Is Toothpaste Gluten Free?
The short answer is: No, not always.
If you’re looking for the most comprehensive information on gluten free toothpaste — “red flag” ingredients to look for and the best ADA-approved gluten free brands — you’re in the right place.
Removing gluten from your life may seem like an overwhelming task at first, but it’s really so much easier than it used to be. Simply the information available on the “Gluten Free Living” section of the Schär website is enough to help guide those who suffer from Celiac Disease. Even more, the variety and quality of gluten free products available today only existed in the dreams of gluten-intolerant people twenty years ago.
The two most common reasons to eliminate gluten from your diet are:
- An autoimmune disorder called celiac disease
- A non-celiac gluten sensitivity
If you’re in the 1 percent of people diagnosed with celiac disease, your body responds to gluten by attacking the small intestine. This immune response damages the villi lining the small intestine responsible for proper nutrient absorption.
Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to a variety serious health problems, including skin irritations, osteoporosis, short stature, epilepsy, migraines, type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, anemia, infertility and miscarriage, and intestinal cancers.
In recent years, and with advancements in research, many people without celiac disease (those with a gluten sensitivity) have experimented with gluten free diets and happily discovered their chronic symptoms disappeared. A stunning 18 million people in the U.S. report suffering from gastrointestinal problems due to some type of gluten intolerance, which is commonly called a non-celiac gluten sensitivity. If you’re regularly burdened by symptoms such as bloating and gas, diarrhea, tiredness, headaches, itchy skin rashes, and a foggy feeling in your head, you may want to see if eliminating gluten alleviates those symptoms.
What Is Gluten?
The Latin word for “glue” is gluten. The gluten protein molecule gives elasticity and texture to dough made from wheat, rye, and barley. Ultimately, gluten also enables finished foods such as bread, pasta, and cereal to maintain their shapes. Hence, the reason why you find it in many carbohydrate-rich foods.
Living a gluten free lifestyle may appear limiting when you start to reject all the common foods you’ve eaten your entire life as part of your everyday diet. However, eating the way you do is putting a limit on your well-being, positive attitude, confidence, and health or else you wouldn’t be seeking a more-focused way to care for your body.
The same elastic, shape-holding properties that make grain-based starches good for cooking also make them natural and useful ingredients in many non-food products, including lip balm, cosmetics, body lotion, soaps... and toothpaste.
Choosing The Best Gluten Free Toothpaste
Regardless of whether you’re looking for a gluten free toothpaste or not, you should always choose one that is approved by the American Dental Association. This is because they have a strict approval process that ensures you’re getting the highest quality.
Next, think about what your oral health goals are. There are many brands with the ADA seal of approval that cater to diverse consumer bases looking to solve a variety of oral health problems with state-of-the-art solutions. All ADA-approved toothpastes contain fluoride to prevent tooth decay, and in addition, specialized toothpastes can also:
- Reduce the oral bacteria causing the gum disease gingivitis
- Reduce tooth sensitivity by blocking the tooth’s pain signal to the nerve
- Prevent the buildup of tartar and cavity-causing bacteria on teeth
- Whiten the color of teeth by removing surface stains with polishing or chemical agents
The most common ingredients in consumer toothpaste include:
- Fluoride (sodium fluoride, sodium monofluorophosphate, or stannous fluoride)
- Glycerol (glycerol, glycerin, or glycerine)
- Calcium carbonate
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
More natural varieties may include:
- Baking soda
- Essential oils
For consumers searching for a gluten free toothpaste, it’s important to scrutinize the thickening agent used in a particular brand. This is because many toothpastes contain grain-based thickeners. Unfortunately, it isn’t always apparent in the list of ingredients. This is because the ingredients in many toothpastes, along with other processed products, are handled in multi-use facilities. This means residual traces of gluten may contaminate gluten free products (such as hydrolyzed wheat gluten, triticum vulgare, and avena sativa). Also, often times “natural flavors” listed in ingredients are malt derived, which means they are grain based.
One “green light” ingredient to look for is cellulose gum. This is a popular gluten free alternative thickening agent derived from the cell walls of plants (especially cotton seeds and wood pulp) that is used in some toothpastes. Cellulose gum offers a two-fold benefit in toothpaste because as it acts as a thickener, plus it also emulsifies and prevents sugars from crystallizing. However, be aware that just because a toothpaste brand has cellulose gum listed as an ingredient does not necessarily mean that it is 100% gluten free.
When in doubt, contact the companies directly for peace of mind. So, take the time to do what’s best for you, and possibly your family, and ensure you know exactly what’s going into your body.
Popular Gluten Free Toothpastes
To help you find the right gluten free toothpaste for your oral needs, we’ve compiled a list of ADA-approved brands below:
You probably recognize some or all of these names. Maybe you’ve been using a gluten free toothpaste all along and didn’t even know it? The most important thing is now you know for sure, and you don’t have to worry about gluten creeping into your daily life.