Updated on February 22, 2024
7 min read

The 6 Best SLS-Free Toothpastes of 2024

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What is SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate)?

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a common ingredient in many personal care products, including toothpastes and shampoos. This synthetic chemical is also added to household products, such as laundry and dish detergents.

SLS creates the lathering effect many people associate with cleanliness. While SLS can help break down dirt and oil, it isn’t necessarily effective for cleaning.

Some studies have shown low doses of SLS to be safe for humans and the environment.1 However, recent research has raised concerns about how SLS can irritate sensitive teeth and skin.2

Keep reading to learn more about the risks and benefits of SLS, our top picks for SLS-free toothpastes, and other harmful ingredients to watch out for in oral care products.

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6 Best SLS-Free Toothpastes

How we vet brands and products at NewMouth

We only feature brands and products that we personally like. We study and evaluate them before deciding which ones we’ll recommend.

Our team of experts tries to make sure they’re safe and effective by:

  • Researching the ingredients and/or materials they use
  • Fact-checking any health claims they make with the latest studies
  • Assessing how a brand lives up to industry standards

At NewMouth, we employ the best practices to help you find brands and products you can trust with your dental health.

1. Best Overall — Verve Ultra SLS-Free Toothpaste with Fluoride

Verve Ultra SLS Free Toothpaste with Fluoride

This may be the best toothpaste for you if you suffer from canker sores or gum irritation. It’s formulated with sodium methyl cocoyl taurate to mimic the foaming properties of sodium lauryl sulfate.

Verve also contains fluoride to protect your tooth enamel. It is enriched with the antioxidant vitamin E.

Key features include:

  • SLS-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Non-irritating
  • Made in the USA
  • Contains fluoride to prevent tooth decay
  • Gentle whitening removes surface stains
  • Enriched with vitamin E
  • Vegan and not tested on animals
  • Soothing fresh mint flavor

2. Best for Sensitive Teeth — Sensodyne Pronamel Intensive Enamel Repair

Sensodyne Pronamel Intensive Enamel Repair Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth

Sensodyne is a well-known toothpaste brand popular among people with sensitive teeth. This SLS-free toothpaste is optimized for enamel remineralization to help naturally rebuild strong, healthy teeth.

Key features include:

  • SLS-free
  • Clean mint taste
  • Great for sensitive teeth
  • Helps strengthen weakened enamel

3. Best with Natural Ingredients — Boka Natural Toothpaste

Boka Ela Mint Toothpaste

This SLS-free toothpaste features nano-hydroxyapatite (n-HA), a common natural toothpaste ingredient in Japan. N-HA is a non-toxic ingredient that reduces tooth sensitivity. It also remineralizes enamel instead of fluoride.

N-HA is also 100% biocompatible. This means it won’t irritate people with sensitive skin and teeth.

Key features include:

  • SLS-free
  • Fluoride-free because it uses n-HA to remineralize teeth and prevent tooth decay
  • Reduces sensitivity
  • Whitens teeth
  • Minty fresh flavor
  • Made in the U.S.
  • Formulated with bacteria-fighting xylitol to prevent cavities
  • Enriched with soothing aloe vera and antioxidant-rich green tea
  • Non-toxic and free of chemicals (sulfates, parabens, artificial colors and flavors)

4. Best for Kids — Hello Kids Fluoride Toothpaste

hello Dragon Dazzle Blue Raspberry Kids Toothpaste

Hello’s SLS-free toothpaste line includes fun flavors and colorful packaging that appeals to kids, but adults can use it, too. They use sodium cocoyl glutamate to create a foaming effect without adding SLS.

Hello’s kid-friendly toothpaste is available with or without fluoride. This particular toothpaste has fluoride. 

Fluoride helps build strong, healthy teeth. But too much of it can lead to fluorosis in children under 8. Talk to your dentist about how much fluoride your child needs.

Key features include:

  • SLS-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Vegan and not tested on animals
  • Made in the U.S.
  • Kid-friendly blue raspberry flavor with no artificial sweeteners or dyes
  • Contains fluoride to prevent cavities and remineralize enamel
  • BPA-free packaging

5. Best Fluoride Free + Whitening — Burt’s Bees Purely White Toothpaste

Burts Bees Toothpaste

Burt’s Bees is a leader in natural, environmentally friendly personal care products. Their SLS-free, fluoride-free toothpaste is flavored with essential oils and crafted to whiten your smile.

Key features include:

  • SLS-free
  • Gluten-free
  • No preservatives
  • No artificial flavors or sweeteners
  • Zen peppermint flavor from essential oils fights bad breath
  • Crafted to help remove surface stains
  • Not tested on animals
  • Recyclable packaging 

6. Best Charcoal Toothpaste — Hello Activated Charcoal Toothpaste

Hello Oral Care Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening

Hello doesn’t only make toothpaste for kids — this formula is specifically for adults and children over 12. Like the kids version, this paste creates foam with sodium cocoyl glutamate instead of SLS.

This fluoride-free toothpaste contains natural ingredients like activated charcoal, tea tree oil, and coconut oil for clean teeth and fresh breath.

Key features include:

  • SLS-free
  • Fluoride-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Made without alcohol or parabens
  • No artificial sweeteners, flavors, or dyes
  • Vegan and never tested on animals
  • Made in the U.S.
  • Made with activated charcoal from sustainable bamboo to gently whiten teeth

Why Do Many Toothpastes Contain SLS?

Sodium lauryl sulfate creates the foaming bubbles that appear when you brush your teeth. The foaming properties assist in breaking down food debris and plaque on your teeth.

Most people feel like their teeth get cleaner when they use toothpaste that foams and bubbles. This isn’t the case. Your teeth can get just as clean without the foam, but this may take some getting used to.

A randomized clinical trial proved that brushing with SLS-free toothpaste is just as effective at removing plaque and promoting gum health as using toothpaste with SLS.3 

If you’re a fan of the foam in regular toothpaste, SLS isn’t your only option. Other ingredients that can provide a similar effect include:

  • Decyl glucoside
  • Coco-glucoside
  • Sodium cocoyl glutamate
  • Sodium methyl cocoyl taurate

Many of the SLS-free toothpastes we recommend below contain these ingredients.

Health Concerns of SLS in Toothpaste

Sodium lauryl sulfate is a common irritant, especially in people with sensitive teeth or skin.

SLS toothpaste may contribute to the following oral health concerns:

  • Burning or tingling sensation in the oral tissues
  • Peeling skin inside the mouth
  • Canker sores
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Gum irritation that mimics gingivitis
  • Rashy skin around the mouth area

If your teeth, gums, or tongue feel irritated after brushing, SLS in your toothpaste may be the culprit. Discuss your symptoms with your dentist, as there may be something else going on.

Because sodium lauryl sulfate is known to irritate sensitive teeth and skin, many toothpaste brands make SLS-free alternatives.

Here are our top picks for the best SLS-free toothpaste. This list includes big names you likely already know and smaller, holistic brands.

Everything We Recommend

  1. Best Overall: Verve Ultra SLS-Free Toothpaste with Fluoride
  2. Best for Sensitive Teeth: Sensodyne Pronamel Intensive Enamel Repair
  3. Best Natural Toothpaste: Boka Natural Toothpaste
  4. Best for Kids: Hello Kids Fluoride Toothpaste 
  5. Best Fluoride-Free + Whitening: Burt’s Bees Purely White Toothpaste
  6. Best Charcoal Toothpaste: Hello Activated Charcoal Toothpaste

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Other Harmful Ingredients to Avoid in Toothpaste

SLS isn’t the only irritating ingredient found in toothpaste. Other common ingredients people may be sensitive to include:

Sulfuric Acid Monododecyl Ester

Like SLS, this is a common ingredient in household products like detergents. You’ll also find this ingredient in adhesives and lubricants. In fact, SLS is a type of sulfuric acid monododecyl ester.

Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate (SDS)

This is another irritating sodium sulfate, similar to SLS. It’s known for irritating sensitive areas of the skin and eyes. SDS is sometimes added to toothpaste for its antimicrobial properties.

Summary 

Sodium lauryl sulfate is a chemical that causes toothpaste to foam when you brush your teeth. Small amounts of SLS are scientifically proven safe for human use, but some people are sensitive to it.

SLS-free toothpaste may be a better option for people prone to canker sores or irritated gums. Many SLS-free toothpastes are available from large and small brands.

Smile brighter, fight cavities, freshen breath – 2024's best toothpastes deliver. See our expert picks here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you use SLS-free toothpaste?

You can use SLS-free toothpaste the same way you would use regular toothpaste. Apply a small amount to your toothbrush and brush twice daily for at least 2 minutes each time.

Use short strokes along the gum line to ensure you’re removing as much plaque as possible. Focus on one or two teeth at a time.

Will SLS-free toothpaste clean my teeth effectively?

Yes. As long as you’re using the proper brushing technique (described above), SLS-free toothpaste will clean your teeth as effectively as those that contain SLS.

Although SLS creates a foam that helps break down oil and food particles, it doesn’t actively clean your teeth.

Is fluoride good or bad?

Moderate amounts of fluoride are good for your teeth. It helps remineralize enamel to prevent cavities from forming. Too much can cause kids’ teeth to develop white stains (fluorosis).

You may have noticed that some toothpastes on this list contain fluoride, while others don’t. Some people are allergic to fluoride or don’t want this ingredient in their toothpaste for other reasons.

Ask your dentist which option is best for you and your kids.

How long do you have to use SLS-free toothpaste to notice a difference?

You may need to use it twice daily, every day, for at least 2 weeks before you notice a difference. However, some people experience less sensitivity right away.

Why am I still experiencing sensitivity with an SLS-free toothpaste?

Check your toothpaste ingredients for sodium laureth sulfate. It’s a chemical similar to SLS but milder. People with sensitive skin and gums might be unable to tolerate sodium laureth sulfate.

Talk to your dentist if you experience pain or sensitivity after brushing. It may be a sign of an underlying health issue.

Fresher breath, healthier gums, stronger teeth – find it all in 2024's best mouthwashes. Explore the top picks here.

Last updated on February 22, 2024
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 22, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Bondi, CAM, et al. “Human and Environmental Toxicity of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): Evidence for Safe Use in Household Cleaning Products.” Environmental Health Insights, 2015.
  2. Mani, A, and Thawani, V. “Are all additives of toothpastes rational?” Journal Of Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, 2019. 
  3. Sälzer, S, et al. “The effectiveness of dentifrices without and with sodium lauryl sulfate on plaque, gingivitis and gingival abrasion—a randomized clinical trial.” Clinical Oral Investigations, 2016. 
  4. Lalonde, K. “Toothpaste: Friend or Foe?” Journal for Activist Science and Technology, 2020.
  5. Pepla, E, et al. “Nano-hydroxyapatite and its applications in preventive, restorative and regenerative dentistry: a review of literature.” Annali Di Stromatologia, 2014. Guom C, et al. “Effect of hydroxyapatite toothpaste on vital tooth color.” Journal of Dental Research, 2002.
  6. Guom C, et al. “Effect of hydroxyapatite toothpaste on vital tooth color.” Journal of Dental Research, 2002.
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