Gluten free toothpaste is one of the many available types of toothpaste on the market that some patients might not have considered. These toothpastes are made without gluten, a protein that's found in typical food ingredients, such as wheat, rye and barley. Although the common belief is that gluten is only contained in food, the protein is also hidden in a variety of everyday skin and oral care consumer products. In toothpaste, gluten is used as a binder, thickener or stablilizer, and this uneasily digestible substance can quickly irritate the digestive tract for those with a gluten intolerance or allergy. Such individuals therefore need to watch the products they consume or come in contact with – even the oral care products that they don't swallow like toothpaste.
Causes and Symptoms of an Intolerance
Gluten's well-known counterpart is celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that prevents the body from accepting nutrients containing gluten. The slightest bit of gluten can trigger an immune response if it is eaten or accidentally swallowed, even a bit of toothpaste from toothbrushing.
According to the Mayo Clinic, if a person has celiac disease, consuming gluten can trigger an immune response and damage the small intestine, producing inflammation that damages intestinal lining and prevents the absorption of some nutrients. Gluten in the system of a celiac patient can cause gastric disturbances as well. Be mindful of these side-effects:
- Abdominal cramping
- Loose stools
- Distended stomach
Fortunately, there's an abundance of gluten free toothpaste options available for people who are allergic to gluten, so finding them on store shelves isn't difficult nowadays. One option is Colgate® Cavity Protection, an over-the-counter toothpaste that contains cellulose gum, a natural alternative to other thickening agents. Using gluten free toothpaste twice a day, in addition to daily flossing, will help to maintain your oral care without that gastric interference.
Gluten free toothpastes can offer the same cleansing effect as regular toothpaste, due in part to the same active ingredients, including xylitol, baking soda and calcium phosphate. Xylitol helps prevent cavities and promotes the flow of saliva, particularly benefiting those with dry mouth. Baking soda neutralizes harmful acids and helps to remove surface stains. Calcium phosphate can help with tartar control, as it is a gentle abrasive that can help remineralize certain areas of your teeth. Other ingredients no less present in gluten free products include water, sorbitol, fluoride, cellulose gum and natural flavorings such as peppermint oil.
Most toothpaste manufacturers have information about their gluten free toothpaste ingredients on their website. They also list a toll-free number on their product, where consumers can call and ask questions before making a final decision on a purchase.
Where to Buy
Huge strides have been made in the dental community as far as gluten is concerned. Now, gluten free toothpastes can be found on shelves next to regular toothpastes. Some products can also be purchased online; ask your dentist for a recommendation during your next checkup. If you have a gluten intolerance, knowing that there are options for you in dental products with gluten free ingredients not only provides you with optimal oral health care, but puts a familiar smile on your face.
About the author: Diana Tosuni-O'Neill is a licensed registered dental hygienist in New York and New Jersey with over 25 years of clinical experience in dental hygiene practice. She was employed for over 15 years with the team dentist for the sports teams the New York Giants, the Brooklyn Nets and the New Jersey Devils. Diana is also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and a Group Fitness Instructor. Her passion for the dental and fitness fields spans over two decades. She is also a freelance writer specializing in oral health care. She enjoys traveling, gardening, decorating and her fitness workouts. Diana presently resides outside Manhattan with her two children.