A close up of a man holding a toothbrush with toothpaste on it

How Gluten-Free Toothpaste Keeps You Clean and Healthy

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

It’s commonly thought that gluten is only found in food. But gluten is also hidden in various everyday skin and oral care consumer products, such as toothpaste.

If you have negative reactions to gluten, know that there are positive toothpaste alternatives with glutenous ingredients. Gluten-free toothpaste keeps your teeth clean and your gums healthy – without triggering a response that disrupts your overall health.

Essential to staying healthy is learning about gluten disorders and how to manage a gluten-free life.

What is Gluten and How Is It Used in Toothpaste?

The gluten protein molecule binds food together, helping it to hold its shape – sort of like, well, glue. (The word "glue" derives from the Latin word "glutinum.")

You might know that gluten is in wheat, rye, and barley products such as bread, pasta, and cereal. But it's also found in various other foods – including soup, beer, and salad dressing – and everyday products such as lip balm, soap, and toothpaste.

And just as glutenous flour thickens a broth when making soup, gluten is also in most toothpaste as a thickener, as well as a binder or stabilizer. Gluten ingredients in toothpaste include xanthan gum, but you should check to make sure other glutenous elements aren't in your toothpaste.

Causes and Symptoms of Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivities

Gluten negatively affects an estimated 1 in 100 people globally, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. And perhaps millions of people – children and adults – go through life undiagnosed, risking chronic health issues.

The most serious gluten disorder is celiac disease. A genetic autoimmune disorder, celiac disease prevents the body from accepting nutrients containing gluten. The slightest bit of gluten can trigger an immune response if eaten or accidentally swallowed, even a bit of toothpaste from brushing.

If a person has celiac disease, consuming gluten can damage the small intestine, producing inflammation that harms the intestinal lining and prevents the absorption of essential nutrients. In the system of someone with celiac, gluten can cause gastric disturbances, as well.

Though not as severe as celiac disease, gluten sensitivity can show up even if you don't have a genetic disposition to gluten. And it can quickly irritate your digestive tract.

Though the Celiac Disease Foundation reports there are more than 200 possible symptoms, it's best to be mindful of conditions that might signal celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Symptoms in children and to a lesser extent in adults:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Bloating
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Distended stomach
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Child symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Growth issues
  • Neurological issues
  • Increased chance of tooth decay

Adults symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Osteoporosis and other bone issues
  • Arthritis and other joint issues
  • Skin rashes
  • Nervous system issue or injuries

If you or a loved one experiences these symptoms on an ongoing basis, make an appointment with your doctor to test for gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.

Gluten-free Toothpaste Alternatives

If you're looking for toothpaste without gluten, you're in luck as there are various gluten-free toothpaste products on your local store shelves. These types of toothpaste might include a non-grain-based thickener, such as cellulose gum.

Gluten-free toothpaste can offer the same cleansing effect as regular toothpaste due to identical active ingredients. Using gluten-free toothpaste twice a day, in addition to daily flossing, will help to maintain your oral care without triggering gastric issues.

Most toothpaste manufacturers have information about their gluten-free toothpaste ingredients on their website. They also list a toll-free number on their product, so you can call and ask questions before making a final decision on a purchase.

If you have – or suspect you have – celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, know that it's possible to live a healthy gluten-free life if you recognize the early symptoms. And knowing dental products that exist with gluten-free ingredients can provide you with optimal oral health care and put a smile on your face.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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