “While SLS-free toothpastes may lack the foaming properties of regular toothpaste that help to remove debris from tooth surfaces, that doesn’t mean they can’t be effective.” Dr. Nguyen says that, on the contrary, “there is evidence that SLS can make it harder for fluoride to be absorbed by tooth enamel, making it harder for your teeth to benefit from fluoride’s anticavity properties.”


Diana Nguyen, D.D.S., general dentist and assistant clinical professor at UCSF School of Dentistry

Sanna Charlie, D.D.S., general restorative dentist, assistant clinical professor at UCSF School of Dentistry, and owner of Define Dentistry.

Studies Referenced:

Bondi, C., Marks, J., Wroblewski, L., Raatikainen, H., Lenox, S., Gebhardt, K. (2015). Human and Environmental Toxicity of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): Evidence for Safe Use in Household Cleaning Products,

Journal of the American College of Toxicology. (1983). 7 Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate,

Sälzer, S., Rosema, N.A.M., Martin, E.C.J., Slot, D.E., Timmer, C. J., Dörfer, C. E., Van der Weijden, G.A. (2016). The effectiveness of dentifrices without and with sodium lauryl sulfate on plaque, gingivitis and gingival abrasion—a randomized clinical trial,

Bhat, N., Bapat, S., Asawa, K., Tak, M., Chaturvedi, P., Gupta, V., George, P. (2015). The antiplaque efficacy of propolis-based herbal toothpaste: A crossover clinical study,

Pepla, E., Besharat, L., Palaia, G., Tenore, G., Migliau, G. (2014). Nano-hydroxyapatite and its applications in preventive, restorative and regenerative dentistry: a review of literature,

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