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Glycerin in Dental Care

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

If you’ve ever investigated the ingredients in your toothpaste, you might have seen glycerin on the list. Also known as glycerol, this natural ingredient is not only found in toothpaste; it’s also a sweetener in foods and found in other cosmetic products as well. Here, we’ll take a deeper dive into glycerin and oral care, as well as the many uses for this versatile ingredient.

What is Glycerin?

Glycerin is a colorless, syrupy liquid that is somewhat sweet. According to Food Insight, it is used in food and beverages for a variety of reasons. It can add sweetness, help retain moisture, add softness or smoothness, prevent sugar from crystallizing, and add bulk and texture. While it has more calories than sugar, it is only about 60-75% as sweet. 

Glycerin and Dental Care

As far as glycerin uses for your mouth, this ingredient plays a few different roles in oral care products. Glycerin is commonly found in toothpaste as it provides both sweetness and helps the toothpaste stay creamy and retain moisture, which is why you may find it listed in your toothpaste ingredients. It’s also found in mouthrinses to add body and moisture as well.

Is Glycerin Safe?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers glycerin generally recognized as safe (GRAS) in food packaging and food substance when used with good manufacturing practices. Also, beyond its use in foods and beverages, glycerin is also a common ingredient in your favorite cosmetics, according to the International Journal of Toxicology. Oral care products that contain glycerin are safe to use but should not be swallowed, as ingesting excessive amounts of glycerin can lead to gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

What is Glycerin Used For?

Beyond oral health products, what else is glycerin found in? You’ll be surprised to know it’s found in products you consume and use every day!

  • Food: Glycerin is found in several foods and beverages. You’ll find it in sweets like soft candies, fudge, and marshmallows, as well as condiments, creams, and dried fruits. You can also find it in spices and soups. As stated above, this could be for maintaining moisture, creating bulk or texture, or adding sweetness.
  • Cosmetics: You can find glycerin in products like perfume, lipstick, hair dye, sunscreen, hair conditioner, and lotion. 
  • Medications: Glycerin can be found as an active ingredient in over-the-counter drugs like laxatives as well as medications that treat eye disorders like glaucoma. 
  • Household items: You’ll also find this product in various items for home improvement, like paint, lacquer, and varnish, and disinfectants, to name a few.

Now you know a little more about glycerin for teeth, as well as its many uses spanning from improving oral health care products to sweetening foods to adding moisture to skin creams. While it’s a common ingredient in oral care products, it’s merely part of several elements working together to keep your mouth healthy. To ensure your oral care routine is in the best shape, brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste and clean between your teeth every day with floss, water flossers, or another interdental cleaning device. The hard-working ingredients in your oral care products, like glycerin, plus a consistent routine, will help your teeth and smile stay strong and healthy.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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